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Where are the Libertarians on Troopergate?

For obvious reasons, those on the left have seized on the Troopergate report as evidence of Gov. Palin's shoddy tactics and unfitness to serve as Vice President. That's entirely predictable. But how about the libertarians? You'd think that libertarians would be concerned about a charge that a state executive abused her executive power for personal gain -- not financial gain, but to advance a personal agenda. Executive power unconstrained by law, to the libertarians, is the paramount threat to liberty -- neither the legislative nor the judicial branches can accomplish anything without the state's monopoly on the use of force, wielded by the executive.

I've now read the entire Troopergate report. It's pretty petty stuff -- significant only if you think that even small abuses of executive power are significant (as, I would think, many libertarians do). It's pretty clear that Gov. Palin wanted Wooten fired, or at least demoted, and that she communicated that desire (and allowed her husband, using State resources (State computers, the Governor's office, State telephones) to do so as well. I haven't seen anything to contradict that, even from Palin's spokespersons (see below). The question is whether she acted improperly in doing so.

As best I can make out, here are the defenses that have been offered for Palin's conduct.

1. The investigation was politically motivated. (e.g., from the Palin campaign: "Today's report . . . illustrates what we've known all along: this was a partisan led inquiry run by Obama supporters"). That's almost certainly correct; it's hard to imagine an investigation of a candidate for national office in the final weeks of a campaign being free of political motives. But the motives of the investigators don't effect the existence, or the meaning, of past events. That is, even if we assume that it's a hatchet job, there are facts in the Report, and the facts say something, for themselves. So let's assume the investigation was entirely politically motivated and move on to the more important question: was there, in fact, or was there not, an abuse of power?

2. Bill Dyer's report at Townhall.org (to which Jonathan Adler pointed in his original posting here) claims that the Report is fatally flawed with a central inconsistency:

Here are the two key "findings" (from page 8 of the .pdf file; boldface mine): "Finding Number One For the reasons explained in section IV of this report, I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act. Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) provides The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust." Finding Number Two I find that, although Walt Monegan's refusal to fire Trooper Michael Wooten was not the sole reason he was fired by Governor Sarah Palin, it was likely a contributing factor to his termination as Commissioner of Public Safety. In spite of that, Governor Palin's firing of Commissioner Monegan was a proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statutory authority to hire and fire executive branch department heads."

Here's a note to Mr. Branchflower, who clearly is verbose, but obviously none too keen a scholar of logic: Gov. Palin's so-called "firing" of Monegan (it wasn't a firing, it was a re-assignment to other government duties that he resigned rather than accept) can't simultaneously be a violation of the Ethics Act and "a proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statutory authority." This, gentle readers, is a 263-page piece of political circus that actually explicitly refutes itself on its single most key page!

That doesn't really make any sense. It is perfectly logical to conclude, as the Report does, that (a) the re-assignment of Monegan was lawful and consistent with the Ethics Act, and (b) other conduct of Gov. Palin was not lawful and consistent with the Ethics Act. This is hardly an "explicit refutation" or some kind of inconsistency.

3. No money changed hands. This is the primary defense offered by Palin's lawyers:

Every prior reported Ethics Act violation involved financial motives and financial 'potential gain, or the avoidance of a potential loss.' [citing cases] The common thread in all of these Ethics Act cases is money -- and the use of a government position to personally gain. Here there is no accusation, no finding, and no facts that money or financial gain to the Governor was involved in the decision to replace Monegan."

That's an odd one -- that Gov. Palin did not do anything to enrich herself seems like a hyper-technical defense to a charge of abuse of the public trust: "I didn't line my pockets, I was just acting out a personal vendetta." One would think that if any of the facts were incorrect, her lawyers would want to point that out, but they didn't.

Also, while I'm no expert in Alaska Ethics law, this strikes me as a most peculiar reading of the Alaska Ethics Act, which provides:

"The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust."

Just as a matter of elementary statutory construction, it's pretty obvious, to me at least, that the statute cannot be construed to cover only financial matters, because such a construction renders the words "personal or" entirely superfluous, and we all know that interpretations of statutes making words superfluous are disfavored.

4. Wooten was a threat to public safety. Palin's campaign press release again: "the Report illustrates [that] the Palins were completely justified in their concern regarding Trooper Wooten given his violent and rogue behavior." That's also an odd defense, and perhaps the most disturbing one of all -- at least, disturbing to a libertarian. Let's again assume it's true -- that Wooten was an unstable and potentially dangerous man, unfit to serve as a state trooper. There are procedures in place to remove such people from office; they had already been activated here, and had reached a conclusion with which Gov. Palin apparently disagreed (i.e., Wooten was not dismissed). So she and her husband are justified in putting additional pressure on those in a supervisory position to try to see to it that Wooten is removed from the force. I don't know about you, but this makes me pretty nervous. That's always the excuse for abuses of executive power: I had the public interest in view, and surely I can't be burdened with complying with those niggling laws and procedures, which only get in the way of my doing my job. That's a really disturbing philosophy for someone who might wield national executive power to hold.

5. It's just her husband. Most of the factual allegations concern actions taken by Todd Palin, for which Gov. Palin should not be held responsible. This is probably the strongest defense on the facts -- except for the fact that Todd Palin was given access to the governor's office and personnel and computers and phones while he was engaged in this activity. Several of the meetings described in the Report took place in the governor's office, with Todd and Monegan or some other State official being the only ones present. Either the governor knew that (bad) or didn't (also bad).

So I'd be curious to know whether there are some outraged libertarians out there whose writings I haven't seen pertaining to this affair (or if there are other defenses to Gov. Palin's conduct that I haven't summarized above and that more clearly excuse her conduct). [And a special request, if I may -- I'm sure that everyone will appreciate efforts to keep comments on-point and away from ad hominem attacks]

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Where are the Libertarians on Troopergate?
  2. "Troopergate" Report Released:
Guest12345:
Isn't it really difficult to separate personal gain from doing one's job? Unless the Gov directly opposes everything that is good for the state populace then there will be certain actions that are of benefit to the Gov which are also what the Gov should be doing anyway. For example, if every morning on the way to the office the Gov drives her car through a suspension destroying pot hole, can she order the road crews to get out there and fix the hole? Or would that be an ethics violation?
10.12.2008 1:09pm
Daryl Herbert (www):
re: No. 4, you're missing the corruption angle. Wooten was allowed to stay on despite being a serial criminal. The police investigation found that Wooten did commit those crimes.

It gave him a slap on the wrist (10 days suspension, that the union got reduced to 5 days) because of the good old boy network--the idea that cops don't punish other cops.

Cops protecting each other, instead of protecting us, is what distresses libertarians.

Even the Governor's family can't get results by sending complaints through the appropriate channels.

Where was the abuse of power? Was it:
1 - complaining
or
2 - reassigning (not firing) Monegan?

Complaining wasn't an abuse of power because the complaints were legit and they were being sent through the proper channels.

Reassigning Monegan wasn't an abuse of power because it was done for legitimate reasons (insubordination on policy matters). Monegan himself knew he has been reassigned for that reason. It took third-place loser Andrew Halcro weeks to convince Monegan that the real reason he was reassigned was Wooten. This whole "scandal" is a circus created by a third-place loser candidate, enabled by Alaska's corrupt law enforcement. The Palins did nothing wrong.
10.12.2008 1:11pm
J. Aldridge:
If you are looking for outrage or misconduct then you have to read the report with a critical partisan eye, which explains why it was released during an election campaign.

If this was 2007 the report would fall flat and generate only yawns.
10.12.2008 1:14pm
Patent Lawyer:
David, you're also missing a key point of comparison. If this is the worst thing that Palin's done, and assume the worst reasonable facts about the incident, it still barely registers as an ethics violation relative to the rest of Washington politics. Compare to Ted Stevens or the Jack Abramoff scandals on the GOP side, or William Jefferson's "money in a freezer" scandal or Chris "Countrywide" Dodd or Joe Biden (D-MBNA) on the Dem side. Or, Obama's massive earmark to his wife's hospital simultaneously with her very generous promotion at that hospital.

Funny how it's all Palin, all the time, and these Dem scandals barely come up. If the worst ethics violation we have to worry about is a governor going outside union regulations to fire a bad cop who hurt her family, I'm pretty happy as a libertarian.
10.12.2008 1:18pm
Melvin H. (mail):
And the ultimate irony, it seems to me, was all of this was over the Governor trying to get an (ex-) relative . . . FIRED.

Usually, this kind of ethics investigation comes up over HIRING a relative.
10.12.2008 1:21pm
Kevin!:
I'm sure what Post is getting at is that by excusing Republican abuses and attacking Democratic abuses, Libertarians have lost their independence and intellectual consistency. Instead, they have either 1) become submerged in the Republican party as a partisan component, or 2) revealed that many "libertarians" are simply mainstream Republicans who like to think they're "independent."

This is a good opportunity for real Libertarians to disengage from the Republican party and focus on keeping their credibility intact. Neither party has shown any particular commitment to small government causes. What, exactly, what a McCain victory accomplish for Libertarians?
10.12.2008 1:27pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
Where was the abuse of power? Was it:
1 - complaining
or
2 - reassigning (not firing) Monegan?


According to the report, it was 1.

But it wasn't simply "complaining", it was the use of the governor's office to put pressure on others.

If she did nothing wrong, why did Palin have to lie about it?
10.12.2008 1:30pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
I'm not a libertarian, but I tend to be mistaken as one. Either way, I find it rather hard to be outraged by the actions of a politician to get a known high-risk individual out of the police force.

You can't read David Codrea's War On Gun's blog regularly, including "The Only Ones..." series, and expect libertarians to be pissed off about this. Or at least pissed off that she canned the guy -- I expect Codrea's foaming at the mouth since she waited for the beer-drinking-while-driving asshole to threaten the life of her family members before making his life miserable.

So she and her husband are justified in putting additional pressure on those in a supervisory position to try to see to it that Wooten is removed from the force. I don’t know about you, but this makes me pretty nervous. That’s always the excuse for abuses of executive power


Except the pressure itself was entirely legal, and even one of those procedures that Mrs. Palin was supposed to take should someone like Wooten be given a suspension instead of a pink slip after tasering an 11-year-old (in his defense, only for 'like a second'). Even this politically motivated hatchet-job of a report does not claim that the pressure was illegal, nor the firing of the police chief, nor that either of those aspects would have been a violation of the limits on executive power.

That should be blatantly obvious.

The only violation here is of the ethics law requirement that public officials not make "any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest". That's be horrible if she had no legitimate purpose to do so, and such conflicts of interests should be avoided, but ...

Well, I don't want my Governor twiddling his or her thumbs next the a fire extinguisher on the street corner when a brush fire is getting out of control, just because it's close to his or her house.
10.12.2008 1:33pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Libertarians ought to be happy that a person in a position of authority was attempting to rid the state police of a rogue trooper. Maybe authoritarians like David Post think that serial criminals like Trooper Wooter ought to be on the force. But people who are truly concerned about liberty should support Palin's efforts to remove a trooper who Tasered a 10-yearold."


A real libertarian believes in checks on state power. One of the most important checks on state power is due process in the prosecution of those who have been accused of crimes.

There was a formal investigation of Wooten, and he had been punished already. Everything the Palins did after that was an affront to due process and an illegitimate exercise of power.

If you think the original investigation and punishment of Wooten was corrupt or inappropriate, then the proper remedy is to attack and repair that element of the process, not to circumvent it altogether by taking matters into your own hands.

Lastly, I wonder if the Palins ever did anything to go after corruption in the police force more generally. If not, one wonders why they would single out this individual, if not for purely personal reasons.
10.12.2008 1:37pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Except the pressure itself was entirely legal, and even one of those procedures that Mrs. Palin was supposed to take should someone like Wooten be given a suspension instead of a pink slip after tasering an 11-year-old (in his defense, only for 'like a second'). Even this politically motivated hatchet-job of a report does not claim that the pressure was illegal..."


Did you actually read the report? The first finding is that the pressure she applied was a violation of the Ethics Act. It was unlawful and illegal.
10.12.2008 1:40pm
_quodlibet_:
I see two possibilities:

(1) Sarah Palin wanted Wooten removed out of personal revenge.
(2) Sarah Palin wanted Wooten removed because she thought that he was unfit to serve a policeman.

Only in the former case would her actions be corrupt. Without the ability to read Palin's mind, it is impossible to know for sure which of the two possibilities is correct. However, given Wooten's egregious past behavior (driving a police cruiser while intoxicated, tasering his stepson without cause, etc.), and given that he was only slightly punished for his misbehavior, I don't think it's unreasonable to give Palin the benefit of the doubt.
10.12.2008 1:41pm
quixoticneophyte:
Imagine that.... David Post doesn't like Sarah Palin.

1) David, Yes, this was a political hack-job, and yes, that can slant the facts. Lyda Green, Hollis French, and Steve Branchflower all have personal interests in seeing Palin politically wounded. Lyda was just forced out of her primary election because of Palin, French has always hated Palin for personal reasons, and Branchflower is a good friend of Monegan and Branchflower's wife worked for Monegan just a few years ago.

And yes, this affected the report, such as when Branchflower, the "independent" investigator mentioned that French controlled his list of subpoenas. And it also explains why no mention was made of Todd's report to the council.

OF COURSE bias can change the presentation of facts. Hence, MSNBC.

The basic reason why Troopergate is a joke is 4).

Getting rid of a Trooper like Wooten is certainly in the PUBLIC'S interest, and when Todd discussed Wooten with the Troopers, the PUBLIC interest arguments are the only ones he discussed.

David dismisses this point by stating that procedures were already in place. BUT, 1) for much of the time, the Palins were not informed about what was going on with Wooten; and 2) the entire PSEA and Troopers organization is borderline-corrupt. Look at Wooten's "punishment"--a 5 day suspension?!? Oh, yeah. THAT makes me feel safer.

With everything that Wooten has done, I have no problem with Todd raising this issue, and honestly, at the end of the day, Alaskans will probably thank him for exposing the PSEA.
10.12.2008 1:42pm
Toby:
As a libertarian, I have little issue with a state actor removing another state actor. The most frequent and egregious violations of Liberty are by those closest to the street. A callous and insensitive policeman is promulgating that he will enforce laws that do not apply to him. They do not apply to him because he is the law. His every action, and his continued presence on the force is an affront to the rule of law. The libertarian’s best defense is the rule of law, which applies to petty officials, i.e., the trooper, and to citizens alike.

Years ago, when coaching middle school basketball, I had to explain why technical fouls would get you thrown out of the game. The kids soon understood that while regular fouls were due to lack of control, or to playing too hard, some fouls violated the very nature of the game. Some fouls represented behavior that would invalidate the game entirely if allowed to stand. This is why fighting, or sassing the ref, or tackling with no pretense of going for the ball were far worse than any normal foul, and would get you thrown from the game.

A state trooper, who casually breaks the law that he is sworn to enforce is a daily lesson to the public that the state is above the law. A state trooper who uses his tools of enforcement (Taser) for recreational purposes, is a daily lesson to the public those in government employ are outside the law.

To this Libertarian, the state trooper was committing such technical fouls, and as such was an affront to any concept of limited government. The state trooper was preserved by union rules, by precisely the sort of petty procedurism over substance that attacks liberty directly. To the extent the Governor was pushing on the rules, rules in which it was legitimate that she have a concern, it was more of a normal rather than technical foul.

Centuries ago, Washington positioned himself as first citizen only, running the government and then stepping down to no exceptional honor or role. This is the appropriate role for a governor, a temporary rein on the government in the citizenry’s interest. The perpetual government, which always becomes primarily concerned with its own interests, is what Libertarians fear. Palin was trying to rein in the permanent government on behalf of citizens. This is why she maintains credibility through this issue.

The left somehow always wants to find legalistic gotcha's to explain to those that favor limited government that somehow there was a slight inconsistency so therefore we should just turn ourselves over to the Leviathan state. Those of us who see nuance instead of the bright lines fear the Leviathan more. David, you seem to love the bright lines more.
10.12.2008 1:42pm
David Warner:
Moth. Flame. Again.

She's not the droid you're looking for, Dr. Post, she really isn't.
10.12.2008 1:45pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Getting rid of a Trooper like Wooten is certainly in the PUBLIC'S interest, and when Todd discussed Wooten with the Troopers, the PUBLIC interest arguments are the only ones he discussed."


Did the Palins ever go after any other bad cops? Or was it just a coincidence that the one bad cop they went after happened to be an ex-relative by divorce?
10.12.2008 1:49pm
Mike Keenan:
He's admitted to using a taser on Gov Palin's nephew.

What is the personal gain? She is protecting her sister and her nephew. That is why this libertarian is not outraged.

35 years old. Married and divorced four times. Abuser. It is hard to work up much sympathy and outrage here. I think your precise points are good, but it is hard to work up outrage.
10.12.2008 2:07pm
EH (mail):
I miss Whit.
10.12.2008 2:07pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Maybe he was just the worst cop in Alaska. Wooten tasered his 11-year-old stepson. If you can find an Alaska cop who (e.g.) tasered two or more of his stepchildren, or tasered a 6- or 8-year-old stepchild, and kept his job, do let us know.
10.12.2008 2:09pm
Stash:
There is a good argument that this is not a big deal.

There is no argument that the evidence does not show a violation of the statute.

Patent Lawyer: you say:

If the worst ethics violation we have to worry about is a governor going outside union regulations to fire a bad cop who hurt her family, I'm pretty happy as a libertarian.


Professor Post says:


It’s pretty petty stuff – significant only if you think that even small abuses of executive power are significant


This is not contradictory. It simply means that you are not among those who care about small abuses of executive power. I can't say I care that much either. Like you, I can only dream that this should be the worst corruption we ever faced. That does not mean, however, that there was no violation of the statute. There was.

Daryl Herbert says:

Where was the abuse of power? Was it:
1 - complaining
or
2 - reassigning (not firing) Monegan?


Let's see, when your boss "complains" that something within your area of responsibility has not been done, that is not "pressure" to do it? It is the same as the complaint of any random person in the street? There can be no doubt that she used her office to get something done in her personal interest. This is what the statute prohibits. You are correct with respect to number two, and that, in fact, is what the report found.

More distressing, however, is Herbert's "libertarian" argument that the attempted end-around established procedures were justified because of police corruption. This is the anti-libertarian argument, i.e., "corruption" justifies expanding executive power so that fiat may replace "inadequate" due process.

If the "problem" was "police corruption" Palin could have taken steps to end it. For example, she could have proposed citizen members of police disciplinary boards, minimum punishment guidelines etc. [Assuming of course, that the punishment really was only "a slap on the wrist" which I do for these purposes.] The fact that the complaints were not part of an attempt to reform police disciplinary procedures only highlights that she was pursuing it for her personal interests.
10.12.2008 2:10pm
Paul McKaskle (mail):
I have no idea whether Gov. Palin went after other bad cops, and I've seen nothing one way or other on the point. But, one can be sure that a lawyer suing the state police for violation of civil rights would try (and often succeed) in bringing up the lack of any serious disciplinary actions against "bad" troopers. So, any public official who wants to protect the government from excessive liability would want to weed out bad troopers. I have no personal knowledge whether Wooten fits this description, but it isn't an unreasonable thing for a public official to want to protect the public fisc from civil rights judgments. Indeed, it would be reckless not to do so.

By the way, since Wooten is still on the force (which some commentators here and elsewhere don't seem to know), and Gov. Palin has (I presume) appointed a successor to Monegan, apparently the appointment of the successor was NOT conditioned on some sort of understanding that he (or she) would fire Wooten. If it was not so conditioned, then it seems to undermine the investigators conclusion that, in addition to good reasons to re-assign Monegan (which were admitted by the investigator) she also had an improper motive.
10.12.2008 2:13pm
LN (mail):
If you are looking for outrage or misconduct then you have to read the report with a critical partisan eye, which explains why it was released during an election campaign.

If this was 2007 the report would fall flat and generate only yawns.


Yes, if Palin's July 2008 firing of Walter Monegan had only been investigated back in 2007, none of this would have interfered with John McCain's Presidential campaign.
10.12.2008 2:14pm
LN (mail):
What is the personal gain? She is protecting her sister and her nephew.

How exactly did would firing Wooten 3 years after his divorce protect her sister and her nephew?
10.12.2008 2:16pm
Careless:

Did the Palins ever go after any other bad cops? Or was it just a coincidence that the one bad cop they went after happened to be an ex-relative by divorce?

Did Palin have extensive knowledge of the various crimes/flaws of other bad cops? While I'd appreciate the governor and anyone else with the power to do so working to get rid of bad cops, the governor probably doesn't learn about that sort of thing unless someone screws up badly enough that they actually get fired/prosecuted and the governor wouldn't have to do anything anyway.
10.12.2008 2:16pm
Doc W (mail):
Where are the libertarians?

I'm libertarian, and I can tell you where I'm at--I'm looking at trillions of dollars and thousands of lives thrown away in warfare, a rapidly advancing police state, a trillion bucks down the outrageous bailout drain, descent into a socialist/fascist economy, and a major-party choice for president between an anti-free speech warmonger and a socialist, anti-gun fruitcake evolving into a warmonger.

Tell me again, Post, what was it that you were pissing about? I forgot.
10.12.2008 2:19pm
Katl L (mail):
You dont want ad personam attacks
an ad hominen attack would be one that shows inconcistency between what Sarah Palin said and what she did ( or not).
A ad personam attack would be about her , her husband , her daughter, grand daughter, her likennes for bear hunting , etc, etc
10.12.2008 2:20pm
LN (mail):
Gov. Palin has (I presume) appointed a successor to Monegan, apparently the appointment of the successor was NOT conditioned on some sort of understanding that he (or she) would fire Wooten. If it was not so conditioned, then it seems to undermine the investigators conclusion that, in addition to good reasons to re-assign Monegan (which were admitted by the investigator) she also had an improper motive.

The successor to Monegan had to resign less than two weeks after he was hired, because of past sexual harassment charges. The next guy only came in on September 12, with the investigation already well under way.
10.12.2008 2:20pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
I agree with David Post and find most of the comments above baseless. They assume facts not in evidence (that Wooten was a "rogue trooper"), treat a nuanced and fair-minded report by a neutral person, released by a bipartisan committee, as hopelessly biased without any actual evidence of bias, and ignore additional troubling aspects of Palin's conduct.

Consider the business of Wooten being a "rogue trooper". What exactly is the evidence for this? There is mention of an incident in which he tased his step-son but no details of this are discussed. We don't know if it is true, and if true, we don't know what actually happened. Maybe he's a big kid and was out of control and violent? Maybe it never happened. We don't know. There's a brief mention of an incident of drinking on duty, which appears to have involved drinking one (1) beer at a party and taking a second beer with him. There's no other information about the circumstances and nothing about whether it was even true. Suppose it was, and that he did not become drunk and had no record of doing so. A brief suspension might well be appropriate. Lots of cops have had a drink on duty and not been fired. The claim that Wooten is a "rogue trooper" is simply not justified by the evidence that is publicly available.

One of the incidents about which we actually do receive information in the report is both minor and reveals further corruption on the part of Palin. Wooten was charged (not in a legal sense) with shooting a moose without a tag. Apparently what happened is that he and other members of his family, including his then wife Molly (Palin's sister) and his then father-in-law (Palin's father) went hunting together. Wooten had no moose tag, but his wife did. They were together but he pulled the trigger. They used his wife's tag. Two points. First, this is probably a technical violation of the hunting regulations but in fact is rather common and often winked at (at least in other places - I don't know about Alaska, but the report doesn't seem to treat the violation as severe). Second, when the matter was investigated, the investigators pointed out to the Palins that if they were to charge Wooten they would also have to charge Palin's sister and father, at which point the Palins lost interest. In other words, they weren't interested in rigorous enforcement of the hunting regulations, they were interested in getting Wooten.
10.12.2008 2:23pm
Constant (mail):
Few things are more tiring than non-libertarians telling libertarians what they, as libertarians, are supposed to think. I have yet to see a non-libertarian successfully get inside the head of a libertarian.

(I don't know for a fact that David Post is not a libertarian, but in this post he does seem to write about them as if he were holding them at arm's length.)
10.12.2008 2:29pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Did Palin have extensive knowledge of the various crimes/flaws of other bad cops? While I'd appreciate the governor and anyone else with the power to do so working to get rid of bad cops, the governor probably doesn't learn about that sort of thing unless someone screws up badly enough that they actually get fired/prosecuted and the governor wouldn't have to do anything anyway."


Well I don't know about Alaska, but where I come from, there's tons of public knowledge about bad cops who haven't been fired. A lot of them have much worse records than Wooten. I'll bet things aren't much different in Alaska.

If anyone wants to take on the problem of bad cops, there's plenty of evidence out there for it, no matter where you are. For some strange reason, it doesn't appear to be a priority for most politicians. I'm guessing Palin was never any different (divorced ex-relatives aside).
10.12.2008 2:29pm
Careless:


If anyone wants to take on the problem of bad cops, there's plenty of evidence out there for it, no matter where you are. For some strange reason, it doesn't appear to be a priority for most politicians. I'm guessing Palin was never any different (divorced ex-relatives aside).

It's not a question of whether or not it's possible to know, but whether or not she did know. It's not the governor's job to police the police, but in this case she happened to have knowledge of a particular officer. So again, do you know or even suspect that Palin was aware of other bad cops that she did nothing about?
10.12.2008 2:32pm
LN (mail):
There is mention of an incident in which he tased his step-son but no details of this are discussed. We don't know if it is true, and if true, we don't know what actually happened. Maybe he's a big kid and was out of control and violent? Maybe it never happened. We don't know.

Bill -- we do know details about the taser incident. From Wikipedia:

Wooten was also found to have violated department policy in using a Taser on his then 11-year old stepson in 2003. He told investigators that he did so "in a training capacity" after the child had asked to be tased. In a September 2008 newspaper interview, Wooten said that he set the Taser to "test" mode, meaning that it was on low power. In a statement to police, the boy said "he wanted to be tased to show that he's not a mommy's boy in front of Bristol [his cousin, Palin's daughter]. Following being tased he went upstairs to tell his mother that he was fine." In a statement to police, Molly McCann said "she was up stairs giving a bath to the kids … Mike was going to show Payton what it feels like and she told Mike that he better not." According to Molly's account, she remained upstairs during the incident.

Although the Taser incident happened in 2003, it was not reported to police until on or after April 11, 2005, the day McCann filed for divorce. On June 6, 2005, a police investigator asked Bristol why they "waited so long and brought the incident up after two years." Bristol said "because of the divorce."


This story isn't very complicated. There's a divorce and the family gets pissed off. They try to throw the book at him but he only gets hit on a couple of charges and gets suspended for 10 days. Palin assumes a position of authority over him and now it's payback time. It's all just stupid petty shit. I know, who would suspect America's greatest energy expert to have this kind of backstory?
10.12.2008 2:32pm
Sagar (mail):
Libertarians are concerned about state power, particularly as it is used against citizens (may include the undocumented variety also). When a Governor ('s spouse) is petitioning (complaining to) the police chief to properly punish a "bad" cop, I don't think libertarians are worried about abuse of power. Merely the fact that Palin's interest (to punish he ex b-i-l or protect her parents/sister) coincides with the general public interest is not enough to declare she is in violation.

The bit about Todd being given "access to State power" - please, he is the governor's husband and lives with her. Don't tell me his using the phone is the Ethics violation we have to guard against. these posts seem like fish in a barrel.
10.12.2008 2:32pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Mahan Atma's last couple of comments can be boiled down to two words in the last one: "I'm guessing".
10.12.2008 2:33pm
Stash:
The charges might have been politically motivated. So what? If you let Palin off the hook because of the bad motivation for the charges, then you must also be prepared let Wooten off the hook because although long known about, none of the charges were brought until the messy divorce.

Second, I fail to understand how it is a libertarian idea to allow people with a personal grudge against a police officer to attempt to use backdoor, illegal methods to remove him--even if the grudge-holders are absolutely correct in their assessment.

Let me repeat: the violation is insignificant morally, and I think as a factor in the election. However, there was a violation, and it was against libertarian principles. To paraphrase another poster, if that were the only violation of libertarian principles by any of the candidates I would be ecstatic.
10.12.2008 2:33pm
Jerry Mimsy (www):
One of the reasons that I’m a supporter of Governor Palin is that she held the police to the same standards she did everyone else. When she froze spending in Alaska, that included the state troopers. Monegan tried to get around it by diverting funds for trooper pay to his own pet projects, and then claimed he needed more money to pay troopers. She still said no. That takes at least a small amount of fortitude. He continued to try to work around her, trying to find unrefusable projects with which to increase his budget. She continued to say no, and when he continued working behind her back through the corrupt old-boys network in Washington, re-assigned him. That took a lot of fortitude and clear principles.

You can see a very short discussion of this starting at page 69 in the report. The top of page 70 continues the perfect seque into the Wooten issue:

Finally, the record contains evidence that Governor Palin lost confidence in Commissioner Monegan when, on the eve of the 2008 annual Police Memorial Day ceremony, he sent her a photograph to sign and present at that event, but failed to realize it was actually a photograph of Trooper Michael Wooten.


"Hey, remember that cop who threatened to kill your father? I think he's the perfect symbol for honoring the State Police."

Either Monegan is a complete asshole, or Todd Palin had not been trying very hard to influence him on Wooten.

But there is good reason for the Palins to have been asking about the investigation of the man who threatened to kill Sarah Palin's father. The report appears to show that the police unions in Alaska are just as powerful as they are elsewhere. In particular, I learned from the report that when someone files a complaint about an officer, Alaskan law forbids the investigators from letting the complainant know anything about the investigation—even whether it’s been completed, according to the officers quoted in the report. One of the reasons Todd Palin kept asking about Wooten--this is from the report--is that he didn't know how the investigation had completed or even for certain that it had completed. You can see a discussion of this on page 10 of the report, and the recommendation on page 79 that this be changed.
10.12.2008 2:37pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
LN,

Thanks. As I suspected, the taser incident amounts to nothing. As far as I can tell, the details are not in the report.

This raises a tangential issue. Has anybody else noticed that the PDF of the report is not searchable? It turns out to be a the result of a scan of the paper report. That's weird and not very helpful. Is somebody trying to make it hard to study the report or is this just poor use of technology?
10.12.2008 2:39pm
Federal Dog:
"Yes, if Palin's July 2008 firing of Walter Monegan had only been investigated back in 2007, none of this would have interfered with John McCain's Presidential campaign."

But that discharge was ruled "proper and lawful." The only allegation of impropriety is about conduct in 2006 and 2007. Had the only alleged impropriety been investigated when it occurred - which no one apparently felt was necessary -- it would have been dismissed, thus confirming the feeling that the matter required no investigation.
10.12.2008 2:53pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
So tasering your stepson is "nothing" as long as he asked for it and it's on a low setting? How about if your 11-year-old asks if he can shoot your service revolver as long as it's only loaded with blanks? Is that OK, too? Neither is OK with me. Too much chance of a fatal error. Not to mention that even cop's (step)children should not be encouraged to believe that tasers are toys.
10.12.2008 2:53pm
LN (mail):
Jerry, you forgot to mention how Palin initially responded to the claims that Monegan was fired because he didn't fire Wooten.


“To allege that I, or any member of my family, requested, received or released confidential personnel information on an Alaska State Trooper, or directed disciplinary action be taken against any employee of the Department of Public Safety, is, quite simply, outrageous. Any information regarding personnel records came from the trooper himself. I question the timing of these false allegations. It is unfortunate, as we seek to address a growing energy crisis in this state, that this matter has been raised now.

“I do not interfere with the day-to-day operations of any department. Former Commissioner Monegan was not released due to any actions or inaction related to personnel issues in his department. We had hoped the former commissioner would have stayed in state service to help fight alcohol-related crime. We offered him the position of executive director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control board and, unfortunately, he turned it down.


And then there was this August interview:


She said that one of her goals had been to combat alcohol abuse in rural Alaska, and she blamed Commissioner Monegan for failing to address the problem. That, she said, was a big reason that she’d let him go—only, by her account, she didn’t fire him, exactly. Rather, she asked him to drop everything else and single-mindedly take on the state’s drinking problem, as the director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. “It was a job that was open, commensurate in salary pretty much—ten thousand dollars less”—but, she added, Monegan hadn’t wanted the job, so he left state service; he quit.


How refreshing.
10.12.2008 2:57pm
anon789:
Good question, Professor Post. Very good question.

I have been amazed at the lack of news coverage of this issue. A bi-partisan panel of 8 Republicans and 4 Democrats finds that the Governor (who was chosen because she is supposedly a maverick) abused her power and violated the Alaska state ethics code, and nobody seems to care?!
10.12.2008 2:59pm
Jerry Mimsy (www):
LN@1:57pm: Sorry if I'm being obtuse, but what's the relation to what I posted? Or is there some contradiction between the two quotes in your post that I should be seeing?
10.12.2008 3:03pm
just me (mail):
If the 10 year old was an adult, it would be defensible.

But using a taser on a child-especially a taser issued by the police department-is wrong on so many levels. My daughter badly wanted me to let her jump off the porch roof into the snow banks last winter-I refused, because it wasn't safe.

Wooten's behaviors aren't defensible.

I do think there is something screwed up when a person makes a complaint about a state trooper and doesn't have any right to know how the investigation proceeded or what the punishment was if the trooper was found guilty. Even with calls to CPS you can find out the disposition of complaints in the general (ie a case was opened, not opened etc).
10.12.2008 3:07pm
LN (mail):
But that discharge was ruled "proper and lawful." The only allegation of impropriety is about conduct in 2006 and 2007. Had the only alleged impropriety been investigated when it occurred - which no one apparently felt was necessary -- it would have been dismissed, thus confirming the feeling that the matter required no investigation.

Um, the trigger for the investigation was Monegan's dismissal, not a Presidential election. Palin was already under investigation before McCain picked her.

By similar logic, what do you think about the taser incident being reported 2 years after the fact, but exactly the day after Palin's sister filed for divorce? Clearly Wooten became a rogue cop only after he left Palin's family. Before then, no one could be bothered to care about the public interest and dangerous rogue troopers.
10.12.2008 3:08pm
Federal Dog:
"the Governor (who was chosen because she is supposedly a maverick) abused her power and violated the Alaska state ethics code, and nobody seems to care?!"

It has received plenty of coverage. Many people, quite reasonably, do not credit political show trials. Perhaps not having an open Obama partisan assume control, then openly announce that it would produce an October surprise, might have helped mask its purpose as election-year theater.
10.12.2008 3:13pm
Dan M.:
Before saying that she violated ethics laws, read the entire statute that Branchflower says she violated. He only quotes section a.

Sec. 39.52.110. Scope of code; prohibition of unethical conduct.

(a) The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust. In addition, the legislature finds that, so long as it does not interfere with the full and faithful discharge of an officer's public duties and responsibilities, this chapter does not prevent an officer from following other independent pursuits. The legislature further recognizes that

(1) in a representative democracy, the representatives are drawn from society and, therefore, cannot and should not be without personal and financial interests in the decisions and policies of government;

(2) people who serve as public officers retain their rights to interests of a personal or financial nature; and

(3) standards of ethical conduct for members of the executive branch need to distinguish between those minor and inconsequential conflicts that are unavoidable in a free society, and those conflicts of interests that are substantial and material.

(b) Unethical conduct is prohibited, but there is no substantial impropriety if, as to a specific matter, a public officer's

(1) personal or financial interest in the matter is insignificant, or of a type that is possessed generally by the public or a large class of persons to which the public officer belongs; or

(2) action or influence would have insignificant or conjectural effect on the matter.

(c) The attorney general, designated supervisors, hearing officers, and the personnel board must be guided by this section when issuing opinions and reaching decisions.

(d) Stock or other ownership interest in a business is presumed insignificant if the value of the stock or other ownership interest, including an option to purchase an ownership interest, is less than $5,000.
10.12.2008 3:15pm
LN (mail):
Jerry, sorry, I think I misread your post. Oops. Please disregard my response.
10.12.2008 3:19pm
pluribus:
Patent Lawyer:

Funny how it's all Palin, all the time, and these Dem scandals barely come up.

Funny how partisanship twists the truth. We have just been talking ad nauseam about Ayers. Palin herself has been saying from the platform that Obama "pals around with terrorists." And you expect us to believe "it's all Palin, all the time." Get real.
10.12.2008 3:20pm
Federal Dog:
"Um, the trigger for the investigation was Monegan's dismissal, not a Presidential election. Palin was already under investigation before McCain picked her."

I know. Monegan falsely claimed wrongful discharge. No one disputes that. As stated, the only alleged impropriety had long since occurred, yet no one -- including Monegan -- had felt at the time it had occurred that it was in fact improper and worthy of investigation. It was just something Monegan alleged well after the fact to bolster his frivolous claim of wrongful discharge.
10.12.2008 3:22pm
Oren:
just me -- the problem was that everyone laughed at the taser incident and didn't say anything about it for 2 years. Then, all of a sudden, they decided it was important enough to bring up again (coincidentally, right around the time of the divorce).

If they seriously thought it was important enough to complain, they would have done so at the time. They didn't.
10.12.2008 3:23pm
vassil petrov (mail):
You’d think that libertarians would be concerned about a charge that a state executive abused her executive power for personal gain – not financial gain, but to advance a personal agenda. Executive power unconstrained by law, to the libertarians, is the paramount threat to liberty – neither the legislative nor the judicial branches can accomplish anything without the state’s monopoly on the use of force, wielded by the executive.

Not true. The only threat to liberty is the use of coercion or thrats of coercion against PRIVATE INDUIVIDUAL's life, liberty or property not in accordance with general preexisting known laws.
Here we are talking about a government officer and the chief executive right in selecting and having say in selecting who the government officer is to be.

As a libertarian I couldn't care less who the government officer or the bureaucrat is, so long his power to coerce is restrained in the manner described above.

As a policy matter, I have nothing against the idea that all executive officer hold their office during pleasure.
10.12.2008 3:24pm
Jay Myers:
The ethics statute says, "any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action". Even if Todd Palin was meeting people in the Governor's office and using her phone that doesn't make what he was doing an "official action" by the Governor.

If replacing Monegan had something to do with trying to fire Trooper Wooten then wouldn't Monegan's replacement have fired Wooten? Monegan himself says that Governor Palin never ordered that Wooten be fired.


Monegan also said that he did feel pressured to dismiss the trooper, Mike Wooten.

"No one ever said 'fire him,' " he said. "They said things like-this man should not be a trooper. This man shouldn't represent the troopers. Those kinds of things, which are inferring that, to fire him."


Again, remember that the standard is "official action". Bitching about someone does not seem like an official action. It's not like Palin said, "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome trooper?"
10.12.2008 3:29pm
M. Gross (mail):
I don't have an objection as a libertarian, but then again, that's really independent of my political views, as I really don't see much in the way of pressure in the evidence provided.

Side note:

As a policy matter, I have nothing against the idea that all executive officer hold their office during pleasure.


Things brings so many, many questions to mind...
10.12.2008 3:30pm
pmorem (mail):
Constant wrote:
I have yet to see a non-libertarian successfully get inside the head of a libertarian.

I see plenty of non-libertarians claiming to know what goes on inside a libertarian's head. Lots of others will nod in agreement that that is what the libertarians think.

David Post really has no clue as to the contents of my head.
10.12.2008 3:39pm
Norman Bates (mail):
I would assume that most libertarians regard due process as a necessary let on government power. Therefore, most libertarians would regard the "investigation" of Governor Palin as highly suspect. It was managed by a political enemy who is on record as stating, before the investigation began, that he was going to embarrass Palin. It was conducted and documented by a crony of this man. Even so, the resulting report does not make a convincing case that even minor infractions of Alaskan criminal or administrative law occurred. Given this, I suspect that many, if not most, libertarians might want reasonable process before jumping to any conclusions about Governor Palin's possible misdeeds.
10.12.2008 3:47pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
As an article in Time points out today, the real problem as the left wing elite see troopergate is that the attempts to protect themselves and the public from this officer were "amateurish", and its this amateurishness that is troubling, not what Gov. Palin wanted done.

The article basically states without intending to so do, that they prefer politicians with the sophisticated ability to fire masses of innocent people just to get the one they were really after. The article suggests the left wing elite prefer the sophisticated Clinton approach to these matters. If you want to fire the United States Attorney whom has been investigating your possible criminal actions, don't tell anyone that's what you want, just fire every single United States Attorney in the entire country, including naturally the one you really have a vendetta against.

Somehow, I can't seem to agree that it is positive character trait that one can be so cold hearted and cold blooded as to fire 50 people in order to get 1 versus the amateur trait of trying to get back at the 1 you intend to fire.

If Palin had been the sophisticated democrat the left wing elite admire, she would have had but one mention covered by many other things about Wooten. Then waited several months, fired the guy she fired (possibly with several other completely innocent people so as to make it look like a general house cleaning), and then installed someone at the Police Commissioner's job who didn't have to be asked, but already knew what to do. Quietly, and without fanfare.

Says the "Dog"
10.12.2008 3:49pm
Laura S.:
What about the other defense: "personal experience". Let's say you believe something to be so, e.g., Gov. Palin believed that this officer was unfit and took action. This describes many politicians actions. i.e., Obama clearly believes in expanding Medicare into a general program.

But lets suppose you believe those things for the "wrong" reasons. Gov. Palin acts as a result of her personal experiences with the Trooper--and perhaps an internal revulsion at the abuses that law enforcement often gets away with.

Sen. Obama told us recently that he was motivated by the personal experience of his mother's struggle with her insurance companies. (No doubt coupled with his internalized notions of social justice).

I suspect that Obama plans to use the powers of his office to pursue his goals, perhaps including having his wife call members of Congress.

You see the parallel?

This is not an ethics issue for Palin. Its a judgment issue. The critical question is whether her judgment that this Trooper was a bad apple was correct. Only with that determination in hand can we conclude whether her reason or her emotions carried the day, and that is what matters to her fitness to lead, not whether her private experience gives vigor to some of her actions.
10.12.2008 3:55pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
There is mention of an incident in which he tased his step-son but no details of this are discussed. We don't know if it is true, and if true, we don't know what actually happened. Maybe he's a big kid and was out of control and violent? Maybe it never happened. We don't know. There's a brief mention of an incident of drinking on duty, which appears to have involved drinking one (1) beer at a party and taking a second beer with him. There's no other information about the circumstances and nothing about whether it was even true. Suppose it was, and that he did not become drunk and had no record of doing so.


But we do know. The police reports on the matter have been made widely available. Wooten is not contesting their contents, and they make it clear exactly what happened. All of the events are unacceptable in a state trooper.

He tasered a pre-teen because, and realize that this is his defense, the kid 'wanted to know what it felt like', and 'only' tasered him for 'like a second'. That's his side, and it still involves him using a dangerous weapon on a ten-year-old.

He drank beer while driving a state vehicle off-duty. The off-duty part is his defense The open canister in a moving vehicle alone is and was still illegal under Alaska's laws, nevermind the part where he was drinking and driving at the same time.

We know these are true.
10.12.2008 3:57pm
Helene Edwards (mail):
Did you say "niggling"? To many people in hollywood, san francisco, madison, and greenwich village, you are now a racist.
10.12.2008 4:00pm
matt b (mail):
i have a fundamental concern with ethics laws. ethics laws serve a very narrow set of interests for those empowered with the enforcing ethics laws. this case, the legislature is empowered to investigate an enemy executive (ie a governor rooting out corruption, favoritism, good ol' boyism). always have a healthy skepticism)
10.12.2008 4:03pm
egrim (mail):
DP's hysteria rears its ugly, irrational head again. How predictable. The second comment, by Daryl Herbert, sums up pretty well the reason I think "Tasergate" is is trivial:


. . . you're missing the corruption angle. Wooten was allowed to stay on despite being a serial criminal. The police investigation found that Wooten did commit those crimes.

It gave him a slap on the wrist (10 days suspension, that the union got reduced to 5 days) because of the good old boy network--the idea that cops don't punish other cops.

Cops protecting each other, instead of protecting us, is what distresses libertarians.
10.12.2008 4:05pm
egrim (mail):
Bill Poser (poser - how appropriate) writes,


I agree with David Post and find most of the comments above baseless. They assume facts not in evidence (that Wooten was a "rogue trooper") . . .


If Poser had spent, say, 1.8 seconds Googling Wooten's name he may have found that that Wooten is a bona fide bad guy who was protected from any real punishment by the police union. We can reasonably dismiss anything else Poser has to say as not worth reading.

"Dr. Weevil" writes, "Mahan Atma's last couple of comments can be boiled down to two words in the last one: 'I'm guessing'." Exactly.
10.12.2008 4:05pm
Blar (mail) (www):
On point 1, I don't see how you can say that this investigation was motivated by support for Obama. The investigation was started on July 28, back when Palin was a long, long shot for the VP slot on the ticket, by a unanimous 12-0 vote of the majority-Republican Alaska Legislative Council. Unanimously, Branchflower was named investigator and given a 3-month contract, ending at the end of October, and French was picked to oversee him.

After McCain picked Palin, the one thing that the investigation changed is to get the report out sooner, so that it wouldn't be released in the week before the election.
10.12.2008 4:09pm
LN (mail):
He tasered a pre-teen because, and realize that this is his defense, the kid 'wanted to know what it felt like', and 'only' tasered him for 'like a second'. That's his side, and it still involves him using a dangerous weapon on a ten-year-old.

And instead of reporting him to the authorities right away, Palin's family didn't say anything for two years... until her sister filed for divorce.

That's dedicated public service for you.
10.12.2008 4:09pm
Anomolous:
I don't think many libertarians get misty eyed when one group of government thugs persecutes another group of government thugs. If they're busy in-fighting, maybe they'll have less time to bug the general public.
10.12.2008 4:22pm
Dave N (mail):
I said on the other thread that this was pretty thin gruel. I do find it interesting that some of the examples of pressure were Todd Palin's reporting OTHER, more recent behavior on Wooten's part.

By the way, as long as Professor Post thinks libertarians ought to be outraged, where is the outrage at the Star Chamber way this investigation was handled--that is, questioning without cross-examination and generally in secret.
10.12.2008 4:24pm
Mike Keenan:
"How exactly did would firing Wooten 3 years after his divorce protect her sister and her nephew?"

Good point, but (aside from very drastic actions) not much really would protect them. The governor's thinking may have been that he would not be in an official position where he could use that in some way against her sister.
10.12.2008 4:27pm
James Love (mail):
The Alaska Legislative Council is made up of 10 Republicans and 4 Democrats.
10.12.2008 4:34pm
josh:
The most fantastic thing about this whole mess is the inability to see the irony of it all. Some people have been hyperventilating for months now, trying to tie Obama to the corrupt Chicago machine, not realzing that the very same arguments could come back to bite their guy (and girl) in the rear.

This campaign has been so much about whining about Tony Rezco, Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers -- and defending Charles Keating, Rev. Haggee, the Alaska Independence Party and this silly Troopergate scandal -- that credibility has been left in the dust.
10.12.2008 4:38pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
And instead of reporting him to the authorities right away, Palin's family didn't say anything for two years... until her sister filed for divorce.


If the criticism here is that she wasn't able to pry information on a matter out of a family member or display clairvoyance, it's on the nose but probably not particularly engaging.

I've already stated that you'll find a lot of libertarian criticism on this matter for Palin acting too slowly or not doing this a few hundred times, but that does not change the answer when the question is why libertarians think this particular firing is perfectly fine.
10.12.2008 4:39pm
MarkField (mail):

By the way, as long as Professor Post thinks libertarians ought to be outraged, where is the outrage at the Star Chamber way this investigation was handled--that is, questioning without cross-examination and generally in secret.


I think most investigations are handled this way. At least, the ones I'm familiar with (internal corporate investigations) are. But in my understanding, this is also the case for governmental agencies (think of the recent report re the US Attorney firings).
10.12.2008 5:34pm
Dave N (mail):
Mark FIeld,

I would generally agree. However, the report talks about depositions--which by definition would be a recorded interrogation under oath. By implying that the statements must be truthful because they were given under oath creates a problem when there is no opportunity for cross-examination.
10.12.2008 5:45pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
I think in a properly liberarian world, Wooten would have been taken out for a walk in the woods from which he never returned.

Instead, the governor when through the proper channels to mitigate the damage Wooten could do to both her family and the citizens of the state of Alaska.

That those interests intersect is, perhaps, unfortunate. The intersection certainly does not rise to any reasonable definition of corruption.
10.12.2008 5:55pm
just me (mail):
the problem was that everyone laughed at the taser incident and didn't say anything about it for 2 years.

Does this actually make it okay?

As far as I know most police agencies have very strict rules on how equipment issued to officers can be used and in what circumstance. I am pretty sure using department issued equipment-especially the type that comes with some risk-to taser your 10 year old even if he asked for it doesn't meet those rules. Also, I haven't read anywhere that said it was laughed off, it just went unreported. I have to say that a lot of abused women wait a very long time to report things out of fear of the perpetrator. The irony here is that if Palin was a democrat the ladies of NOW would be lined up behind her screaming about domestic violence, but she isn't.

Whether they reported it the minute it happened or two years later doesn't make the tasering acceptable either in his role as officer or as a father.
10.12.2008 5:58pm
LN (mail):
The irony here is that if Palin was a democrat the ladies of NOW would be lined up behind her screaming about domestic violence, but she isn't


If Michael Wooten was Sarah Palin's brother, everyone here would be screaming about how some wackos are accusing him of domestic abuse despite all such charges being dismissed, and how other wackos are saying that it would be morally justified to kill him for what he's done. Feminism would be to blame, for creating a society in which men can't catch a break and are always assumed to be guilty. Women get all the breaks in custody cases, and it sucks. Moreover, people complaining about the taser incident would be liberal pussies who want the government to intervene in some harmless father-son interaction.

This is the Volokh Conspiracy right?
10.12.2008 6:16pm
Dionysius (mail):
A libertarian's desire for small government arises, in part from the expectation of abuse of power by anyone with it. This libertarian should just sit back and sadly accept this nonsense in Alaska as more proof of the correctness of that expectation.

The last thing a libertarian should do is get upset or angry, except at the obtuseness of those who don't draw the proper lesson and are therefore upset and angry.
10.12.2008 6:22pm
Common sense says...:
... you can violate ethical laws without violating criminal laws or otherwise. That's the case here; plain as day. She and her husband used state resources for a personal issue that cost a good person his job--a person praised by Palin herself.

Also, this is hardly a partisan investigation. If you folks actually LIVED in AK, you'd know it. The investigation was begun BEFORE she became your party's media darling. It was also a UNANIMOUS decision of the AK legislature, which is by no means full of dems. In fact, the final report was released by EIGHT republicans and only FOUR democrats.

Anyone calling this partisan is an idiot.

This only became a "partisan" issue when the national republican party showed up. Actually, accusations of partisanship only came up AFTER the national republicans showed up.

Finally, for those of you who don't know, the report was pushed up to not interfere with the election. It was originally going to publish within a week. What's worse?
10.12.2008 6:33pm
NickM (mail) (www):
"[P]ersonal interest" may be an unconstitutionally vague or overbroad term in the statute.

Let's say that the Governor of Alaska had pushed strongly for bringing the Seattle NBA franchise to Anchorage because she's a devoted basketball fan and greatly wanted to be able to purchase season tickets and go to games regularly.

Would that be a violation of the statute?

Nick
10.12.2008 6:35pm
Anon #319:
Add this question to your prior musing about "is this guy really a professor": Why does Cato associate with you?

Really, I think you have lost total perspective when it comes to her. Now, you're trying to recruit libertarians into you madness. If Palin had been in the primaries, she would have been probably my fourth choice. So, I've got no real dog in this fight.

But really you're sounding a lot like Frank Rich.
10.12.2008 6:39pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Depends on whose ox.
Think of the line up for the White House Travel Office firings.
10.12.2008 6:47pm
D-I-V-O-R-C-E:
LN brought up the custody case, and that's being overlooked here. Wooten's final divorce decree went so far to say: "It is the mother's [Hackett's] responsibility to set boundaries for her relatives and insure [sic] they respect them, and the disparagement by either parent, or their surrogates is emotional child abuse," Judge Suddock wrote. He added that: "If the court finds it is necessary due to disparagement in the Mat-Su Valley, for the children's best interests, it will not hesitate to order custody to the father and a move into Anchorage." This is highly unusual for a divorce decree, but harassment of Wooten was that bad. Sarah and Todd are blatantly in contempt. Sounds like Wooten has a good shot at full custody now. The Palins ignored the court order, ignored Palin's own attorney who told her to back off and come clean, and ignored Monegan and others who warned them to stay at arm's length, so hell bent were they on pursuing their vendetta. They acted like petty despots in a petty state. The Federalists instituted an expanded scheme of representation over an extended republic precisely to avoid such parochial despotism. By the way, according to Judge Suddock, the Palin's have committed "emotional child abuse"...
10.12.2008 7:15pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
It is funny how Sarah Palin gets people like David Post upset.
10.12.2008 7:27pm
MarkField (mail):

However, the report talks about depositions--which by definition would be a recorded interrogation under oath. By implying that the statements must be truthful because they were given under oath creates a problem when there is no opportunity for cross-examination.


Yeah, and "deposition" seems to be the wrong word. "Statements under oath" would be better, even if the giver had an attorney present. I don't know what else Branchflower could have done, though, since Palin first said she would cooperate and then refused. Perhaps if she had cooperated, she could have insisted on having her counsel present and able to cross-examine. That's the problem with a boycott (see, e.g., Russia and the Korean War).

I think the rest of your comment goes to whether the AK legislature should act on this report. For exactly the reason you suggest, I think it should not even though Palin herself is partly to blame. It might, however, decide to conduct hearings with Palin and her counsel participating this time. At the conclusion of those, it might choose to act.
10.12.2008 7:53pm
Xmas (mail) (www):
Why aren't libertarians up in arms about Palin and her family talking (TALKING!) to people about an ex-brother-in-law?

Because we are too gobsmacked by a First Amendment smashing candidate (McCain-Feingold), a civil liberties smashing candidated (RAVE act), and by-all-appearance nigh-socialist (ACORN and Ayers) in all the other slots.

Some Christian conservative who appears to have reined in some of the corruption prevalent in Alaska politics is, amazingly, a breath of fresh air.

If the worst that's come up about Palin is this, when her political peers are all as bad as Senator Ted "Bridge to Nowhere" Stevens, then it appears to be nothing more than making mountains out of molehills.
10.12.2008 7:55pm
fortyninerdweet (mail):
David, the libertarians I know are more distressed over the "good old boy" PSEA than the reassignment of Wooten. But that's not what you wanted to hear, apparently. You need to stop playing at politics and start working on public policy issues.

Public employee unions in every state unreasonably preserve the jobs of the incompetent, lazy and sometimes even outright dangerous civil servants, to the serious detriment of society - but nobody cares. That's the crime, imo.
10.12.2008 8:17pm
Bill Dyer (mail) (www):
I've now posted a reply to Prof. Post's observations here about my original post.

In a sentence: There's no "official action" other than the reassignment (or threat to fire or reassign) Monegan. And that official action can't simultaneously be perfectly legal and proper to perform, yet illegal and improper to threaten (even if it had been, which it actually wasn't).
10.12.2008 8:38pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

The Alaska Legislative Council is made up of 10 Republicans and 4 Democrats.


You do realize that Palin is not popular with the GOP establishment in Alaska? That her crusade when she left the oil commission got the GOP AG fired and the GOP State Chairman criminally convicted? That she beat a incumbent GOP governor in the primary? That she got more legislative support from Dems than the GOP?
10.12.2008 8:42pm
JFred (mail):
Can talking and persuading be an "Official action" under Alaska law? ianal, so I'm really asking.
10.12.2008 8:43pm
Johnny Canuck (mail):
Isn"t the issue with Palin the same as the firing of the U.S. Attorneys- they serve at the pleasure of the President, so he can fire them for no reason, but he cannot fire them for an improper reason?
10.12.2008 8:56pm
SAZMD:

If they seriously thought it was important enough to complain, they would have done so at the time. They didn't.


And if Monegan thought he was being pressured, he should have said so at the time. Did he? And if he thought the Governor was being unethical in her behavior, he was obligated under state law to file a complaint. He didn't.

Interesting that Monegan's story changed over time, growing more certain that it was Wooten all along. He insisted that it couldn't be because he wasn't a team player. Of course, the emails released by the Governor's office show that to be a lie.
10.12.2008 9:13pm
MikeS (mail):
I have yet to see a non-libertarian successfully get inside the head of a libertarian.

I don't think it's that difficult. Libertarians are people who express their disdain for both major political parties by faithful repetition of Republican talking points.
10.12.2008 9:21pm
SAZMD:
Some here seem very concerned about due process. Violations of the Ethics Act are determined by the Personnel Board, not the Legislature (or its investigator). In fact, after the report came out, one of the council members stated that the next step was the Personnel Board. Should not the Governor have her due process? The investigator had no business ruling on the Ethics Act. His is not the final word on the matter.
10.12.2008 9:24pm
Bad (mail) (www):
Don't forget that she lied about not knowing anything about this for quite a awhile. Abusing your power in a minor way can certainly be compounded as a mark against ones character when you look straight at the people you serve and lie to their faces about what you know and did.
10.12.2008 10:02pm
Doc W (mail):

Libertarians are people who express their disdain for both major political parties by faithful repetition of Republican talking points.

Really, MikeS? Libertarians for the most part are appalled by Bush's war, Bush's so-called Patriot Act, and the McCain-Feingold assault on the First Amendment. Are we just repeating Republican talking points?

It IS true, of course, that Republicans talk about smaller government while increasing its size and scope and running up monstrous deficits. In that case, what's going on is Republican politicians repeating libertarian talking points while governing like the contemptible collectivists that they (most of them) and the Democrats are.
10.12.2008 10:07pm
Public_Defender (mail):
The reason bad cops are allowed to stay on the job is the strength of police unionization. They make teachers' unions seem like nothing.

When it comes to featherbedding, wasteful work rules, pay for no work, cushy early retirements, and impossible-to-fire-bad-apple provisions, no union contract is more anti-taxpayer than cop contracts.

It's funny that Republicans never seem to have the same venom for police unions that they have for other unions, especially public-sector unions.
10.12.2008 10:08pm
Constant (mail):
I have yet to see a non-libertarian successfully get inside the head of a libertarian.

I don't think it's that difficult. Libertarians are people who express their disdain for both major political parties by faithful repetition of Republican talking points.


Thanks for demonstrating my point.
10.12.2008 10:23pm
TJIT (mail):
David Post,

The libertarians are shaking their head watching history repeat itself. Once again democrats are trying to advance their political interests by defending bad behavior by law enforcement.

Much like the hearing on the misconduct and incompetence shown by law enforcement actions at waco.

That should have been an excellent time for the republicans and democrats to work together to ensure law enforcement respected citizens rights.

Instead because we had a democrat in the white house the democrats elected to obfuscate and obscure effectively killing the chance for much needed reforms.

Which means we still have nonsense like this occurring.


New Toy for Cobb County, Georgia SWAT Team
10.12.2008 10:24pm
A.S.:
The Alaska Legislative Council is made up of 10 Republicans and 4 Democrats

Which is relevant how, exactly? This was not a report OF the Alaska Legislative Council. It was a report of one single Investigator TO the Alaska Legislative Council.
10.12.2008 10:27pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
The report is facially corrupt, with a headline key "finding" that is not supported by the rest of the "findings" in the body of it, which cites only a general paragraph of the Ethics Act that is void for vagueness if taken by itself.

One also has to wonder about that legislative committee. It appears it may be only a self-selected caucus of Palin's legislative enemies.

The only detailed findings do more to make the actions of the Palins commendable than unethical, and indict the signatories of this report. Given the known facts about Trooper Wooten and his supervisor Monegan, they both deserved to be not only fired, but prosecuted. The Palins exhibited a lot more restraint than I would have.

This Libertarian takes the position that an official position is not an entitlement and that the State of Alaska had no business entering into a cotract with the police union that would protect them from being fired for any reason. When in doubt, fire 'em.
10.12.2008 10:30pm
ponraul:
I don't think you know what "ad hominem" means. Everyone attacked you for the content of your previous posts. That is the opposite of an ah hominen attack.
10.12.2008 11:28pm
David Warner:
ponraul,

"That is the opposite of an ah hominen attack."

Gesundheit. No, it was mostly ad hominem.
10.12.2008 11:36pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
There's a lot of unchallenged misinformation in this thread.

Most of the claims I make below can be easily verified via primary sources that are referenced in the wiki article. google troopergate.
--------------------------------------
guest:

if every morning on the way to the office the Gov drives her car through a suspension destroying pot hole, can she order the road crews to get out there and fix the hole? Or would that be an ethics violation?


It would indeed be an ethics violation if that street was getting special care just because the governor lived there.
--------------------------------------
daryl:

Complaining wasn't an abuse of power because the complaints were legit and they were being sent through the proper channels.


burgess:

the governor when through the proper channels to mitigate the damage Wooten could do


Wrong. They weren't "being sent through the proper channels." No Palin ever made a formal complaint to Monegan. Palin has admitted explicitly that they never filed any other formal complaint, subsequent to the complaints they filed in 2005.

In 2007 and 2008, they just applied pressure, because they knew they had no basis for a formal complaint.

Aside from that, the complaints were not "legit." They were falsified. For example, Palin routinely referenced the DVPO as proof that Wooten is violent, even thought the temporary DVPO was quickly dissolved when the judge found there was no proof of violence. Palin has made that false claim very often, including recently.
--------------------------------------
gatt:

she waited for the beer-drinking-while-driving asshole to threaten the life of her family members


No one outside the family ever heard Wooten threaten anyone. Palin said she heard a threat, but she didn't report it to her father (the target) until a month later. It wasn't reported to the police until two months later (on the day her sister filed for divorce).

When you look closely at the claims about threats, they fall apart. That's why the suspension letter sent to Wooten by Col. Grimes didn't even mention the alleged death threat.
--------------------------------------
quod:

driving a police cruiser while intoxicated


The only witnesses to this event are close friends with Palin's father. And they did not claim Wooten was "intoxicated." They only claimed that Wooten carried an open beer into the car, before driving a mile to his house.
--------------------------------------
quix:

this affected the report, such as when Branchflower, the "independent" investigator mentioned that French controlled his list of subpoenas


This talking point is transparently bogus. I explained why here.

it also explains why no mention was made of Todd's report to the council


The reason "no mention was made of Todd's report to the council" is because Todd didn't respond until 10/8, two days before Branchflower issued his report. Todd was subpoenaed on 9/12. Being late is his own fault. This is a classic example of killing your parents and then asking the judge to have mercy on orphans.
10.13.2008 12:15am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
keenan:

Abuser


You're picking up a false claim that Palin makes routinely. Molly told police that Wooten never abused her. A judge found there was no evidence of violence.
--------------------------------------
stash:

The fact that the complaints were not part of an attempt to reform police disciplinary procedures only highlights that she was pursuing it for her personal interests.


Exactly. There is not the slightest indication that Palin ever took steps "to reform police disciplinary procedures."
--------------------------------------
mckaskle:

apparently the appointment of the successor was NOT conditioned on some sort of understanding that he (or she) would fire Wooten


myers:

If replacing Monegan had something to do with trying to fire Trooper Wooten then wouldn't Monegan's replacement have fired Wooten?


Palin replaced Monegan with Kopp. Palin's people were whining about Wooten to Kopp before Kopp was even hired.
--------------------------------------
sagar:

The bit about Todd being given "access to State power" - please, he is the governor's husband and lives with her. Don't tell me his using the phone is the Ethics violation we have to guard against.


He spends about half his time in her office, doing government business. Is that really OK with you? Even though he pals around with secessionists?
--------------------------------------
mimsy:

when someone files a complaint about an officer, Alaskan law forbids the investigators from letting the complainant know anything about the investigation


There's proof that the Palins knew the outcome of the investigation (into Wooten), early on. Palin has lied about this several times, claiming that they didn't know the outcome until 7/08.

One of the reasons Todd Palin kept asking about Wooten--this is from the report--is that he didn't know how the investigation had completed or even for certain that it had completed.


Notwithstanding various bogus claims Todd has made, he did indeed know "how the investigation had completed."
--------------------------------------
poser:

Has anybody else noticed that the PDF of the report is not searchable?


A searchable version is here.
10.13.2008 12:15am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
federal:

The only allegation of impropriety is about conduct in 2006 and 2007.


You've been making this claim incessantly on multiple threads, even though you've been shown proof the claim is false. The pressure started in 1/07 and continued to at least 5/08.
--------------------------------------
weevil:

So tasering your stepson is "nothing" as long as he asked for it and it's on a low setting?


It's close to nothing. He used demo procedures, because the kid asked for a demo. In a short demo like this, "it would feel like your funny bone was hit." The mom was upstairs and didn't bother coming downstairs to intervene, even though she knew what was happening. After the event, the kid went upstairs to tell his mom he was fine.

By the way, what do you think of parents who let their kids slide down a mountain on a piece of fiberglass? Or parents who let their kids ride ATVs? Or parents who let their kids do cheerleading stunts? Check out the ER stats. Interesting how some forms of danger are more culturally acceptable than others.

Speaking of safety, what do you think of a parent who has her infant on her lap while riding in a truck? That's what Palin did.
--------------------------------------
federal:

having an open Obama partisan assume control, then openly announce that it would produce an October surprise


He didn't say it "would." He said it "could." That's a material difference. He was simply stating an obvious fact.

Incidentally, French was in charge from the very beginning, and Palin repeatedly said she would cooperate with him. And during that time, he was a Democrat and "an open Obama partisan." All that changed is that McCain got involved.

might have helped mask its purpose as election-year theater.


You have been reminded many times that the Branchflower investigation was well-underway before Palin became a candidate.
--------------------------------------
bates:

It was managed by a political enemy who is on record as stating, before the investigation began, that he was going to embarrass Palin


Wrong. French's "October surprise" statement was reported on 9/2. By that time, Branchflower already had statements from most of the witnesses who ended up being included his report.
--------------------------------------
gatt:

The police reports on the matter have been made widely available. Wooten is not contesting their contents


Wrong. He acknowledges the Taser incident and the moose incident, but he denies the beer incident, and all allegations regarding threats.

He drank beer while driving a state vehicle off-duty.


That's what Grimes said, but it's not exactly what the witnesses said. They said only that they saw him carry the open container into the car.

The off-duty part is his defense


Wrong. His defense is that he completely denies the allegation.

The open canister in a moving vehicle alone is and was still illegal under Alaska's laws, nevermind the part where he was drinking and driving at the same time


The witnesses only made a claim about the open canister. They made no claim about "drinking and driving at the same time."

We know these are true.


Not exactly. The original Memorandum of Findings ruled that the beer allegation was "Not Sustained." Probably because the only witness (and his wife) were friends with Heath since he was a kid. And didn't report the incident until a year later, when their friend's daughter needed help with a nasty custody battle.
10.13.2008 12:15am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
dave n:

I said on the other thread that this was pretty thin gruel. I do find it interesting that some of the examples of pressure were Todd Palin's reporting OTHER, more recent behavior on Wooten's part.


How funny that you talk about "thin gruel." Palin's reporting of "OTHER, more recent behavior on Wooten's part" was indeed "thin gruel." It was stuff like Wooten driving his kids in his patrol car. Palin assumed Wooten didn't have permission to do this. But he did.

Sarah Palin has made multiple statements suggesting that Wooten has made recent threats against "the First Family." Those allegations are completely unsubstantiated.
--------------------------------------
keenan:

The governor's thinking may have been that he would not be in an official position where he could use that in some way against her sister.


On the contrary. Branchflower points out correctly that if they were truly afraid of him, the last thing they would do is goad him into retaliation by taking away his job.
--------------------------------------
gatt:

If the criticism here is that she wasn't able to pry information on a matter out of a family member or display clairvoyance


You're suggesting that the Taser incident was a secret (to Sarah) for two years. That's completely implausible. Her daughter Bristol was one of the witnesses.
--------------------------------------
just:

I haven't read anywhere that said it [Taser incident] was laughed off, it just went unreported.


According to Wooten, the kid bragged about it to his friends and asked to do it again. And the family laughed about it. No other witness denies any of this.

a lot of abused women wait a very long time to report things out of fear


Molly told police that Wooten never abused her.
--------------------------------------
nick:

Let's say that the Governor of Alaska had pushed strongly for bringing the Seattle NBA franchise to Anchorage because she's a devoted basketball fan and greatly wanted to be able to purchase season tickets and go to games regularly.

Would that be a violation of the statute?


If a rational observer had reason to conclude that the governor's personal interest was the primary reason for the action, yes. And this finding would be even more credible if we notice the governor hiding and lying about her acts, and then stonewalling an investigation into her acts.
--------------------------------------
dyer:

I've now posted a reply to Prof. Post's observations


Your reply consists of claiming that a bunch of the governor's people applying pressure to get Wooten fired doesn't constitute "official action." You seem to be claiming that "official action" could only be the governor sitting in her official chair and signing official documents with her official pen. That's obviously nonsense.
10.13.2008 12:15am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
bob:

You do realize that Palin is not popular with the GOP establishment in Alaska?


Your point seems to be that Rs can't be trusted to investigate her, and Ds can't be trusted to investigate her. So who gets to investigate her? Only people with whom she is "popular?" That's quite a system you're implying. Why not just declare her Queen of Alaska, since no one has standing to constrain her acts?
--------------------------------------
saz:

if Monegan thought he was being pressured, he should have said so at the time. Did he?


Yes. He tried to warn her off. This was, among other things, for her own protection. She was too dumb to take his good advice. Her acts were not just unethical and illegal. They were self-destructive.

if he thought the Governor was being unethical in her behavior, he was obligated under state law to file a complaint.


At first he was hoping she would come to her senses. Also, it's understandable that he would see problem with filing a complaint with the Personnel Board which is appointed by the governor.

the emails released by the Governor's office show that to be a lie.


Actually, those emails prove that Palin is the liar. One of them shows that Nizich knew the purpose of Monegan's trip.

Violations of the Ethics Act are determined by the Personnel Board, not the Legislature


You're basically saying that only the executive branch has the right to investigate the executive branch. How Bushist of you. Palin is truly Bush in a skirt.
--------------------------------------
patent:

Obama's massive earmark to his wife's hospital


His wife's hospital never received that earmark. It was never passed. Another important fact you may not know: also on Obama's list were earmarks for about eight other Chicago hospitals. And most of those other earmarks were larger.

If he really wanted to help his wife's career, he wouldn't be doing so much to support the institutions that compete with her employer. The facts show that he was advocating for health care in general, and not for one hospital.
10.13.2008 12:16am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
as:

This was not a report OF the Alaska Legislative Council. It was a report of one single Investigator TO the Alaska Legislative Council.


You should take up your complaint with the ignorant moonbats at WSJ, who have labeled their link for the report as follows:

Read the full report from the Alaska State Legislature


Then you need to talk to the ignorant moonbats at the Washington Times, who started their article as follows:

Seeking to pre-empt a potentially damaging report from the Alaska State Legislature …


But you're not done yet, because you should also talk to that prominent leftist James Joyner:

The Republican-dominated Alaska legislature released its Troopergate investigation results last night


Even that poor deluded crew at Fox News can't get it straight:

The January 2007 meeting was part of a long pattern of pressure that she and her husband applied on state officials to try to get the trooper fired, according to an Alaska legislative report released Friday.


You've got your work cut out for you.

Branchflower is an agent of the Legislative Council, which represents the Legislature. That's why all the people I cited correctly describe this report as "from" the Legislature.
10.13.2008 12:16am
John Burgess (mail) (www):
Jukeboxgrad: Going through channels in 2005 is still going through channels, nicht wahr? As no action was taken then, she used her executive power to take further action, when she was able to do so. I've got absolutely no problem with that.
10.13.2008 12:29am
Psalm91 (mail):
Noun-verb-Ayers-ACORN Day 3.
10.13.2008 12:38am
SAZMD:

Yes. He tried to warn her off. This was, among other things, for her own protection. She was too dumb to take his good advice. Her acts were not just unethical and illegal. They were self-destructive.

Monegan told her that he should deal with Todd Palin on the matter, which is exactly what happened. Where are his emails to her saying to back off? Is there a reply to her email which supposedly ”pressures” him telling her to back off?

At first he was hoping she would come to her senses. Also, it's understandable that he would see problem with filing a complaint with the Personnel Board which is appointed by the governor.

Monegan doesn’t get to choose whether he files a complaint or not. If he thinks it is unethical, he is compelled by law to report it. Nice of you to impugn the integrity of the Personnel Board with your comment. Two of the three members were appointed by Murkowski, not Palin.

Actually, those emails prove that Palin is the liar. One of them shows that Nizich knew the purpose of Monegan's trip.

Nice dodge. The emails prove Monegan was wrong about not being a team player, and nothing you wrote refutes that.
You're basically saying that only the executive branch has the right to investigate the executive branch. How Bushist of you. Palin is truly Bush in a skirt.


Actually, I thought the knock against Bush was that he didn’t follow the law. Alaska State Law states that the Personnel Board determines Ethics Acts violations. I didn’t say the Legislative branch couldn’t investigate, I said they could not officially determine a violation. Your problem is not with me or Bush, it is with Alaska State Law.
10.13.2008 12:51am
Kevin P. (mail):
Pukeboxgrad is back at work again, defending a bully. You should watch him justify the tasering of a child, drinking in a state police car, and all the rest.

I consider myself a libertarian and I think the real scandal here is that Trooper Wooten is still wearing a uniform and carrying a gun.
10.13.2008 12:53am
TJIT (mail):
Jukeboxgrad,

You said
Your point seems to be that Rs can't be trusted to investigate her, and Ds can't be trusted to investigate her. So who gets to investigate her?
That sidesteps the problem of how do you get an honest investigation when all investigating parties have strong reasons to bias their results against the person being investigated.

The View on Palin from an Alaskan Anti-Real ID Activist and Democrat

Q: So libertarian-minded people should be fine with that, right?

A: Let me tell you all the nice things about Sarah Palin: Sarah Palin has been a pretty freaking awesome governor.

She came in saying that the entire system was corrupt, and that Republicans were evil, and she was going to just mix everything up and get us a gas pipeline and end of story. And she got to power, she was elected overwhelmingly by independents, beat Tony Knowles, who had been governor before.

The Republicans hate her. If you go and talk to the Alaska delegation here, they despise her.

Q: Really?

A: Hate her. Oh my god! This whole thing about her retarded son really being her daughter's was started by Lyda Green, who is president of the senate, a Republican.
[...]
10.13.2008 12:56am
TJIT (mail):
jukeboxgrad,

You defended the investigators promise to generate an Ocotber surprise saying
French's "October surprise" statement was reported on 9/2. By that time, Branchflower already had statements from most of the witnesses who ended up being included his report.
French's statement renders the results of the investigation highly suspect at best.

I suspect that in most cases if anyone attached to a criminal / administrative investigation made such a prejudicial statement the investigation would be scrapped and started over with new investigators.

Could some criminal defense attorneys comment on this point?
10.13.2008 1:07am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
As far as I can see the scandal, it is this, that:

1) The (esp. Todd) Palins may have pressured Monegan to fire Woolen, which firing never happened, since he still has his job, and

2) Monegan was pushed into resigning apparently because he wasn't a team player and was directly insubordinate to his boss, Gov. Palin. There is apparently no evidence that the Woolen affair had anything to do with this.
10.13.2008 1:47am
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
I'd guess a fair number of the libertarians reading this blog would first ask why you managed to skip past the citation of precedent Beldar offers that, indeed, the Alaskan law is interpreted in just the way that you dismiss; second, they would wonder at the rationale for making a connection between Todd Palin's complaints which began well before the election, continued over time until Monegan was reassigned (not fired; precision with the factual points is helpful) eighteen months later, when there were several perfectly reasonable and more proximate reasons for the reassignment; would third wonder at the reasoning that says she could legally fire Monegan with or without cause, but could not tell him ahead of time that he was on shaky ground; and finally, fourth, would wonder how you end up in the position of defending someone for not firing a state patrolman who committed multiple serious misdemenors and felonies, and whose own appeal included the finding that were he a civilian, he'd have been in jail.
10.13.2008 2:02am
~aardvark (mail):
Bill Poser and LN have covered most of the factual angles on the complaints against Wooten--none of the Palins' claims can be taken unilaterally at face value because they are nothing more than embittered allegations from one side in a divorce. The allegations have been reviewed by the employer under civil service statutes and the matter was closed. The Palins were not satisfied with the outcome and obsessively attempted to influence other state employees to do something they were not in power to do--to remove or to discipline a state trooper beyond the recommendations of the disciplinary review. Every contact the family made in this matter was unethical--and there were three dozen contacts. This is not a "minor violation", especially not to a libertarian.

I also want to address one of Post's original comments.
The investigation was politically motivated. (e.g., from the Palin campaign: “Today's report . . . illustrates what we've known all along: this was a partisan led inquiry run by Obama supporters”). That’s almost certainly correct; it’s hard to imagine an investigation of a candidate for national office in the final weeks of a campaign being free of political motives.

This is most certainly incorrect! The investigation had started in the spring, even before Monegan's firing. It was authorized by a unanimous committee vote (majority Republican), as was the vote to release the findings. Palin initially promised full cooperation and encouraged others to do the same. No allegations of partisanship surfaced until after McCain picked Palin as his runningmate. A number of Republican legislators considered it an insult that other Republicans have effectively accused them of partisanship. The only party that acted in a partisan manner here was the McCain campaign. It would be absurd to legitimize their own sabotage of the investigation as evidence of partisanship.

In addition, there are good reasons why Republicans voted to release the report even though they could have easily blocked it. Although there is no question here of Palin's abuse of power, this abuse is fairly minor compared to, say, the abused in the Bush administration or in Illinois. So it would be possible to argue that Palin made a mistake in judgment and wanted to get past it. It was a single (albeit prolonged) incident that was brought on through an emotional issue--it should have been handled better and was a learning experience for the governor. Certainly, this alone should not have been a disqualifying incident.

However, Palin and the McCain campaign chose to lie, obfuscate and cover up. This means that this was not merely a mistake in judgment but rather an indication of a deeply flawed character. So by defending the indefensible they made the situation much worse. As is usually the case, cover up is a far worse indication of corruption than admission of guilt.
10.13.2008 2:54am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
burgess:

Going through channels in 2005 is still going through channels, nicht wahr?


Earlier you said this:

the governor when through the proper channels


In 2005, she wasn't the governor. In 2005, she filed a formal complaint and went through proper channels. Later, she did something quite different. So your claim that "the governor when through the proper channels" is false.

As no action was taken then, she used her executive power to take further action


Why are you saying "no action was taken then?" Do you really not know that Wooten was suspended? He was. And Palin knew this, although she has falsely claimed that she didn't know.

And if "she used her executive power to take further action," why did she tell us she didn't? She said this: "no pressure was ever put on anybody to fire anybody." How is that something other than a brazen lie?

I've got absolutely no problem with that.


Do you really have "absolutely no problem" with a lie like that? If so, that's a helpful warning that I should trust nothing you say.
10.13.2008 3:09am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
saz:

Monegan told her that he should deal with Todd Palin on the matter, which is exactly what happened


What Monegan actually told her is this:

And I said, ma'am, I need you to keep an arm's length at this -- on this issue. And if you have further complaints on him, I can deal with Todd on it. And she goes, that's a better idea.


Notice the "if?" He's not saying 'have Todd call me.' He's saying 'if you really insist on pursuing this, which I don't recommend, at least try to distance yourself a bit, for your own protection.'

Where are his emails to her saying to back off?


It's in his testimony, and there's absolutely nothing coming out of the Palin camp to contradict this aspect of his testimony. And other witnesses also testified they were trying to tell Palin to back off, for her own protection.

her email which supposedly ”pressures” him


Her emails didn't "supposedly" pressure him. They pressured him. I proved this in very simple terms, here. If you disagree, you should explain why.

Monegan doesn’t get to choose whether he files a complaint or not. If he thinks it is unethical, he is compelled by law to report it.


Wrong. You're swallowing a bogus claim that Palin issued in her legal filings, instead of actually reading the law. The law doesn't say I'm required to blow the whistle on my boss, when I see her committing an ethics violation. The law only says that I have to disclose the matter to my boss if I'm in a situation where my own acts could be an ethics violation. Monegan was not in that situation. It was Palin who was in that situation.

That's why this section of the law is called "Declaration of Potential Violations By Public Employees." That doesn't mean that I'm obliged to blow the whistle on my boss because I think she's committing a violation. It means I have to declare to my boss if I'm in a situation where my own actions could be a potential violation.

Nice of you to impugn the integrity of the Personnel Board with your comment. Two of the three members were appointed by Murkowski, not Palin


True. And one of those two was a campaign contributor to Palin. Which means two of the three are fairly seen as biased toward Palin. And all three are subject to reappointment by her. And who did they hire to investigate her? A lawyer from the firm that handled the $15 million bond issue for her hockey complex. How nice and cozy.

Nice dodge.


The dodge is all yours. Please explain why Palin is pretending that no one knew what Monegan's trip was for. She carelessly released an email proving that Nizich knew.

I didn’t say the Legislative branch couldn’t investigate, I said they could not officially determine a violation.


You should do a better job of coordinating your talking points with Palin. She did indeed take the position that "the Legislative branch couldn’t investigate." She took this position after emphatically supporting that investigation. She did a 180.
10.13.2008 3:09am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
tj:

That sidesteps the problem of how do you get an honest investigation when all investigating parties have strong reasons to bias their results against the person being investigated.


Poor Sarah. The Rs are out to get her and the Ds are out to get her. And there are even two courts that recently ruled against her. I guess this proves that she didn't do anything wrong, and she's really just a fearless reformer.

The sidestepping is all yours. There is no evidence that the Branchflower report is not "honest." The facts speak for themselves. Meanwhile, there is a long trail of false statements by Palin. Including and especially this one: "no pressure was ever put on anybody to fire anybody."

You defended the investigators promise to generate an Ocotber surprise


Please stop making things up. There was no "promise." French didn't say it would happen. He said it could happen. Those words are materially different. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with him saying that. As Judge Michalski said:

It is expected that legislators will belong to some party and will support the positions of their party, often publicly. The legislature is, by its nature, a political branch. It would be assumed that, e.g., review of Wall Street's financiers might be founded on a strongly held and expressed belief that somebody did something wrong.


Secondly, this ("October surprise") was not said by "the investigators." There was one investigator: Branchflower. And he didn't make any statement like that for you to try to hang your hat on.

French's statement renders the results of the investigation highly suspect at best.


That's what you would like people to believe, but there's no basis for that claim. The facts documented by Branchflower speak for themselves.

I suspect that in most cases if anyone attached to a criminal / administrative investigation made such a prejudicial statement the investigation would be scrapped and started over with new investigators.


Example, please.
10.13.2008 3:10am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hayden:

The (esp. Todd) Palins may have pressured Monegan to fire Woolen


Really? How is that possible? Palin said this: "no pressure was ever put on anybody to fire anybody."
10.13.2008 3:10am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
charlie:

a state patrolman who committed multiple serious misdemenors and felonies, and whose own appeal included the finding that were he a civilian, he'd have been in jail


Wooten has been convicted of this many misdemeanors: zero. He's been convicted of this many felonies: zero. Therefore you should show your proof that he "committed multiple serious misdemenors and felonies." You might want to consider the possibility that he actually deserves a fair shake. Even though he's a 10-year Air Force vet, and a brave cop (link, link).

Also, Grimes letter said this:

It is nearly certain that a civilian investigated under similar circumstances would have received criminal sanctions.


I don't see the part about "jail." Can you show us where it's hidden?

Anyway, I'm not surprised that you're having trouble with basic facts. Your site is still packed with misinformation, even though I've pointed out a bunch of your errors (see here and here).
10.13.2008 3:10am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
aardvark:

The investigation had started in the spring, even before Monegan's firing.


I agree with your general analysis, but this statement is incorrect. It started on 7/28. Monegan was fired on 7/11. All these facts are clearly documented in the wiki article.
10.13.2008 3:10am
Careless:
Well, because Atma ran away when challenged, I'd like to ask for anyone else who has knowledge of a list of which bad cops Palin knew about and should have tried to have removed but didn't to include it here. The striking thing here is that, while it may or may not have been unethical, it was certainly for the best for the people of Alaska (unless the median police officer there drinks on duty, etc)
10.13.2008 3:11am
Careless:
damn, I'm sorry, I might just have interrupted Jukebox's record attempt!
10.13.2008 3:13am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Above I mentioned a statement by Judge Michalski. It should be noted that his ruling was upheld by the Alaska Supreme Court.
10.13.2008 3:16am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Almost missed this.

kevin:

drinking in a state police car


This many witnesses say they saw Wooten "drinking in a state police car:" zero.

Two highly partial witnesses say they saw him carry a beer into the car. They didn't say they saw him drinking in the car. Grimes wrote it that way, but her claim is not supported by what the witnesses said.

For some strange reason these two witnesses were silent about the incident until Molly filed for divorce. Then they magically recovered the memory of something that had happened almost a year earlier. Pay attention to how close these people are with Palin's father: "Adrian Lane was a student of Chuck Heath's in Idaho when he was a child and they have been close friends ever since."

This is probably why the original investigation ruled that this allegation was "Not Sustained." Grimes reversed that ruling.

Palin had made a large number of other alcohol-related allegations, all via hearsay. This many were substantiated: zero.
10.13.2008 3:23am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
careless:

unless the median police officer there drinks on duty


No one ever alleged that Wooten was drinking on duty:

Wooten was not on duty; he was wearing "civilian attire." And he "drove approximately one mile to his residence."[18] Because Wooten "was a member of the SERT [SWAT] team … he [was allowed to] use his State vehicle for personal use."[34]


These facts are really easy to find. When you make statements at odds with these readily-available facts, you end up having about as much credibility as Palin does.
10.13.2008 3:28am
gattsuru (mail) (www):
Wooten has been convicted of this many misdemeanors: zero. He's been convicted of this many felonies: zero. Therefore you should show your proof that he "committed multiple serious misdemenors and felonies." You might want to consider the possibility that he actually deserves a fair shake.


The other poster did not seem to claim Wooten was convicted, only that he committed those crimes and should have been convicted. As the man essentially confessed to the commission of several of these illegal acts, and was found by an internal police report to have committed the remainder, I think it's fair to use the word committed rather than allegedly.
10.13.2008 3:33am
Careless:
Jukebox: congratulations, you're the first person I've seen defending the child-tasering, on-duty drinking+driving cop with other offenses. I wonder, what wouldn't you defend?
10.13.2008 3:37am
Careless:
but really, you failed as badly as Atma. You cannot point to an Alaskan cop Palin knew about who should have been fired but wasn't about to be.
10.13.2008 3:38am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
gatt:

As the man essentially confessed to the commission of several of these illegal acts


When did two become "several?" He acknowledged the Taser incident and the moose incident. That's it.

was found by an internal police report to have committed the remainder


The original police report ruled that the beer allegation was "Not Sustained." And it ruled that the alleged death threat was not a crime. Grimes reversed the beer finding, and didn't mention the death threat at all.

So I hope someone will explain how this magically translates into "committed multiple serious misdemenors and felonies."
10.13.2008 3:43am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
careless:

I wonder, what wouldn't you defend?


I wouldn't defend someone like you, who keeps repeating a falsehood even after you've been shown that it's a falsehood.

on-duty drinking


He wasn't on duty.
10.13.2008 3:46am
~aardvark (mail):
I incorrectly stated that "investigation" started in the spring. More accurately, some questions were raised in the spring, but jukeboxgrad is correct about the July timeline.

Furthermore, consider the following report from Aug 13:


August 13, 2008, 9:53PM

In a press conference this afternoon, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) conceded that someone inside her administration pressured the state's Department of Public Safety to fire State Trooper Mike Wooten, Palin's former brother-in-law, who is now embroiled in a bitter custody battle with Palin's sister.

Palin's statement is the latest in what has come to be known around Alaska as "Wooten-gate." The scandal began on July 11, when Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan was fired from his post with little explanation, a move that quickly raised questions in Alaska.


So, before the McCain campaign came calling, Palin had no trouble admitting putting pressure on officials to fire Wooten. Nor did she object to cooperating with the investigation.

I am perfectly willing to entertain the possibility that Palin was a relatively honest if inept politician at that point and that she learned to lie and cover up her tracks from the McCain campaign. I am not sure how this view would benefit the Republican ticket. It only highlights the fact that the problem with the ticket is John McCain, not Sarah Palin. Under the circumstances, I do not see how an intellectually honest conservative could support this pair. One could hold his nose and vote for them, based on the same kind of paranoid "reasoning" as exhibited by Somin here a couple of days ago, but not support them. In fact, I am somewhat surprised that other VC blogger who switched to the McCain campaign from either Romney or Thompson earlier in the year have not publicly resigned from their "posts". Surely they don't want to be tainted by this disaster.
10.13.2008 5:03am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Nor did she object to cooperating with the investigation.


Indeed. She made a long series of emphatic statements expressing her support:

▪ On July 18, Palin said "we would never prohibit, or be less than enthusiastic about any kind of investigation."[129]

▪ On July 21, Palin said that said she welcomed an investigation. "I've said all along, hold me accountable," Palin told reporters.[130]

▪ On July 24, Palin said "I have absolutely nothing to hide … I'm happy to answer any questions between now and when they [the legislature] do conduct an investigation also. … I'm happy to comply, to cooperate. … No problem with an independent investigation."[131]

▪ On July 29, Palin's spokesperson said "the governor has said all along that she will fully cooperate with an investigation and her staff will cooperate as well."[132]

▪ On August 13, an official press release stated "Governor Palin has directed all of her staff to cooperate fully with Branchflower."[133]

▪ On August 29, Palin's attorney wrote to Branchflower: "Please know that we intend to cooperate with this investigation … I would like to review our calendars to schedule depositions of witnesses."[134]

▪ On August 30, the McCain campaign said "Governor Palin is an open book on this -- she did nothing wrong and has nothing to hide. … she has been happy to cooperate fully in the inquiry of this matter. … The legislature and Attorney General are both currently reviewing the circumstances of Walt Monegan’s departure … and the Governor is fully cooperating with those inquiries."[135]

▪ On August 30, the Washington Times reported that Palin knew Branchflower by reputation, and welcomed the investigation: "I know he's a prosecutor, probably a heavy duty prosecutor, and so that kind of puzzles us why we are going down that road when we are very, very open to answering any questions anybody has of me or administrators … But I think this process will bode well for the state of Alaska and our administration, having a review committee of those experts in public safety, in the trooper organization."[69]

▪ On September 4, the Anchorage Daily News noted that Palin had made repeated public statements that she would cooperate, and reported that Palin's attorney had said that hadn't changed.[136]

This much is clear: her promises are not to be taken seriously.

Surely they don't want to be tainted by this disaster.


I think some people have decided to go down with the ship.
10.13.2008 5:32am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Wow. I guess McCain has decided to deal with the report by telling transparent lies about what it actually said. Rick Davis said this:

there was absolutely no wrongdoing found in the report … the best they could come up with was: no violations of any kinds of laws or ethics rules.


And Palin said this:

I’m very very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing … any hint of any kind of unethical activity there. Very pleased to be cleared of any of that


I think what they've done is avoid reading the report. This means that later on they can say they just made a mistake, and they actually thought the report said what they said it said. Clever!
10.13.2008 5:34am
RJS (mail):
An Alaskan weighs in:

I left the Republican party because it is so corrupt here in Alaska.

Palin started cleaning house, mostly removing Republicans.
The claim of ethics violations came first from her Republican political rivals. Only time in my 29 years as an Alaskan I remember the Democrats and Republicans work together was to fight Palin.

Both parties have wanted her out of office since before she was elected. The so called right wing talk show host in Anchorage spent the election season campaigning against her, and has not let up.

The Obama supporters really came to the fore when she began receiving national attention. It didn't matter that it was before she was selected as running mate--it was big, big here for her to even be on the national stage before hand.
Of course, they hated her before that. She threatened their re-election chances. Other rubes are gathering support for runs against incumbents with Palin's example.

The timing of the report was originally to be the week before elections. That the report came out early wasn't due to the corrupt entrenched politicians being nice. No, it was because the report from the labor board, composed of people mostly picked from her enemies, and which was the legitimate report, came out early, and in her favor.

The troopers in the state have been known to not investigate a village safety officer accused of rape, until multiple women began turning up dead. Then he was investigated, fired, convicted. In the town I grew up in, the police were the most dangerous criminals you would meet--at least until a fellow officer finally turned them in to the FBI and the whole department was fired or forced into early retirement.

So, I am admittedly biased.

My biggest complaint with Palin over the issue, as an Alaskan, is that she DIDN'T fire Monegan over Wooten.

The trooper's union has undermined every replacement she has offered, which is funny, as they condone death threats, drunk driving, tasering, poaching, but not poor graces aka 'sexual harrasment' decades ago.

Post and jukeboxgrad have no idea what they are talking about as it relates to Alaska politics, corruption and police protection. It is entertaining to watch people hold themselves up as icons of thought and knowledge, and have such a small grasp of the facts up here, whether press, professors, wiki's or googlers, the background, and often the facts of the current situation, is sorely lacking.
One of the most important is that the state already has a permanent commission set up to investigate precisely this type of abuse of power, and it cleared Palin. This ad hoc legislative commission doesn't even rise to a show trial, no trial at all.

I am not a lawyer, merely one of these rural rubes with a MA from a small western university.
So, answer me this:
By the same ethics statute, why isn't the investigation a violation itself? It's sole aim is for personal benefit of the members of the ad hoc commission, using their official power.

Also, Monegan for many weeks stated emphatically that he was not reassigned because of Wooten. Many commenters talk about the 2 yrs before the tasering became an issue, hey, I think that the delay here is really an issue. Further, since Monegan's statements were to press and legislature over the incident, and that he has contradicted himself both to the press and the commission, shouldn't he be held accountable to perjury charges aka Libby for now saying the reassignment was over Wooten?

Lastly, if my employer has an issue with me, but chooses not to fire me over it, and I later do something worth firing over, the Alaska Labor Board Commission would never let me sue my employer over the former issue having been fired over the latter issue. So, as a matter of Alaskan law, which I am no expert in but have been fired and have some experience with the Labor Board, this shouldn't have ever been an issue outside of a witch hunt to take out the only one in state politics that is actually concerned with graft.

Sorry for ranting, but this is really petty.
10.13.2008 6:58am
Kevin P. (mail):

jukeboxgrad (mail):
This many witnesses say they saw Wooten "drinking in a state police car:" zero.

Two highly partial witnesses say they saw him carry a beer into the car. They didn't say they saw him drinking in the car.

Congratulations. You are now officially a fool. Yes, Wooten carried a beer into the car but didn't drink from it. He used it to wipe down the dusty console instead!

This is what the Democratic party has come to, where in a sheer state of rage against Sarah Palin, some of its members will say the dumbest things.
10.13.2008 11:10am
ConcedingPointsisAllowed:
jukeboxgrad- Um, stop. The argument isn't "Wooten is a great guy who didn't do these things", because making that argument allows your opponents to make the debate about drinking and driving/tasering children/etc. That's all irrelevant. This story isn't about Wooten and his fitness as a cop.

He was already investigated and punished. That closes the chapter on his wrongdoings.
10.13.2008 11:59am
~aardvark (mail):

That's all irrelevant. This story isn't about Wooten and his fitness as a cop.


Uhm... no. This is about Palin and her fitness being the governor--and, worse, vice presidential candidate.

What is irrelevant, however, are the accusation thrown at him by another private party in divorce proceedings. Whether the allegations are true and whether Wooten is a creep is not something a governor may argue. It is something the Palin family can argue in court or, perhaps, to a review board. Sarah Palin, as a private citizen, can accuse Wooten of anything she wants and demand his resignation from anyone she wants. Of course, no one has to listen to her, in her capacity as a private citizen.

But she acted not as a private citizen, but as a governor, in fact, sending her aides, in some instances, to make demands on her behalf. That is the very definition of an ethics violation, in particular, abuse of power.

As for the fiction that Palin was cleaning house and antagonizing Republicans for it, that is, to put it mildly, horse excrement. Palin was kissing up to Rep. Young and Senator Stevens up to the day of Stevens's indictment (Young and Stevens being arguably the two most corrupt members of Congress). She was not cleaning house, but rather plugging her own tentacles into the till. Inevitably, when that happens, someone else has to get out of the way.

The whole Wooten fiasco, culminating in this report, is a demonstration of the Palin team being better fit to run for a high-school class president than for governorship. It's a bunch of cliquish amateurs.

Thanks for the comic relief, RJS. Your fees will be paid by the campaign once this blows over, if there is anything left.
10.13.2008 12:40pm
Federal Dog:
Scores of consecutive posts designed to clog every thread (learn clarity and concision, jbg) do not change the fact that Monegan himself did not think that anything worthy of investigation had occurred until long after the fact, when in 2008, he sought to justify a wrongful discharge claim.

He then alleged that back in late 2006 and early 2007, various people associated with the governor's office had contacted him and pressured him to fire Wooten. At the time those contacts occured, he neither complained nor brought the matter forward for investigation: He himself clearly did not think that they were improper. Rather, he dredged those contacts up long after the fact, in 2008, when he needed some grounds on which to base a frivolous employment claim.
10.13.2008 1:11pm
Sagar (mail):
jukeboxgrad,

Yes, I don't have a problem with a governor or president or a mayor's spouse living and sharing the residence/office with him/her. When they interfere with the govt business then it is an issue. If not, I have to wonder if Hillary was ever in the Oval office, or used whitehouse phones ... (come to think of it, it would have been better if Hillary had spent half her time in Bill's office - surprise visits - that would have spared us the impeachment and all the crat that went with it). You keep talking about Todd's doing official business or such mumbo jumbo - what did he supposedly do that you are so concerned about?

As a citizen he can call anypone to complain about whatever was bugging him. The nit here is that he used governor's office (or phones). Do you believe that if he went to a pay phone and made the same damn call, it would be less effective? Think of all the spouses and children of our senators and other elected officials working as lobbyists before losing sleep over this.
10.13.2008 3:47pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
rjs:

The timing of the report was originally to be the week before elections.


The investigation began, and a completion date was set, a month before she became a candidate. So what on earth are you talking about?

it was because the report from the labor board, composed of people mostly picked from her enemies, and which was the legitimate report, came out early, and in her favor


You're doing an excellent job of creating lots of your own facts. It is false to claim that the Personnel Board report "came our early." It's not out. No completion date is set. By statute, it could take up to two years.

The Personnel Board is also not "composed of people mostly picked from her enemies." On the contrary:

The Personnel Board is a three-member panel appointed by the governor. Members serve a six-year term.[111] The three people on the current board were first appointed by Frank Murkowski (R), Palin's gubernatorial predecessor; Palin reappointed one member in 2008.[112] Another member donated $400 to Palin's 2006 campaign for governor.[113] As governor, Palin has the authority to remove members of the board, for cause.[114] The investigator hired by the Personnel Board is Tim Petumenos. In 2002, his firm handled the $15 million bond issue for Wasilla's hockey complex, a pet project of then-mayor Palin.[115]


In other words, there is reason to believe that at least two of the three people on that board are partial to Palin. Likewise for the lawyer they hired to investigate her.

The trooper's union has undermined every replacement she has offered


You mean like Kopp, the guy she hired even though she knew he had a history of sexual harassment? And then she lied and pretended she didn't know this, even though there's proof she did? But she hired him anyway, because he "was a rising star in Alaska's Christian conservative movement."

they condone death threats, drunk driving, tasering, poaching


There is no corroboration of any death threats.

There was no finding of "drunk driving." Wooten has been arrested for drunk driving this many times: zero. That puts him ahead of Bush, Cheney, and Todd Palin.

The claim of "poaching" is incredibly weak. The permit was in Molly's name. She was right there. Sarah Palin's father was perfectly happy to butcher the animal. They were accessories. And they said nothing about the incident for almost two years.

but not poor graces aka 'sexual harrasment' decades ago


Have you considered a career in fiction? You have quite an imagination. The sexual harassment occurred in 2005. That's not "decades ago." And this is what he did: "Kopp repeatedly asked her for hugs and a once kissed her cheek … When she objected to his behavior, he reprimanded her." It's nice to know that in your world, this is just "poor graces" and not sexual harassment.

the state already has a permanent commission set up to investigate precisely this type of abuse of power, and it cleared Palin


Every now and then you should consider taking a trip to Planet Earth. The Personnel Board investigation is not done, and no completion date has been announced.

Monegan for many weeks stated emphatically that he was not reassigned because of Wooten


More outrageous fiction. Monegan was fired on 7/11. On 7/18, he said he thought "his dismissal might have been related to his reluctance to fire Wooten."

It is entertaining to watch people hold themselves up as icons of thought and knowledge, and have such a small grasp of the facts up here, whether press, professors, wiki's or googlers, the background, and often the facts of the current situation, is sorely lacking.


Thanks for the laugh.
10.13.2008 4:36pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
kevin:

Yes, Wooten carried a beer into the car but didn't drink from it. He used it to wipe down the dusty console instead!


Some people actually have the quaint idea that facts matter. I realize you're not part of that group.

Having an open container in a car, and drinking from it, are not same thing. He was driving a mile to his house. He could have brought it into the car so he could finish it at home.
10.13.2008 4:39pm
microgirl:
but, juke, Palin reads everything that comes in front of her...

...whether or not she understands it is an entirely different topic of discussion...

Although, we now have a new name for Todd Palin: First Stalker.
10.13.2008 4:42pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
conceding:

making that argument allows your opponents to make the debate about drinking and driving/tasering children/etc. That's all irrelevant. This story isn't about Wooten and his fitness as a cop.

He was already investigated and punished. That closes the chapter on his wrongdoings.


I understand your general point, and I agree. However, the truth is never irrelevant. From the very beginning, and throughout the entire process, Palin has consistently falsified and exaggerated Wooten's misconduct. This is relevant for multiple reasons. One reason is that it tells us a lot about Palin.
10.13.2008 4:42pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
federal:

At the time those contacts occured, he neither complained nor brought the matter forward for investigation: He himself clearly did not think that they were improper.


It's clear that you're going to paste the same phony talking points over and over again, no matter how many times you're shown that they're phony.

Read the report. There's lots of evidence that Monegan and others knew that what Palin was doing was wrong, and they were trying to get her to stop. I already cited Monegan telling her this, on 2/13/07:

And I said, ma'am, I need you to keep an arm's length at this -- on this issue. And if you have further complaints on him, I can deal with Todd on it. And she goes, that's a better idea.


There's also testimony regarding multiple conversations with Todd, where he was told the case was closed and nothing further could be done. But Todd and other persisted in pressing the matter, with Monegan and others.

he dredged those contacts up long after the fact, in 2008


You are repeatedly suggesting that there was no pressure after "early 2007." That's a transparent falsehood. For example, you should read about the very humorous matter of Police Memorial Day. That was in 5/08.

Your willingness to incessantly repost the same transparent misinformation is quite stunning.
10.13.2008 4:58pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
sagar:

You keep talking about Todd's doing official business or such mumbo jumbo - what did he supposedly do that you are so concerned about?


There is testimony that he spent about half his time in the governor's office, conducting government business, attending cabinet meetings, and being copied on numerous government emails.

Will we really not hear a peep out of you if Michelle Obama attends cabinet meetings?
10.13.2008 5:02pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Gosh, how did I not notice this before. Anyone who needs proof that Palin was deeply, sincerely concerned about the threat posed by Wooten should read this:

Gary Wheeler received a commission with the Alaska State Troopers in 1981. He worked on Governor Murkowski's protection detail, and later on the security detail for Governor Palin. He met with Governor-elect Palin and Todd Palin during mid- November or early December 2006 to outline his duties and the functions of their security detail. The meeting lasted 15 or 20 minutes and occurred in their Anchorage campaign headquarters. Part of the reason for the meeting was to obtain from them any information on individuals or things that the security detail should be concerned about as far as threats or physical or health issues they needed to be apprised of.

When I asked Wheeler, "And did you specifically inquire of them whether they perceived any threats from any individual or were afraid of any individual?" Mr. Wheeler responded "I did. And I got a negative response, meaning that there - - they basically said no."


Emphasis added.
10.13.2008 5:29pm
Fury:
jukeboxgrad writes:

"Two highly partial witnesses say they saw him carry a beer into the car. They didn't say they saw him drinking in the car. Grimes wrote it that way, but her claim is not supported by what the witnesses said.

For some strange reason these two witnesses were silent about the incident until Molly filed for divorce. Then they magically recovered the memory of something that had happened almost a year earlier. Pay attention to how close these people are with Palin's father: "Adrian Lane was a student of Chuck Heath's in Idaho when he was a child and they have been close friends ever since."


You're leaving out facts, jukeboxgrad.

The explanation of why the Lanes did not mention the incident is explained in the 03/01/06 disciplinary letter from Grimes to Wooten. The letter states:

"The Lanes recounted this story only after being asked about the incident by Sgt. Wall. I [Grimes] was concerned about this incident and conducted a follow-up interview with the Lanes. They stated to me, that they liked you and had been friends of the Heath family for years and for that reason, they did not report it to anyone."

So the Lanes did not "magically recover[ed] their memory". That phrase implies that the Lanes were asked about this incident and failed to mention it. The letter is clear - the Lanes mention the incident only after being asked about the incident by Sgt. Wall.
10.13.2008 5:42pm
Federal Dog:
Monegan's actions speak for themselves: In 2006 and 2007, when he was repeatedly contacted, he himself did not believe that anything required investigation. He would have sought inquiry at that time had he believed the contacts were improper, and he did not. He only mentioned those contacts long after the fact to justify a flimsy legal complaint that got no traction. Election outrage almost two years later by a DailyKos poster possessed by Palin Derangement Syndrome does not change Monegan's own contemporaneous evaluation of the contacts.
10.13.2008 6:44pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
The Lanes recounted this story only after being asked about the incident by Sgt. Wall.

Then how did Sgt. Wall learn of the incident? Considering that the Lanes were the only witnesses?

The answer is that they included it in the case against Wooten, when their good friends, the Heaths, asked everyone they knew if they had any dirt that might stick to Wooten and get him fired.
10.13.2008 6:52pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
fury:

they did not report it to anyone … the Lanes mention the incident only after being asked about the incident by Sgt. Wall


Tony is correct.

You're being a bit naive. Does it occur to you to wonder why it is that Wall is asking them questions at all, given that "they did not report it to anyone?" You don't think Wall interviewed everyone in the town, right? The reason why Wall interviewed them is because Molly mentioned them to Sgt. Waldron, on 4/11/05. So how did Molly know about their story, if "they did not report it to anyone?" This little mystery isn't explained. But there's no escaping the fact that Adrian Lane has been friends with Heath since Lane was a kid. And there's no escaping the fact that Lane saw a supposedly serious incident and did not report it to the police, at the time. And only discussed it with the police after their friend Heath's daughter needed help with her divorce.

If Lane's primary loyalty was to Wooten, Lane would never have told anyone. He certainly wouldn't have talked to Wall. If Lane's primary loyalty was to the concepts of law and public safety, he would have promptly reported the incident to the police. But Lane's primary loyalty was to Heath. That's why Lane discussed the issue with police only after the divorce got going.

I think Wall understood that Lane's primary loyalty was to Heath. Therefore Wall took the whole story with a grain of salt, and dismissed it.
10.13.2008 9:20pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
federal, you're simply posting the same nonsense at regular intervals. Without bothering to include a shred of proof, and without making even a pretense of addressing the contrary proof that's been presented. Whoever is supervising you has very low standards.
10.13.2008 9:21pm
Federal Dog:
Any review of dates stated in the report itself confirms them. There is no "proof" that the dates stated in the report are inaccurate. There is no dispute in the report that the contacts began in late 2006, immediately after Palin was sworn in.
10.14.2008 8:44am
Fury:
jukeboxgrad writes:

If Lane's primary loyalty was to Wooten, Lane would never have told anyone. He certainly wouldn't have talked to Wall. If Lane's primary loyalty was to the concepts of law and public safety, he would have promptly reported the incident to the police. But Lane's primary loyalty was to Heath. That's why Lane discussed the issue with police only after the divorce got going.

Apparently, there was some sense of loyalty to Wooten, as they did not initially report the incident, and the reasons for doing so are noted. So, apparently, the Lane's primary loyalty was not to Heath. And although this is an interesting discussion, the fact remains that after Grimes interviewed the Lanes, she came to a different conclusion than Wall. Reasonable people can come to different conclusions.

So, we will agree to disagree.
10.14.2008 9:28am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
federal:

There is no dispute in the report that the contacts began in late 2006, immediately after Palin was sworn in.


Your claim about when the contacts began is not the main issue. Palin took office on 12/6/06. Todd's first meeting with Monegan was 1/4/07. So your claim in this regard is not off by too much (you say "late 2006," whereas the truth is early 2007). A much bigger problem is that you repeatedly suggest that the pressure only took place "in late 2006 and early 2007," and that Monegan "dredged those contacts up long after the fact." You have explicitly said "the only allegation of impropriety is about conduct in 2006 and 2007." These are brazen falsehoods, and you've been repeating them incessantly, even after you've been shown proof that they're brazen falsehoods.

Branchflower's report is here (pdf). Please turn to page 38:

The 2008 Police Memorial Day-photograph event

Shortly before the annual celebration of Police Memorial Day on May 15, 2008, Commissioner Monegan had dropped off a color photograph at Governor Palin's Anchorage office with a request that she sign and present it at the ceremony. The photograph was of an Alaska State Trooper who was dressed in a formal uniform, saluting. He was standing in front of the police memorial located in front of the crime lab at AST headquarters in Anchorage, partially obscured by a flagpole. The picture to be signed by the Governor was to be used as a poster to be displayed in various Trooper Detachments around the state.

Shortly after he returned to his office from dropping off the photograph, he received a call from Kris Perry, Governor Palin's Director of her Anchorage office who asked [according to Walt Monegan's testimony] "Why did you send a poster over here that has a picture of Mike Wooten on it?" Until that moment, Commissioner Monegan never realized it was indeed a photograph of Trooper Wooten. Governor Palin cancelled her appearance and sent Lieutenant Governor Parnell in her place.


Monegan was fired on 7/11/08. On 7/18, he made a statement expressing his concern that he may have been fired on account of the Wooten matter. From 5/15/08 to 7/18/08 is a period of 65 days. The concern Monegan expressed on 7/18 was not "long after the fact." It was, at most, 65 days after the fact.

And your false statements about when the pressure ended are aside from your other false statements, claiming that Monegan never complained earlier. I've already shown you evidence that he did.

I find it hard to believe that you expect to be taken seriously, since your falsehoods are so transparent.
10.14.2008 9:32am
David Schwartz (mail):
jukeboxgrad: You still maintain that Governor Palin broke the ethics law, right? What was the "official action" that you claim violated the law?
10.14.2008 9:50am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
fury:

Apparently, there was some sense of loyalty to Wooten, as they did not initially report the incident, and the reasons for doing so are noted. So, apparently, the Lane's primary loyalty was not to Heath.


The problem is not particularly that we disagree. The problem is that your logic is internally inconsistent, and I think you don't realize it.

You're not just claiming that there was some sense of loyalty to Wooten. That's what you say in your first sentence, but in your second sentence you go much further, because you claim, by implication, that Lane's primary loyalty was to Wooten. There's a significant different between some sense of loyalty and primary loyalty.

If "Lane's primary loyalty was not to Heath," then where was Lane's primary loyalty? Wooten, obviously. But if Lane's primary loyalty was to Wooten, Lane would have kept his mouth shut. The same motivation that kept Lane quiet in 2004 would have kept him quiet in 2005.

There's no getting around the fact that Lane was silent in 2004, and not silent in 2005. It's hard to explain this, unless we conclude that his primary loyalty was to Heath. And this is consistent with the fact that Lane knew Heath since Lane was a kid.

Also, you're claiming that Lane's silence in 2004 is an indication that "there was some sense of loyalty to Wooten." I think it's more parsimonious to assume that Lane's silence in 2004 was out of loyalty to Heath, not Wooten. There was no divorce going on in 2004. If Lane had made a report to police in 2004, that would have been an embarrassment to Heath.

Incidentally, there are other indications that Heath was enlisting his friends to badmouth Wooten. Read about a man named Page.

The bottom line about the beer incident is that even if you take Lane's words at face value, the incident is not terribly egregious. It's certainly very different from the claims that are sometimes made, e.g. the claim that Wooten was intoxicated on duty. Lane did not allege that Wooten was intoxicated, and Wooten was not on duty. And aside from that, there is good reason to take Lane's words with a grain of salt. There's a strong possibility that what actually happened is either somewhat different or very different than what he claimed.
10.14.2008 10:06am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
schwartz:

You still maintain that Governor Palin broke the ethics law, right?


That's what Branchflower concluded, and the facts support his conclusion, and I haven't seen any evidence that his facts are wrong.

What was the "official action" that you claim violated the law?


The pressure that was placed on Monegan to fire Wooten was a form of official action. If you work for me, and I repeatedly tell you, both directly and via surrogates, that a certain person on your staff is a bastard who doesn't deserve to have a job, what I'm doing is a form of official action.

Likewise, if I repeatedly told you about someone I knew who I thought would make a great addition to your staff, that would be a form of official action. Or if I told you I was very concerned about Priority A, and very unconcerned about Priority B. These are all examples of me using the power of my office to influence your behavior as a manager.
10.14.2008 10:19am
Federal Dog:
The report, and Monegan's own reaction to the contacts (which began in 2006, immediately after Palin was sworn into office), speak for themselves. Monegan did not think they were improper and required investigation in 2006 or early 2007, when those contacts occurred. He only alleged impropriety once he needed grounds on which to pursue a frivolous employment claim much later on in 2008.

We fully understand that you loathe Palin, but the dates in the report and Monegan's own conduct at that time speak for themselves.
10.14.2008 10:33am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
federal:

[blah blah blah]


You're practically repeating yourself verbatim, without making even a pretense of showing proof to support your claims, and without making even a pretense of addressing the contrary proof that I've presented.

Do you realize you could spare lots of innocent electrons by simply pasting in a link to your prior post, instead of repeating the same statements over and over again, almost verbatim, like an automaton?
10.14.2008 11:42am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
federal, one more thing. Even it is correct that Monegan should have done more, and sooner, to blow the whistle on Palin, that does nothing to excuse Palin's wrongdoing, which is documented and incontrovertible. You're simply trying to invent a distraction.

It was not Monegan's job to prevent Palin from hanging herself. But he did indeed try to warn her that she was in the process of doing so.
10.14.2008 11:49am
David Schwartz (mail):

The pressure that was placed on Monegan to fire Wooten was a form of official action. If you work for me, and I repeatedly tell you, both directly and via surrogates, that a certain person on your staff is a bastard who doesn't deserve to have a job, what I'm doing is a form of official action.

Likewise, if I repeatedly told you about someone I knew who I thought would make a great addition to your staff, that would be a form of official action. Or if I told you I was very concerned about Priority A, and very unconcerned about Priority B. These are all examples of me using the power of my office to influence your behavior as a manager.

It seems to me that vocal implied pressure is the diametric opposite of official action. For example, from one ethics law: "'Official action' means any decision on, or proposal, consideration, enactment, defeat, or making of any rule, regulation, rate-making proceeding or policy action or non-action by a governmental body or any other policy matter which is within the official jurisdiction of the governmental body."

I'm not defending the Palins' actions morally or ethically. I am, however, defending them legally.
10.14.2008 11:52am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
schwartz:

It seems to me that vocal implied pressure is the diametric opposite of official action. For example, from one ethics law


We don't need to resort to looking at some other ethics law to find a definition of "official action." The Alaska law already gives us the relevant definition:

"official action" means advice, participation, or assistance, including, for example, a recommendation, decision, approval, disapproval, vote, or other similar action, including inaction, by a public officer


Would you claim that Palin pressuring Monegan to fire Wooten falls outside that definition? Telling Monegan that Wooten is a rotten bastard who shouldn't be a trooper isn't a form of "advice?" It's not a kind of "recommendation?" It's not an expression of "disapproval?"
10.14.2008 12:10pm
Federal Dog:
"Do you realize you could spare lots of innocent electrons by simply pasting in a link to your prior post, instead of repeating the same statements over and over again, almost verbatim, like an automaton?"


That pretty much maxes out the irony meter for this thread. The dates in the report and Monegan's very long belated (and, by then, completely self-serving) allegation of impropriety, again, speak for themselves.
10.14.2008 1:38pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
The dates in the report


You mean dates like 5/15/08, when Palin clearly communicated her displeasure about Wooten? You said "the only allegation of impropriety is about conduct in 2006 and 2007." That statement is false. Why did you say it, and when are you going to take responsibility for doing so?
10.14.2008 1:56pm
David Schwartz (mail):
"[O]fficial action" means advice, participation, or assistance, including, for example, a recommendation, decision, approval, disapproval, vote, or other similar action, including inaction, by a public officer.
Would you claim that Palin pressuring Monegan to fire Wooten falls outside that definition? Telling Monegan that Wooten is a rotten bastard who shouldn't be a trooper isn't a form of "advice?" It's not a kind of "recommendation?" It's not an expression of "disapproval?"
This would suggest that any decision made by a public officer is an official action. So if Palin chose to have vanilla ice cream, just because she found the taste more appealing, that was an official action for personal gain.

The law simply cannot mean what it says. So how do we figure out what it means?

We have to construe "official action" so that it is limited to actions that are in fact official. We have to construe "personal gain" so that it is limited to actual gains that are personal.

Otherwise, satisfaction of a job well done is an ethics violation. Otherwise, choosing whether to leave the windows to your office open or closed is an official action.

Palin points out that all previous cases involved financial benefit. There is a serious question of statutory construction about what kinds of "personal benefits" are sufficient to trigger an ethics violation. We have to agree that things like satisfaction in a job well done, hope for promotion, and many other things that fall within the plain words of the statute don't count.

I think this is a ridiculously weak argument that smacks of partisan sniping.
10.14.2008 5:59pm
TJIT (mail):
Juke,

You said,
Poor Sarah. The Rs are out to get her and the Ds are out to get her.
Your snark is entertaining but you are still sidestepping the issue of how you handle a case where all of the investigators have political motivations to rule a certain way.

If a jury pool was this biased I suspect there would be a request for a change of venue.

You also said
Please stop making things up. There was no "promise." French didn't say it would happen. He said it could happen.
That is a very fine parsing on your part. However, the statement emphasizes the enormous political opening this case presented to the politicians on the committee who wanted to damage Palin.

You may not want to acknowledge but politically charged investigations have an enormous potential to get things wrong.

The stench of prosecutorial abuse
10.14.2008 10:05pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
schwartz:

This would suggest that any decision made by a public officer is an official action.


I think a little common sense is called for. Yes, the statute says a "decision … by a public officer" is considered official action. The writer probably didn't think he needed to say a 'decision … by a public officer in their capacity as a public officer.' But that's the only common-sense interpretation of what was actually written.

If you're claiming that the wording of the statute can be improved, because it isn't sufficiently resistant to assaults by people who are determined to jettison common sense, then I won't disagree. That criticism could probably be applied to every statute ever written.

So if Palin chose to have vanilla ice cream, just because she found the taste more appealing, that was an official action for personal gain.


If Palin chose to buy herself some vanilla ice cream while she was on a family trip to Disneyland, she is not acting in her capacity as a public officer. So there's no problem. But if she sends a very strong hint to the state cafeteria manager that vanilla is her favorite flavor, and therefore an extra effort must be made to always stock the very best vanilla, then this is an act she is performing in her capacity as a public officer. Because her office places her in a position of authority over that person. So this is an ethics violation. A small one, obviously, but nevertheless a violation.

We have to construe "official action" so that it is limited to actions that are in fact official.


Exactly. And here's one way we know that an action is "official:" if the person I'm talking to and influencing is someone who is subject to my official authority (e.g., I have the power to enhance or damage their career), then what I am doing should probably be considered "official."

Otherwise, satisfaction of a job well done is an ethics violation.


I already addressed that. It should be obvious that it's fine to gain "satisfaction of a job well done" as long as that proceeds as a result of acting in the public interest. On the other hand, we know there's a problem when gaining personal benefit is a substitute for, or takes precedence over, acting in the public interest.

Otherwise, choosing whether to leave the windows to your office open or closed is an official action.


If I tell my facilities manager that I want all government windows open all winter, that is definitely "an official action." And if it turns out that I have an ownership interest in the company that provides fuel oil and heating services to the state, then I have also committed an ethics violation. Unless I can show that there is some real benefit to the state from having all those windows open, and paying the extra fuel cost.

Palin points out that all previous cases involved financial benefit.


Palin makes an incredibly lame argument. She brazenly pretends that the statute only mentions "financial benefit," when in fact it clearly reads "personal or financial interest." All those words matter, not just the last two.

There is a serious question of statutory construction about what kinds of "personal benefits" are sufficient to trigger an ethics violation.


You're making a mighty effort to muddy the waters. This requires you to not only toss common sense aside, but also pay no attention to the details of this case. Palin is a serial fabricator. She painted Wooten as a public hazard even though he's not. She claims to be afraid of him even though there is evidence that this fear is not genuine.

The question is whether Palin took action against Wooten primarily for the sake of the public (or out of legitimate concern for her own safety), or primarily to advance the interests of Molly McCann regarding a custody battle. It's only possible to argue the former by making lots of false statements about Wooten's behavior. And that's why Palin and her supporters routinely make lots of false statements about Wooten's behavior. There are a bunch of examples in this thread. Lots of other examples are documented in the wiki article.
10.15.2008 1:03am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
tj:

you are still sidestepping the issue of how you handle a case where all of the investigators have political motivations to rule a certain way


By hiring an independent investigator who has a long, respected track record. Branchflower is a Republican, by the way. And then you require the investigator to show his proof. Branchflower did so. The facts speak for themselves.

And claiming that Branchflower had "political motivations to rule a certain way" is an unsubstantiated slur.

Here's some information about Branchflower (pdf):

STEPHEN BRANCHFLOWER put himself on the record. He said he had arrived in Anchorage in 1965; he attended the Alaska Methodist University where he graduated in 1968; he attended the University of Arizona Law School and graduated in 1973. He went to work for the Anchorage DA’s office September in 1974 and departed in 1998. His work consisted primarily of reviewing cases, felony intake and working major crimes trials. In 1998 he was appointed by Bruce Botehlo to be the director of the Alaska Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. He retired in 2002 and was appointed by the Legislature that year to head up the new office of the Office of Victims Rights. He stayed there until 2005 and retired in 2005 and he presently resides in the state of South Carolina. In summary he said he has been practicing for 31 years and had resided in Anchorage for 40 years.


One of the reasons Branchflower was hired is that he had an adversarial relationship with Monegan. In 2002 he issued a report (pdf) that was highly critical of Monegan:

Most of his contact with Walter Monegan has been in an adversarial context during the time he was working at the Office of Victim’s Rights. It had to do with his investigation of APD following the Patty Godfrey 911 incident. The report that he issued at that time was pretty critical of the Anchorage Police Department.


Alaska is a small place. Everyone knows Branchflower. Palin said repeatedly that she and her people would cooperate with him. No one (including Palin) had anything bad to say about him until quite recently. Interesting how that works.

By the way, you are still sidestepping the corresponding question: how is anyone ever supposed to be able to investigate anyone, if we validate the Palin defense ('both Rs and Ds are out to get me')?

politically charged investigations have an enormous potential to get things wrong


Then you should read the report and indicate what's "wrong" about it. There is a stunning absence of anyone doing so. Instead, Palin simply tells blatant lies about the conclusion of the report.
10.15.2008 1:03am
David Schwartz (mail):
Exactly. And here's one way we know that an action is "official:" if the person I'm talking to and influencing is someone who is subject to my official authority (e.g., I have the power to enhance or damage their career), then what I am doing should probably be considered "official."
That may be what you think the law says, but it's not what the law says. And it wouldn't make sense anyway. If I go to lunch with the police chief, and I say to him "let's take your car", that's an official action in your view. Since it saves me the gas required to drive to lunch, it's an ethics violation by this definition.

So not only is that not what the law says, but if the law did say that, it would be an absurd law.

If I tell my facilities manager that I want all government windows open all winter, that is definitely "an official action." And if it turns out that I have an ownership interest in the company that provides fuel oil and heating services to the state, then I have also committed an ethics violation. Unless I can show that there is some real benefit to the state from having all those windows open, and paying the extra fuel cost.


The problem is that without your last sentence, your argument makes no sense. And there is no basis in the law for the last sentence.

You're making a mighty effort to muddy the waters. This requires you to not only toss common sense aside, but also pay no attention to the details of this case. Palin is a serial fabricator. She painted Wooten as a public hazard even though he's not. She claims to be afraid of him even though there is evidence that this fear is not genuine.


Drop your claim that she violated the ethics law and I'll stop refuting it. Stick by the claim, and I'll keep refuting it. I agree with all of those things, but none of them are official actions and, at least arguably, none of them created the kind of personal benefit this law prohibits.


The question is whether Palin took action against Wooten primarily for the sake of the public (or out of legitimate concern for her own safety), or primarily to advance the interests of Molly McCann regarding a custody battle. It's only possible to argue the former by making lots of false statements about Wooten's behavior. And that's why Palin and her supporters routinely make lots of false statements about Wooten's behavior. There are a bunch of examples in this thread. Lots of other examples are documented in the wiki article.


That's not the only question if you're going to insist she violated this law. There are two other questions -- were her actions official actions, and did she obtain the type of personal benefit the law prohibits?

As I said, if you ditch the pathetically weak argument that these were the kinds of official actions the law prohibits and that these are the kinds of personal benefits the law is talking about, you'll be left with a strong argument that Palin is petty and likely to abuse her power. But with it, your argument turns to petty partisan sniping about how to construct a badly-worded law so it extends to cover cases unlike any it has ever covered before.
10.15.2008 4:52pm
David Schwartz (mail):
Exactly. And here's one way we know that an action is "official:" if the person I'm talking to and influencing is someone who is subject to my official authority (e.g., I have the power to enhance or damage their career), then what I am doing should probably be considered "official."
That may be what you think the law says, but it's not what the law says. And it wouldn't make sense anyway. If I go to lunch with the police chief, and I say to him "let's take your car", that's an official action in your view. Since it saves me the gas required to drive to lunch, it's an ethics violation by this definition.

So not only is that not what the law says, but if the law did say that, it would be an absurd law.

If I tell my facilities manager that I want all government windows open all winter, that is definitely "an official action." And if it turns out that I have an ownership interest in the company that provides fuel oil and heating services to the state, then I have also committed an ethics violation. Unless I can show that there is some real benefit to the state from having all those windows open, and paying the extra fuel cost.


The problem is that without your last sentence, your argument makes no sense. And there is no basis in the law for the last sentence.

You're making a mighty effort to muddy the waters. This requires you to not only toss common sense aside, but also pay no attention to the details of this case. Palin is a serial fabricator. She painted Wooten as a public hazard even though he's not. She claims to be afraid of him even though there is evidence that this fear is not genuine.


Drop your claim that she violated the ethics law and I'll stop refuting it. Stick by the claim, and I'll keep refuting it. I agree with all of those things, but none of them are official actions and, at least arguably, none of them created the kind of personal benefit this law prohibits.


The question is whether Palin took action against Wooten primarily for the sake of the public (or out of legitimate concern for her own safety), or primarily to advance the interests of Molly McCann regarding a custody battle. It's only possible to argue the former by making lots of false statements about Wooten's behavior. And that's why Palin and her supporters routinely make lots of false statements about Wooten's behavior. There are a bunch of examples in this thread. Lots of other examples are documented in the wiki article.


That's not the only question if you're going to insist she violated this law. There are two other questions -- were her actions official actions, and did she obtain the type of personal benefit the law prohibits?

As I said, if you ditch the pathetically weak argument that these were the kinds of official actions the law prohibits and that these are the kinds of personal benefits the law is talking about, you'll be left with a strong argument that Palin is petty and likely to abuse her power. But with it, your argument turns to petty partisan sniping about how to construct a badly-worded law so it extends to cover cases unlike any it has ever covered before.
10.15.2008 4:52pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
schwartz:

If I go to lunch with the police chief, and I say to him "let's take your car", that's an official action in your view. Since it saves me the gas required to drive to lunch, it's an ethics violation by this definition.


It's hard to learn anything helpful from that example, because chances are both me and him have the ability to get reimbursed for that personal expense. So it's a wash.

none of them are official actions


You're making claims without providing any facts or arguments to support the claims. The law defines "official action," as, among other things, "advice" or "disapproval." If I tell you that a member of your staff is a rotten bastard who shouldn't have a job, how is that not "advice" or "disapproval?"

I've already asked you this question, and you've simply ducked it.

none of them created the kind of personal benefit this law prohibits


The law defines "personal interest" as follows:

The term "personal interest" "means an interest held or involvement by a public officer, or the officer's immediate family member or parent, including membership, in any organization, whether fraternal, nonprofit, for profit, charitable, or political, from which, or as a result of which, a person or organization receives a benefit"


If I can force Wooten out of his job, that creates an advantage for my sister in her custody battle against him. How is that not a kind of "personal interest?"

the pathetically weak argument that these were the kinds of official actions the law prohibits and that these are the kinds of personal benefits the law is talking about


You've adopted your own mysterious definition for "official actions" and "personal benefits." And you haven't even told us what those definitions are. But you still expect us to prefer those definitions to the definitions provided by the statute. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
10.16.2008 3:09am
David Schwartz (mail):
I give up, jukeboxgrad. Every time I argue against one extreme, you pick the other. If I argue against the middle, you go to one extreme. I'm not sure how I can argue against all three of your contradictory positions at once.

If "personal interest" and "official action" really mean the way the law defines them, the law is both insane and unconstitutional. It would make your choice of when to go to the bathroom an official action for personal benefit.

You've adopted your own mysterious definition for "official actions" and "personal benefits." And you haven't even told us what those definitions are. But you still expect us to prefer those definitions to the definitions provided by the statute. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense.


If we stick to the law, advising one of your employees to try the cheesecake is an official action. If you do it in the hopes she'll be your friend, it's for personal gain. You already made it clear you don't mean that, so why are you back to saying we have to interpret those terms the way the law defines them?

We have to interpret them sensibly. I've given a sensible set of definitions, you haven't. Again, here are my sensible definitions:

An "official action" is an action that an official makes in their official capacity. It can include an inaction if an official action would have taken place under similar circumstances.

A "personal benefit" is a concrete (non-psychic) benefit that is personal. It does not include hopes for promotion, salary, satisfaction of a job well done, or even other kinds of personal satisfaction. Jobs should be personally satisfying.

As for why you should prefer them over those in the statute, it's because if you don't, everything is an ethics violation. You can stand by everything being an ethics violation, but then the Palins did the same thing every judge does when he calls a recess because he's tired. That would trivialize their serious misconduct, and I can't understand why you would want to do that.

The law is very poorly worded, even you have admitted that. What constitutes a "personal benefit" has even required you to add all kinds of "common sense" exclusions. Well, why isn't psychic satisfaction also a common sense exclusion? You should be satisfied when you do your job.
10.16.2008 10:33am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
schwartz:

Every time I argue against one extreme, you pick the other. If I argue against the middle, you go to one extreme. I'm not sure how I can argue against all three of your contradictory positions at once.


You're being incoherent. I have no idea what you're talking about. I haven't taken any "contradictory positions."

If "personal interest" and "official action" really mean the way the law defines them, the law is both insane and unconstitutional.


I know you're saying that. You just haven't proven it. Also, there is no exemption that says you're allowed to break a law simply because you have the opinion that the law is "insane." Likewise for "unconstitutional." If a court rules that a law is "unconstitutional," then you can safely ignore that law. Trouble is, that hasn't happened.

Also, it's important to notice that of all the lame defenses that have been presented by Palin's very illustrious legal team, the one thing they haven't tried is claiming that the law is "insane and unconstitutional." I guess their only problem is that you're not on the team.

If you do it in the hopes she'll be your friend, it's for personal gain


The idea that I'm hoping she'll like the cheesecake and be my friend is too vague and immaterial to fit any common-sense understanding of the term "personal interest." On the other hand, if I'm hoping that she'll end up buying lots of cheesecake from my husband's cheesecake factory, then my act is an ethics violation. It's a small one, unless I do this a lot with lots of employees.

An "official action" is an action that an official makes in their official capacity.


Fine. That definition is consistent with the definition in the law. If I tell you that your staff member is unqualified and probably should not have a job in our organization, how is that not something I've done in my "official capacity?" You work for me, and I'm trying to influence your official behavior. And when you hear my remark, you are definitely going to take into account the fact that I have authority over you. These are all indications that my remark is an "official action."

A "personal benefit" is a concrete (non-psychic) benefit that is personal.


If my sister wins the custody battle, as a result of the words I said to you, how is that not a "concrete" benefit?
10.16.2008 1:48pm
David Schwartz (mail):
If my sister wins the custody battle, as a result of the words I said to you, how is that not a "concrete" benefit?
And if I get a promotion and therefore a pay raise, how is that not a "concrete" benefit?
10.16.2008 10:09pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
if I get a promotion and therefore a pay raise, how is that not a "concrete" benefit?


Even if you argue that the law is so poorly written that it would apply in your ridiculous example, no prosecutor, investigator, legislature or public would do something as ridiculous as attempting to apply it that way.

Claiming that the law allows for a ridiculous prosecution does not make the law invalid. Maybe there's some other parallel Earth where the law led to such a ridiculous prosecution, and this led to the law being repealed or improved. Trouble is, we live on this Earth, not that other parallel Earth.

It's completely plausible that lawmakers intentionally wrote the law to be very broad and powerful. So broad that it would allow the kind of ridiculous prosecution you contemplate. A lawmaker would understand that this would create a strong deterrent effect (among officials not as self-destructive and short-sighted as Palin), and would also understand that truly ridiculous prosecutions would most likely never happen.

You're basically saying 'the law couldn't possibly mean what it says.' Too bad. It says what it says. And one of many things you haven't done is explain why even Palin is not offering this defense you've invented. Even though she's going to all sorts of other extreme measures, like literally lying about the conclusion of the report.
10.17.2008 10:39am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
if I get a promotion and therefore a pay raise, how is that not a "concrete" benefit?


One more thing. Do you really not realize that your argument is perfectly circular? The idea of a 'concrete benefit' didn't come from the definitions in the law, and it didn't come from me. It came from your definition of what you claim the law should say. You introduced it by saying "here are my sensible definitions."

Let's review. You've been claiming the law is "insane and unconstitutional," because the definitions in the law are so broad that they would outlaw working to "get a promotion and therefore a pay raise." So I challenged you to write a better definition. So you offered a definition, which included the idea of a "concrete" benefit. Then I pointed out that by your own definition, Palin's behavior was seeking a "concrete" benefit, because helping her sister win a custody battle is "concrete." Instead of responding directly to that issue, you're now suggesting that a definition which talks about a "concrete" benefit must be "insane and unconstitutional," because "if I get a promotion and therefore a pay raise, how is that not a 'concrete' benefit." Huh? You're criticizing that definition, as if you don't remember that it's the definition that was provided by you.

You're doing a nice job of proving that it's hard to write a good ethics law. And that even though you like criticizing the law as it is, your best attempt to improve it resulted in a definition that is just as flawed as the existing definition.

The bottom line is that what she did is an ethics violation in the world of common sense, and in the world of the existing law, and in the world of any reasonable ethics law. That's why she's trying to defend herself by lying about the underlying facts (e.g., greatly exaggerating Wooten's misconduct).
10.17.2008 1:39pm
David Schwartz (mail):
Even if you argue that the law is so poorly written that it would apply in your ridiculous example, no prosecutor, investigator, legislature or public would do something as ridiculous as attempting to apply it that way.


In other words, the law cannot possibly mean what it says.

Do you think the law applies in my ridiculous example or not? It not, why not? Is it because that's not an "official action"? What in the law makes it not? Is it because that's not the right kind of "personal benefit"? If not, why not?

You're basically saying 'the law couldn't possibly mean what it says.' Too bad. It says what it says. And one of many things you haven't done is explain why even Palin is not offering this defense you've invented. Even though she's going to all sorts of other extreme measures, like literally lying about the conclusion of the report.


She has raised precisely this argument by pointing out that prior cases have all involved financial gain. That is a perfectly reasonable place to draw the line between ethics violations and perfectly ethical benefits.
10.17.2008 5:01pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
the law cannot possibly mean what it says


If "the law cannot possibly mean what it says," then the allegedly "sensible" definition you offered also "cannot possibly mean what it says," since your circular argument demonstrated very nicely that your definition is functionally indistinguishable from the definition in the law.

By the way, we are all still obliged to obey the law, as written, even if your opinion is that "the law cannot possibly mean what it says."

She has raised precisely this argument by pointing out that prior cases have all involved financial gain.


You're claiming that Palin is using the same defense that you're suggesting. That's nonsense. You're suggesting that "the law cannot possibly mean what it says." That's not what Palin is saying. Palin is simply pretending that the law says something different from what it actually says.

The law says this:

The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.


The heart of the defense that Palin presented is this (pdf):

The Ethics Act addresses financial conflicts of interest.


In other words, she's brazenly pretending that the first two words I highlighted ("personal or") simply aren't in there.

She has raised precisely this argument by pointing out that prior cases have all involved financial gain. That is a perfectly reasonable place to draw the line between ethics violations and perfectly ethical benefits.


Why are you changing your tune? The definition you offered before was this:

A "personal benefit" is a concrete (non-psychic) benefit that is personal.


You seem to be having a lot of trouble making up your mind. Before you said the law should prohibit a "concrete" benefit. Now that you've realized that this is functionally indistinguishable from the current law, you're saying the law should prohibit "financial gain."

You are suggesting that the words "personal or" shouldn't be in the law. You're suggesting that it's perfectly fine for me to use the power of my office to gain personal benefits, as long as the benefit does not involve "financial gain." Really? So it's ethical for me to use the power of my office to help my sister win her custody battle? Is it ethical for me to use the power of my office to help my kid get into a certain college? Is it ethical for me to use the power of my office to save my kid from the draft? Is it ethical for me to use the power of my office to get the state to plant lots of extra trees on my street, because I want my street to look prettier than the other streets?

Surely you're joking, right?

Aside from that, if the law was as you suggested, and prohibited seeking financial gain, then haven't I violated the law if I try to earn a bigger salary?
10.17.2008 6:22pm
David Schwartz (mail):
By the way, we are all still obliged to obey the law, as written, even if your opinion is that "the law cannot possibly mean what it says."
Except that's impossible. As written, satisfaction in a job well done is illegal. Are lawmakers in Alaska obliged not to be satisfied when they do their jobs well?

You're claiming that Palin is using the same defense that you're suggesting. That's nonsense. You're suggesting that "the law cannot possibly mean what it says." That's not what Palin is saying. Palin is simply pretending that the law says something different from what it actually says.


Because what it actually says is nosensical.

You are suggesting that the words "personal or" shouldn't be in the law. You're suggesting that it's perfectly fine for me to use the power of my office to gain personal benefits, as long as the benefit does not involve "financial gain." Really? So it's ethical for me to use the power of my office to help my sister win her custody battle? Is it ethical for me to use the power of my office to help my kid get into a certain college? Is it ethical for me to use the power of my office to save my kid from the draft? Is it ethical for me to use the power of my office to get the state to plant lots of extra trees on my street, because I want my street to look prettier than the other streets?


I'm not saying it's fine. I am, however, saying that if you want to make it illegal, you have to make a law that makes it illegal in such a way that it doesn't make being satisfied that you did your job properly illegal. This law fails to separate such actions from clearly ethical actions.

Aside from that, if the law was as you suggested, and prohibited seeking financial gain, then haven't I violated the law if I try to earn a bigger salary?


I agree. That wouldn't fix the law either. I'm not sure how to fix it.

But this law clearly can't separate common-sense ethical conduct from common-sense unethical conduct, and it makes a lot of ethical conduct illegal.

Arguing that Palin violated this law is no different from arguing she went to the bathroom. (And, in fact, her going to the bathroom violates this law.)
10.17.2008 11:30pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I agree. That wouldn't fix the law either. I'm not sure how to fix it.


It's about time that you admitted that even though you are quick to criticize the law, you have no idea how to write a better one.

her going to the bathroom violates this law


I'm sure there are no Alaskan officials who are worried about "going to the bathroom," on account of this law. When an official is prosecuted under this law for "going to the bathroom," then your pedantic considerations will become relevant. Until then, they're not.

What's relevant now is that Palin did something very different from "going to the bathroom," and there's no question that her behavior was unethical not just under this law, but also under any common-sense definition of "ethics."
10.18.2008 1:21pm