After days of silence Governor Palin speaks out about Monegan's firing.
Original article posted July 18, 2008
Governor Sarah Palin is strongly denying accusations she fired Former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan because he refused to fire Palin's former brother-in-law. The issues surround Palin's role in her sister's divorce from State Trooper Michael Wooten.
Thursday the State Troopers Union released documents showing that then about-to-be gubernatorial candidate Palin contacted Wooten's supervisors about his behavior, in some cases, using secondhand information and private investigators.
In a statement the governor calls the accusations outrageous. At the same time Governor Palin refers to the allegers as "critics," and says they are taking these allegations to "ridiculous extremes" in an effort she says could hurt chances to get a pipeline and get Alaskan's energy relief.
However sources close to the issue are painting a much different picture, telling CBS 11 News there was a feeling inside Monegan's office he was being pushed to fire Wooten.
Governor Palin responded to those accusations by saying, "absolutely not." Earlier in the day, when reporters pressed the issue, Palin denied firing Monegan because the former DPS commissioner would not fire her former brother-in-law, State Trooper Wooten, who contentiously divorced from Palin's younger sister back in 2005.
Palin said, "It was a recognition that he had some interests that could be put to good use in more exclusive area than running the whole show, the Department of Public Safety, but again him choosing not to move into that position, we're moving forward."
That was before the 2 p.m. news conference. Where Wooten's Trooper union representatives, on his behalf, released all documents related to the 36 accusations the governor and her family made against Wooten back in 2005.
Alaska Public Safety Employees Association Executive Director John Cyr said, "Officer Wooten has asked that we release the records around that investigation so that the press can take an open and honest look at what happened and you may draw your own conclusions."
The papers show in 2005 Palin made a formal complaint about Wooten's behavior including: illegal moose hunting and tazering his stepson. When Palin was questioned further, however, including allegations he abused his wife, the governor admits some of her information, including that fact, was secondhand.
Cyr says, "The majority of them were either unfounded or not sustained."
After Wooten's union representatives released that information, Palin released a strongly worded statement:
"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."</ul>
Out of Palin and her family's 36 allegations Troopers found 11 were sustained. That includes Wooten drinking alcohol and driving a trooper's vehicle. Cyr says, "I don't paint the picture here that Mike is necessarily here without some blemish. I think that clearly he has had more than his share of problems."
Even though Palin continues to call Monegan's firing a personnel matter, the governor continues to say Monegan's firing was appropriate for this reason:
"We have start recruiting. We have to start doing more then just talking about it. And taking action also. So that is one. And certainly dealing in rural Alaska with those drug and alcohol problems that are so ramped that are leading to social ills that the government (deals with) after the fact."
Palin also says the way she fired Monegan, by having her acting chief of staff deliver the news, was correct. The governor says, "That is a chief of staff's job is to make sure the staff is informed of the changes coming. And some people may disagree with that. But that's why you have a chief of staff also."
Just moments before Thursday night's 10 p.m. newscast, CBS 11 News spoke again with Governor Palin. In the exclusive interview Palin says it is incorrect to report this event as though she and her family filed complaints against Wooten. She says in 2005, before she was running for governor, Valley residents contacted her in her official capacity as Wasilla's former mayor. Palin says in turn she made their concerns known to troopers. We also exclusively learned why the governor says Wooten is making these claims:
"So suspect of the timing. Will come to find out it was on Sunday that Trooper Wooten refused to obey a court order after visitation with his children, he doesn't have full custody of the kids. He had visitation. He refused to turn the kids over. One of his sergeants had to call him and tell him, 'Trooper Wooten you have to follow the court order. You have to give the kids back.' He did that with this threat. He said, 'Get ready for the show. I'm going to bring you down.' Here he's talking to his ex-wife. The mother of these children. And 'I'm going to bring your family down.' And now what is it three days later, four days later? Starts to show. So it makes sense to me now, why he riled people up. Riled the union up, and they came forward today. Because we know, I know without a doubt the dismissal of Walk Monegan, the replacement of him as commissioner of Department of Public Safety has absolutely nothing to do with Trooper Wooten"
CBS 11 News also talked to Walt Monegan and, referring to Wooten, he says it is against the law for him to talk about personnel actions. He also says he still has not been given a clear reason for his dismissal. When Governor Palin was asked what she would tell Monegan she said, "it was time for a change," but added the administration will now actively pursue new recruits.