Friday night news dump
A legislative committee investigating Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, the Republican vice presidential candidate, issued a report Friday night that found she unlawfully abused her authority by firing the state’s public safety commissioner.
While the report concluded that a family grudge was not the only reason for dismissing the commissioner, Walter Monegan, it said it was probably a contributing factor.
“Governor Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda, to wit: To get Trooper Michael Wooten fired,” said the report, which was issued in Anchorage.
Mr. Monegan has insisted that he was dismissed as retribution for resisting pressure to fire Trooper Wooten, who was involved in a bitter divorce with the governor’s sister. Ms. Palin said Mr. Monegan was fired as part of a legitimate budget dispute.
The report, which was commissioned and released by a bipartisan state legislative panel made up of 10 Republicans and 4 Democrats, said: “The evidence supports the conclusion that Governor Palin, at the least, engaged in ‘official action’ by her inaction if not her active participation or assistance to her husband in attempting to get Troooper Wooten fired [and there is evidence of her active participation].”
However, there was at least some dissension among panel members.
“I think there are some problems in this report," said State Senator. Gary Stevens, a Republican panel member, according to the Associated Press. “I would encourage people to be very cautious, to look at this with a jaundiced eye.”
The 263-page report does not recommend sanctions or a criminal investigation.
On Thursday, Ms. Palin told reporters at a campaign stop in Ohio that she had nothing to hide. “It’s a governor’s right and responsibility to make sure that they have the right people in the right place at the right time to best serve the people who hired them, and for me, the people of Alaska, so my cabinet’s got to be the right cabinet for the people of Alaska,” she said.
In another setback for Ms. Palin, a judge on Friday ordered the state of Alaska to preserve any government-related e-mail messages that Gov. Sarah Palin sent from private accounts.
The ruling, by Craig Stowers of Anchorage superior court, came as the result of a lawsuit brought by a resident, Andree McLeod, against Ms. Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee.
Ms. Palin has occasionally used private e-mail accounts to conduct state business, and her Yahoo accounts were hacked last month.
The judge ordered the attorney general to contact Yahoo and other private carriers to preserve any e-mail messages sent and received on those accounts. An assistant attorney general told the court that the governor was no longer using here private e-mail accounts to conduct state business.
Lawmakers in Alaska released the 300-page report and 1,000 accompanying pages of documents and testimony Friday after being briefed on its findings during a closed-door session.
The politically volatile report is the product of a months-long state investigation into whether Ms. Palin abused her power as governor when she dismissed Mr. Monegan as the state public safety commissioner in July. But Mr. Monegan has said the governor’s office pressured him to dismiss Trooper Wooten.
Ms. Palin’s husband, Todd, and several of her aides responded to subpoenas from the state investigator, Steve Branchflower, but the governor herself did not testify under oath in the investigation.
Ms. Palin has said she acted appropriately. She has proffered several reasons for Mr. Monegan’s dismissal, including that he was insubordinate and did not support her budget reforms, and that she wanted to steer the state’s Public Safety Department in a new direction.
Seeking to deflect some potential damage from the investigator’s report, the McCain campaign on Thursday released its own report on the dismissal of Mr. Monegan. It concluded that Mr. Monegan’s was fired for “his insubordination and budgetary clashes with Governor Palin and her administration.”
The state Legislature approved the special investigation in July, but the inquiry became politically charged after Senator John McCain selected Ms. Palin as his running mate at the end of August.
Ms. Palin, who had initially agreed to cooperate in the investigation, refused to cooperate after her selection. Six Republican lawmakers in Alaska subsequently sued to block the report, saying the investigation was unfair and partisan.
A lower court rejected the suit, and on Thursday, the Alaska Supreme Court batted down an emergency appeal, paving the way for the publication of the report.