10-11-2008, 06:38 PM
Palin defends role despite report
[quote]PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- Palin implied this morning the Alaska legislative panel found she had done nothing wrong despite an independent investigator's report that she had “abused” her authority in seeking the firing of her ex-brother-in-law as a state trooper.
"No, and if you read the report you'll see that there was nothing unlawful or unethical about replacing a cabinet member,” she said, when asked about the report while boarding the Straight Talk Express bus with the engines roaring behind her. “You gotta read the report, sir."
Palin's answer, carefully parsed, is accurate in and of itself. She broke no laws and she is within her rights as governor to dismiss state officials, as she did with former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. But the report also found that she abused her authority and "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."
Additionally it found that her actions were "a violation of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act," which, as the New York Times writes today, "was established to ‘discourage executive branch employees from acting upon personal interest in the performance of their public responsibilities and to avoid conflicts of interest in the performance of duty.’”
Palin’s husband, Todd, acknowledged earlier this week that he spoke with state officials, to seek Wooten’s dismissal. The Palin family and staff maintain their actions were warranted because Wooten had committed several crimes, including tasering his stepson. Independent investigator Steve "Branchflower, however, wrote that he doesn't believe the Palins were truly afraid of Wooten," the Alaska Daily News reported today. "I conclude that such claims of fear were not bona fide and were offered to provide cover for the Palins' real motivation: to get Trooper Wooten fired for personal family related reasons."
Before an audio recording surfaced in August that showed “an aide pressuring the Public Safety Department to fire a state trooper embroiled in a custody battle with her sister,” the Alaska Daily News reported at the time, Palin had “previously said her administration didn't exert pressure to get rid of trooper Mike Wooten" or that "her staff had made about two dozen contacts with public safety officials about the trooper.”
"I do now have to tell Alaskans that such pressure could have been perceived to exist although I have only now become aware of it," Palin said at the time and called the evidence a "smoking gun." And when the investigation opened, she declared, "Hold me accountable."[/quote]
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