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Palin e-mails blasted troopers

Official who says he was dismissed for not firing her ex-brother- in-law gives copies to ethics investigators.

September 04, 2008|From Times Wire Services

EAGLE RIVER, ALASKA — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, John McCain's vice presidential running mate, wrote e-mails that harshly criticized Alaska state troopers for failing to fire her former brother-in-law and ridiculed an internal affairs investigation into his conduct.

The e-mails were shown to the Washington Post by former Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan, who was fired by Palin in July.

Monegan has given copies of the e-mails to state ethics investigators to support his contention that he was dismissed for failing to fire Trooper Mike Wooten, who at the time was feuding with Palin's family.

Earlier in the day, an aide to Palin refused to give a deposition to a legislative investigator reviewing Monegan's firing, the Associated Press reported.

An attorney for Palin aide Frank Bailey questioned whether the Legislature had jurisdiction to investigate the dismissal.

That position echoes the argument by a lawyer defending Palin and her office in the investigation.

When the probe was launched, Palin said she and her staff would cooperate fully.

On Wednesday, Palin's lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, released a letter sent the previous day asking the state to suspend the investigation until the jurisdiction issue is resolved.

If granted, the suspension could delay any announcement about whether Palin abused her power until after the November election.

In one of the e-mails, sent in 2007 from Palin's personal Yahoo account, Palin complained that Wooten "is still out on the street, in fact he's been promoted. It was a joke, the whole year long 'investigation' of him."

In another e-mail, she complained that Wooten had "threatened to kill my dad yet was not even reprimanded by his bosses and still to this day carries a gun."

Palin's campaign spokeswoman, Maria Comella, said that Palin was merely alerting officials to potential threats to her family and that there is no evidence Palin ever ordered Wooten to be fired.

"Let's be clear: Gov. Palin has done nothing wrong and is an open book in this process. Mr. Monegan even stated himself that no one ever told him to fire anyone, period," Comella said later in a statement.

"The governor was rightly expressing concern about Mr. Wooten."

When Palin entered the governor's office in late 2006, Wooten already had been reprimanded, reassigned and suspended for five days for incidents reported by Palin's family.

They had filed complaints in April 2005 after her younger sister's marriage fell apart and a bitter child-custody dispute ensued.

Palin has said previously that she discussed Wooten with Monegan only in the context of security concerns.

Monegan has said that Palin never directly told him to fire Wooten but that the message was clearly conveyed through Palin, her husband and three members of her Cabinet.

"To allege that I or any member of my family . . . directed disciplinary action be taken against any employee of the Department of Public Safety is, quite simply, outrageous," Palin said in a July statement.

During an interview Wednesday, Monegan said that as Alaska's top law enforcement official, he took his duties seriously.

"I would willingly die for the governor, but I would never lie for her," he said.

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