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Sarah Palin emails: Governor's team scrambled to respond to 'Troopergate' affair

June 10, 2011|By Kim Murphy
  • Walt Monegan, left, and Mike Wooten
Walt Monegan, left, and Mike Wooten (Associated Press )

The central domestic scandal that rocked Sarah Palin's administration as governor -- the firing of Public Safety director Walt Monegan in an affair known as Troopergate -- is the subject of dozens of feverish emails from inside her administration, with the governor insisting that Monegan had "spoken untruthfully" about pressure to fire Palin's ex-brother-in-law.

In a chaotic scramble to respond to Monegan's claims that Palin at one point describes as a "cluster," the former governor appears not to remember a key meeting Monegan said he had with her, in which he claimed Palin herself had brought up the issue of the controversial trooper, Mike Wooten.

Palin ordered her aides to search the calendars to see if such a meeting  could have happened, and mobilizes the staff to point out what she says was the real issue behind Monegan's dismissal, his deficiencies in running the department.

RELATED: Read the Palin emails

"Please trust me that the best path forward, in fairness to the public and consistent with an open government without anything to hide is for me to be freed up to speak -- especially now that Walt has chosen to speak erroneously about his dismissal," she writes in July 2008 to her senior staff.

"That proves I have nothing to hide; proves the legitimate reasons for the need to go in a better direction [with] DPS;  proves this had nothing to do with Wooten," she said, who had been involved in an ugly divorce with Palin's sister in 2006.

Monegan had claimed he was repeatedly pressured by Palin's administration to fire Wooten. State investigations, previous emails and a book by former Palin aide Frank Bailey all have provided exhaustive evidence that Todd Palin and administration staffers had made repeated contacts with the Department of Public Safety about Wooten, alleging that he was a dangerous loose cannon who didn't belong in the state police force.

The new emails present a somewhat different picture. While acknowledging at one point that Todd Palin, when asked, had listed Wooten as a potential security threat to the Palin family, Palin and her staff make little or no reference to personal disputes with the trooper and instead attempt to document disputes with Monegan over issues such as the public safety budget.

"I am not hesitant to speak, but have tried to respect Walt's assumed desire for zero public scrutiny (but look where that's getting us), thus we've left it with a general message of change at DPS," Palin wrote. "That must be better explained ... i.e. recruitment, bootlegging that Walt could have focused on ... , more energy and action needed in DPS half-way through the term...," Palin said. "Walt obviously doesn't mind the public discussion at this point, and his untruths must be countered at the same time."

The emails also show that Palin appears to think Wooten has helped orchestrate some of the bad publicity.

She forwarded a copy of an email from her sister, Molly, to whom Wooten had been married, which said: "On Monday night, at approximately 8:00 p.m., Mike Wooten said to me, ‘Get ready for the show! You and your family are going down! Get ready for the show!'"

"This answers some of the timing issue with Wooten and the union," Palin suggested.

Nor was the situation getting any easier—the former Kenai police officer Palin had appointed to replace Monegan was embroiled in allegations of sexual harassment from his previous job and had to step down after two weeks -- a knock between the eyes for the Palinites, who appeared to have been caught unawares.

"I shall be meeting with Kopp to more fully understand the situation we discussed yesterday," Palin wrote on July 23, 2008. "I won't rely on press to get to the bottom of all this."

In fact, the only relief in sight during those days of controversy in late July 2008 was a request by the Wall Street Journal to photograph Palin jogging. Of course, said one email, a baby jogger would have to be procured.

"Distractions – AMEN!" wrote her press aide, Sharon Leighow.

"Maybe by the glacier so there's major distractions?" Palin responded.

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