Timothy Petumenos, an independent investigator hired by the Alaska Personnel Board, address the board in Anchorage, Alaska today, after they announced the release of the report detailing whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power by firing her public safety commissioner.
The state Personnel Board-sanctioned investigation is the second into whether Palin violated state ethics law in firing her public safety commissioner, and it contradicts the earlier findings by a special counsel hired by the state Legislature.
Both investigations found that Palin was within her rights to fire Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.
But the new report says the Legislature’s investigator was wrong to conclude that Palin abused her power by allowing aides and her husband, Todd, to pressure Monegan and others to dismiss her ex-brother-in-law, Trooper Mike Wooten. Palin was accused of firing Monegan after Wooten stayed on the job.
The Palins have argued that Wooten was a loose cannon who had tasered his stepson, drank beer in his patrol car, and threatened Palin’s father, and that their complaints that he shouldn’t be on the force were justified.
The Troopergate matter became sharply politicized after Palin was announced as Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s running mate in Tuesday’s election.
The report, released at a Monday afternoon press conference at the Hotel Captain Cook, presents the findings and recommendations of Anchorage lawyer Timothy Petumenos, hired as independent counsel for the Personnel Board to examine several complaints against Palin.
- There is no probable cause to believe that Governor Palin violated the Alaska Executive Ethics Act by making the decision to dismiss Department of Public Safety Commissioner Monegan and offering him instead the position of Director of the Alaska Beverage Control Board.
- There is no probable cause to believe that Governor Palin violated the Alaska Executive Ethics Act in any other respect in connection with the employment of Alaska State Trooper Michael Wooten.
- There is no basis upon which to refer the conduct of Governor Palin to any law enforcement agency in connection with this matter because Governor Palin did not commit the offenses of Interference with Official Proceedings or Official Misconduct.
- There is no probable cause to believe that any other official of state government violated any substantive provision of the Ethics Act.
- There is no legal basis or jurisdiction for conducting a â€œDue Process Hearing to Address Reputational Harmâ€ as requested by former Commissioner Walter Monegan.
- The Amended Complaint by the PSEA should be dismissed.
- Independent Counsel recommends that the appropriate agency of State government address the issue of the private use of e-mails for government work and revisit the record retention policies of the Governorâ€™s Office.
- These findings differ from those of the Branchflower Report because Independent Counsel has concluded the wrong statute was used as a basis for the conclusions contained in the Branchflower Report, the Branchflower report misconstrued the available evidence and did not consider or obtain all of the material evidence that is required to properly reach findings.
Will this be the end of Troopergate?
Obviously, the Alaska Legislature may weigh into the flap when they convene in January but for now the issue appears moribund.
But, stay tuned…….
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