Palin ‘Unlikely To Cooperate’ With ‘Troopergate’ Probe
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Governor Palin is unlikely to speak with an independent counsel hired by Alaska lawmakers to review the firing of her public safety commissioner, a spokesman for the Republican presidential candidate, Senator McCain, said today.
The spokesman, Ed O’Callaghan, initially said Mr. Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president, would not testify as part of the probe “as long as it remains tainted.” He later clarified his statement to say Mr. Palin is “unlikely to cooperate” with the inquiry.
Mr. O’Callaghan also said he did not know whether Mr. Palin’s husband, Todd, would challenge a subpoena issued last Friday to compel his cooperation. The Palins’ lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, who has accepted service of the subpoena, did not return messages seeking comment. The governor herself has not been subpoenaed, but the Legislature’s investigator, Steve Branchflower, has said he hopes to speak with her.
Mr. McCain’s campaign insists the investigation into the firing of the Public Safety Commissioner, Walt Monegan, has been hijacked by Democrats. The campaign says it can prove Mr. Monegan was fired in July because of insubordination on budget issues, and not because he refused to fire a state trooper who went through a nasty divorce from Mrs. Palin’s sister.
To that end, the campaign released a series of e-mails detailing the frustration several Palin administration officials experienced in dealing with Mr. Monegan. The “last straw,” the campaign said, was a trip Mr. Monegan planned to Washington in July to seek federal money for investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases.
In a July 7 e-mail, the governor’s special counsel, John Katz, noted two problems with the trip: the governor hadn’t agreed the money should be sought, and the request “is out of sequence with our other appropriations requests and could put a strain on the evolving relationship between the Governor and Sen. Stevens.”
Mr. Monegan was fired four days later.
In the weeks since, it has emerged that the Palins and her staff repeatedly had contacted Monegan expressing their dismay at the continued employment of Trooper Mike Wooten, who divorced Mrs. Palin’s sister in 2005. The following year, Mr. Wooten was suspended for five days based on complaints filed by the Palins, including that he drank in his patrol car, used a Taser on his 10-year-old stepson, and illegally shot a moose.
The Legislature voted to authorize an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Monegan’s firing.
Mrs. Palin initially said she welcomed the inquiry. But after she became Mr. McCain’s running mate on August 29 her lawyer sought to have the three-member state Personnel Board take over the investigation, alleging that public statements by the chair of the Senate Judiciary committee indicated the probe was politically motivated.