Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Who Cares?

Posted by David Keelan on Saturday, October 11, 2008

Don’t we all care?

So, the Palin Report incriminates Gov. Palin for abuse of power threatening her image as a reformer.

Or does it?

Depends on where you stand.  Some people want it to hurt her and others are going to brush it off.

The GOP spin on this report prior to it’s release was very good.  They managed to sow a lot of doubt about the objectiveness of the legislative panel that released the report.

However, where there is smoke there is usually a fire smoldering somewhere.

Was it an abuse of power?  I don’t think so.  What do you think?

Report stings Palin over Troopergate flap

By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The politically charged investigation into Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is over, and its conclusions are stinging. But the fallout, if any, might not come until Election Day.

A legislative investigator found that Palin violated state ethics laws and abused her power by trying to have her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper.

The next move may be at the ballot box. The legislative committee that released the report Friday recommends no criminal investigation and has no authority to sanction the governor, the Republican vice presidential nominee.

“It is out of the Legislative Council’s hands. It goes to anyone’s hands who got a copy or clicks the link on the Web,” said Democratic state Sen. Kim Elton, the chairman of the committee that released the report. “I can’t tell you how the process ends.”

If voters believe the report’s finding and it tarnishes Palin’s reputation as a reformer and a champion for good government, that could hurt Republican presidential nominee John McCain in the final weeks of the race.

The McCain campaign quickly rejected that notion.

“I think the American people can tell the difference between the results of a politically motivated investigation and a legitimate finding of fact,” campaign spokesman Taylor Griffin said.

The inquiry looked into Palin’s dismissal of Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan, who said he lost his job because he resisted pressure to fire a state trooper involved in a bitter divorce and custody battle with the governor’s sister. Palin says Monegan was fired as part of a legitimate budget dispute.

Stephen Branchflower, a retired prosecutor hired to conduct the investigation, said Monegan’s firing was lawful. But the pressure Palin and her husband put on him, he said, was not.

Under Alaska law, it is up to the state’s Personnel Board, not the Legislature, to decide whether Palin violated the ethics laws. If so, it must refer the matter to the Senate president for disciplinary action. Violations also carry a possible fine of up to $5,000.

By the time that investigation is over, however, the election will be over. If Palin is the vice president-elect, the results will hardly matter. If she loses, she’ll have to address the board’s findings at home. The national media will be long gone.

Barack Obama’s presidential campaign did not comment on the report amid persistent accusations by Republicans that rival operatives were manipulating the investigation to help the Democratic presidential nominee.

Democratic Sen. Hollis French, who oversaw the investigation, contributed to that perception when he said the report could provide an “October surprise” for the McCain campaign.

Elton said partisanship played no role in the report.

“When we began investigating this, we had no idea that Sarah Palin would be a part of the national ticket,” said Elton, an Obama supporter.

Branchflower said Palin violated a statute of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act. Lawmakers don’t have the authority to sanction her for such a violation and they gave no indication they would take any action against her.

Palin has recently said that the Personnel Board inquiry is the only one that matters. And McCain’s campaign echoed those comments Friday.

“This is the opinion of this Legislative Council investigation,” Griffin said. “It’s just an opinion.”

The report notes a few instances in which Palin pressed the case against trooper Mike Wooten, but it was her husband, Todd, who led the charge. Todd Palin had extraordinary access to the governor’s office and her closest advisers and he used that access to try to get Wooten fired.

Gov. Palin knowingly “permitted Todd to use the Governor’s office and the resources of the Governor’s office, including access to state employees, to continue to contact subordinate state employees in an effort to find some way to get Trooper Wooten fired,” Branchflower’s report reads.

Wooten had been in hot water before Palin became governor over allegations that he illegally shot a moose, drank beer in a patrol car and used a Taser on his stepson. The Palins said they feared for their family’s safety after Wooten made threats against them.

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22 Responses to “Who Cares?”

  1. cindy vaillancourt said

    There are really three questions here — 1) do you think it is an unacceptable abuse of power/office to attempt to exert influence in personal matters, and 2) do you think that happened here.

    The third question – does it make a difference in whether you would support palin for veep.

    I suspect (and the report finds) that the Palin family did hope to settle a personal score through its’ growing political power – and I think it is wrong. I also think it is significant in that it tends to expose a certain mind set that is unattractive and more than a little “amateurish”.

    I think Palin is a great public speaker, an attractive woman, and probably quite bright – if not particularly well educated. My sinking suspicion has been that she is also a second rate small town politician who has and will make the kinds of mistakes that allow for these kinds of abuses of power by associates, and open the door to undue influence by lobbyists or other handlers. Kind of like what we seen when Barney Fife is left in charge in Maybery. Too bad, too.

    cv

  2. Geneal Zod said

    Behind Sarah Palin’s facade of cuteness she is still a politician.

    There is no need to focus on others abusing power because it happens right here in Howard County. Ken Ulman, the county council, Sheriff Fitzgerald etc. The list goes on….

    Power is fueled by the root of evil. It’s as if they are wearing the “Ruling Ring of Power” forged from Mordor.

  3. cindy vaillancourt said

    i don’t understand the comment “power is fueled by the root of evil”. is this a typo or a mistype of some sort – or can you explain?

    btw- I don’t think Palin is particularly cute, and I’m not sure what kind of politician she is. All her record shows me is that she has been in the right place at the right time and had the good sense to hire a professional public relations firm to effective promote her.

    a “good politician” can bring adversaries together, make disparate groups feel included and become supporters of controversial efforts, and “leave ’em smiling”. I do not think that is her legacy after a very short career (so far).

    cv

  4. General Zod said

    What I was trying to say is that power is the root of all evil.

    Yes there a good politicians but they are few and far between.

  5. PZGURU said

    The bigger issue in my mind, which has largely been dismissed in the coverage of this issue, is how/why is an Alaskan State Trooper allowed to threaten a person, taser his son, and make comments about “I’m a trooper, I’m untouchable”, and nothing happens? Frankly I think what she did was perfectly justifiable. That trooper has no business being a trooper, and if the police union thugs are protecting the trooper and allowing him to get away with illegal or unethical behavior, then I applaud her efforts to not let it go. The real abuse of powere was committed by the wacko trooper.

    And, as far as Todd Palin goes, he’s a citizen, and he’s allowed to exercise his first amendment rigths of free speech, and if he wants to pursue putting pressure on the relevant people to do something about the trooper’s unlawful behavior, then he has every right to do so. For this panel to say that Sarah Palin should have told her husband to shut up is way off base. Just because someone is the spouse of an elected official, that does not mean that the spouse has no rights (I mean look at how active Hillary was during all of Bill’s years in the white house).

    This whole thing smells of a partisanly timed hatchet job.

  6. cindy vaillancourt said

    Did you miss the part where Todd Palin was making his “citizens calls” from the Governor’s Office? or where he was such an integral part of the Governor’s Official Staff that it was reasonable for underlings to respond to him as such – including being summoned to the Governor’s Office only to find it was by him? The idea that the elected official can put off responsibility for actions which are commenced in her name by claiming that the person who acted was not “official” does not pass the laugh test for me —- especially when it is followed up by claims that the same “non-official” actor should be shielded by executive privilege claims (like some other administrations have also tried).

    Also – the claims that threats were made was not substantiated by the panel as being credible threats… but who knows…. and the taser incident (which I find reprehensible) does not appear to have been done with malice (as in he tasered his step son) .. but was apparently done during the marriage as some kind of very poorly thought out demonstration. For all we know everyone in the family agreed to let the kid “experience” the taser – and when the marriage fell apart decided it was a good item to throw in his face ( a little revisionist history that is not uncommon in contentious divorces).

    Apparently the trooper was disciplined in the same way a non-governor-relative trooper would have been. Though you and I may feel that the normal punishment for these professional lapses was inadequate – the problem remains that this one trooper cannot be treated differently that others would have been just because a “powerful” person was offended.

    This reports seems to me to have been very restrained in its language and findings – as for a hatchet job, try to remember this investigation was already in progress before Palin was tapped as veep. I wonder if the findings would have been more forceful if not for the politicization of the process.

    Cindy V

  7. PZGURU said

    True – the panel was already looking into the matter, but it seems like the timing was done in such a way as to try to impact the election – which is just more politicization of the situation.

    I know of plenty of police officers and troopers who flaunt their “authority” and abuse the power afforded them by wearing a shield. It happens every day. I don’t know that the trooper was reprimanded, and if he was, was it adeqaute? I doubt it since police unions invariably protect their own behind the “blue wall”. Not that politicians haven’t ever done the same.

    As for Todd using the phone at the governor’s mansion – I could care less. And who knows if he really summoned people to the governor’s mansion under the guise of Sarah’s orders.

    The bottom line for me – the trooper sounds like the bigger violator and trouble maker.

  8. General Zod said

    If a regular state employee used their position for personal reasons they would be fired. Bottom line is that she violated a moral and ethical code regardless if what she did had good intention. Why should she get a pass?

    What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

  9. PZGURU said

    From what I understand, the trooper was also using state property for personal use. It’s just that he has a union to cover for his sorry ass, but she doesn’t. He should have been fired for his behavior, and I applaud her for pursuing his termination through whatever means necessary.

    Hell, Bill Clinton police escort him around to hotels while he was governor so he could had mid-day flings with various fluzies.

    Frankly, I have a bigger concern with things like VOTER FRAUD, and congressmen and congresswomen getting payoffs (ie: BRIBES) from companies like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae that cause worldwide economic upheaval, but that’s just me.

  10. cindy vaillancourt said

    if you read the report, you’ll find the accusation that Todd Palin made abut using state property for personal use stemmed from an incident where Palin reported that trooper Wooten drove his kid to school in the patrol car (Palin’s sisters’ kid) —- but the FACT turned out to be that trooper wooten had requested and received PRIOR permission for that “use of state property”.

    But hey, don’t let the facts get in the way.

    cindy v

  11. PZGURU said

    Right. I’m sure that the trooper got permission ahead of time every time he used his state owned patrol car for a personal trip or errand. Get real.

    And I suppose using a taser on someone, whether as a joke or otherwise, who is not in the process of being apprehended is a normal use of that device. That trooper is an irresponsible nut who thinks his bad and pistol make him untouchable (which is basically what is he apparently said on more than one occasion).

    It seems like he was instigating trouble and aggravating the Palin’s because of Sarah’s position. He basically was thumbing his nose at her and her family.

    How you can think that a questionable phone call is more of an issue than a roque trooper (loose canon in my mind) walking around like he is above the law is beyond me.

  12. PZGURU said

    Meant to write “badge and pistol”.

  13. cindy vaillancourt said

    so the accusation was for a specific time, place and event – which turned out to have been legitimate – but using your logic, since we think “all” state employees abuse their state vehicles, this guy should be fired for it?

    ok.

    as for tasers, i think they are very dangerous and have been irresponsibly abused not only by rogue officers but on many occasions which have been deemed to have been appropriate by officials. I don’t know what the details of the tasering event were (hard to imagine a reasonable explanation).
    However – whether it is a deficiency in the Alaska State Troopers oversight or union powers, it is clear that the trooper was punished for that event in line with whatever policy would apply to any other trooper in a similar situation. If you don’t like that result I suggest you not move to Alaska, or in the alternative, move there and push for a policy change.

    As for the notion that the ex-brother-in-law was “instigating trouble and aggravating the Palin’s because of sarah’s position.” Well, since this all started before she even ran for governor – he must be psychic.

    I find it interesting that you find even the hint of abuse of authority so reprehensible.

    We might agree that his punishment did not fit our perception of his crimes — tell me, what do you consider the proper punishment for crimes you assume he probably committed based on your contempt for law enforcement officers in general?

    cindy v

  14. observer said

    PZ and Cindi, the minutia of your arguments are mind numbing. While I tend to lean towards PZ for his statements of relevance, Cindi’s concerns are downright scary. I can’t think of a worse reason to make a decision on who to vote for, for the office of President. Let’s see the husband of the VP candidate made a few questionable calls from his wife’s office to try to infuence someone to get a trooper fired who had all sorts of disciplinary problems. On the other hand Obama, the messiah is the second coming of Karl Marx and may be actively involved with radical organizations (Acorn) determined to undermine our most precious politcal process and destroy the basic framework of our democracy. I’ll guess I’ll vote for Obama. Wake up people, stop drinking the kool aid and exercise your brains. If you don’t understand what I am saying now, maybe you will in four years when your personal well being is in jeapordy, if it even takes that long.

  15. cindy vaillancourt said

    My concern is exposing hypocrisy – which can be found in ample heaping piles in this election – for instance, to stand against abuse of power by abusing power.

    I’m not sure I understand the Acorn comment – at least not in how it is going to be the downfall of democracy. Sounds like some ignorant and desperate people cheated their employer … and the employer had not quality control in place. Turning in fraudulent voter registrations should be prosecuted … but really, even if mickey mouse was registered, can he actually show up and vote? how about an individual with the same name/address/ss#…. wouldn’t the poll worker catch this one? I would not try to dismiss these abuses as inconsequential – but I think there are enough checks and balances in place to stave off the destruction of our basic framework… as demonstrated by the fact that so many were caught at this stage.

    I’m still a little concern that one of the parties will use this situation to try to circumvent the legitimate voting rights of legitimate voters.

    Observer makes a common mistake in assuming that just because one throws the bs flag at the idiocy of one group that he is somehow by definition an undiscriminating supporter of the other. In this election (as well as in previous ones) I have observed a number of thinking people who have been able to avoid a partisan lobotomy… even if ultimately they had to decide between the options offered.

    CindY V

  16. General Zod said

    Observer:

    John McCain supports ACORN too along with other groups you probably find unAmerican.

    McCain only denounces ACORN when it’s politically convenient.

    These attacks on Obama and groups such as ACORN are to divert from the fact that McCain is suffering in the polls. All the guilt by association attacks have no merit and will probably cost McCain the election. Only conservative wing-nuts care about Bill Ayers and ACORN. Most people are concerned about whether or not they can afford to support their family.

    So I encourage you to keep up the senseless attacks. Good Luck with that approach.

  17. PZGURU said

    Cindy,

    What about the reports that the trooper was drinking beer in his patrol car? Or that he threatened to kill Sarah Palin’s father? I know, that wasn’t covered in the fair and balanced report that was issued.

    The bottom line is that I think the trooper abused his power more than Sarah or Todd Palin.

    Gen Zod – the current financial crisis was caused by the DEMOCRATS in Congress, most notably those on the Finance and Banking Committee. They pushed for the shady lending practices, then ran cover for the CEO’s of Fmac and Fmae, all while receiving large sums of campaign cash. TALK ABOUT ABUSE OF POWER.

    Barack Obama has NEVER supported tax cuts before in his life, and now he’s trying to paint himself as a tax cutting capitalist. In reality he’s a welfare pushing communist/socialist. He continues to lie and say that he’s going to cut taxes for 95% of the people, but 30-35% of the people don’t pay any taxes currently. So, those people will get a CASH PAYMENT from Uncle Obama. THAT”S CALLED WELFARE (wealth redistribution). I can’t think of anything MORE un-American.

    Obama’s associations with those radicals is VERY relevant because they were his mentors. They shaped his philosophical beliefs. So, even if they aren’t on his campaign staff, he is still pushing an agenda that conforms to those radical leanings (ie: socialism/communism).

    Frankly, from 2003 until 3 months ago, the economy has been doing very well. Maybe you forgot that stock market has been pretty healthy during that time, and unemployment very low. Spending has been out of control, but Congress has a say in that too. It’s not Bush’s economic policies that caused the current meltdown, it’s the policies of people like Chris Dodd, Schumer, Franks, and Obama (how he became the #2 money recipient from Fmac and Fmae in just 3 years in the Senate is very intriguing).

    If Obama foresaw a meltdown, what legislation did he propose to fix it????? Nadda! It was McCain who proposed legislation to fix the mortgage shenanigans – but the aforesaid democrats stymied him.

    You’re another delusional retard whose hatred for Bush (who I’m no big fan of) is blinding your judgement.

  18. General Zod said

    If you want to point fingers at Congress, go back further than a year and a half, and point the finger at ALL of them. You can blame Democrats, except they don’t have enough of a majority to do what they want. Both parties are guilty. Whether you want to blame the Democrats and Barney Frank or Phil Gram and the Republicans. Each party had their hands in the kitty so I find it a little disingenuous on your part that you actually can sit there with a straight face and type that nonsense.

  19. PZGURU said

    Because, when republicans, including Bush, started pushing for regulatory reform of Fmac and Fmae, who was it that stood in the way and blocked reform???? It was the democrat controlled finance committee. THATS A FACT.

    Who was it that pushed for these shady mortgages??? Acorn and certain special interest groups (on the left) that believe that everyone has an absolute right to own a home, even if they can’t afford it. In fact, the root of the problem goes back to the establishment of the community reinvestment act, which might have been well-intentioned, but we all know about good intentions.

    I blame the republicans for spending like, well like liberals, during the years they held the majority. So I don’t hold them faultless. But this mortgage fiasco is squarely on the dems heads.

    In fact, I would go so far as to say that the dems helped orchestrate this economic collapse to happen just a few months before the election knowing full well that it would be an issue that hurts the incumbent party in the white house. They were all running around yelling “fire”, got most of the country to panic, and then sat back and watched the collapse. I mean, why did the collapse occur when it did? Why didn’t it occur 6 months ago, or 1 year ago, or 1 year later for that matter?

    Since the war in iraq could no longer be used as their main campaign issue, they needed something else to graps onto. I realize it can’t be proven, but if you want to gauge their concern for “helping” the situation, why did Harry Reid and the dems try to sneak in a slush fund payoff to ACORN, in the first bailout legislation proposal? 20% of money paid back to the fed government would have gone to ACORN and other similar “community orgnaization” groups.

    Even the legislation that was passed, by both parties, was piled on with pork. It’s ridiculous.

  20. cindy vaillancourt said

    “In fact, I would go so far as to say that the dems helped orchestrate this economic collapse to happen just a few months before the election knowing full well that it would be an issue that hurts the incumbent party in the white house.” wrote pzguru

    well… I think that ends any pretense of rational discussion that may have been lingering.

    cindy vaillancourt
    signed by my own name – give it a try, maybe word choice will improve.

  21. General Zod said

    There is guilt by association and then there is just plain association.

    Lets call into question McCain’s relationship with Liddy. Yes G. Gordon Liddy. This is only the beginning.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chi-oped0504chapmanmay04,0,6238795.column

  22. timactual said

    “Lets call into question McCain’s relationship with Liddy.”

    Yes, let’s.
    From your link;
    1)Liddy contributed money to McCain.
    2)A fundraiser for McCain was held at Liddy’s home. Was McCain there? Probably not, else I am sure it would have been mentioned.
    3)McCain was on Liddy’s radio program, where thay exchanged the usual BS pleasantries that political hacks do.

    That’s it? That’s your best shot? Pathetic. That relationship certainly is nowhere near–
    “At least as close as Obama and Ayers appear to be”

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