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article image'Troopergate' Part 2: Sarah Palin and Walter Monegan

By Samantha A. Torrence     Sep 17, 2008 in Politics
Sarah Palin's firing of appointed Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan has come under scrutiny time and time again in the media. However, the soundbite media has not covered the case completely.
Troopergate started in July 2008 with the firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan. However, the real scrutiny did not begin till Andrew Halcro, the independent gubernatorial candidate who lost the 2006 Alaskan election to Palin, posted the allegation on his blog that the most disturbing reasoning behind Monegan's firing was the situation with Mike Wooten.
It bears to note that the Public Safety Commissioner is appointed by the Governor to enact the policies specified by the Governor. If the Governor, at any time, does not feel an appointed employee is meeting the expectations or backing the policies of the Governor, the Governor may terminate employment.
The allegations discussed on Halcro's blog have been bouncing around the media and blogger trampoline. However some digging has pulled up misinterpreted facts and speculation as well as what some have perceived as outright lies.
The initial reason for firing was a cited disagreement over budgeting as well as trooper recruitment and moral. Sarah Palin and Walter Monegan butted heads over the departmental vs. State affairs and budget allotment for programs some felt were needed to improve the AST Department.
Now an internal investigation is being held into the reasoning behind Monegan's dismissal in light of evidence that a state government aide and Todd Palin discussed Mike Wooten with Walter Monegan.
Pressure from the Governor, Her Staff, and Her Family
It came to light during investigation that Frank Bailey called one of Monegans associates at the State Troopers office about Mike Wooten. The phone call can be heard here. The phone call was 24 minutes and discussed union business before the problem with Mike Wooten.
Frank Bailey claims he did not act on order from the Governor.
Frank Bailey, the boards and commissions director, told The Associated Press he acted on his own — and not on behalf of Palin or her husband, Todd — when he called Ketchikan-based Lt. Rodney Dial, pushing for the firing of Trooper Mike Wooten.
“There was never any direction by the governor, never any direction by Todd to make the call or to make any call to DPS on this stuff,” Bailey said.
Todd Palin also contacted Monegan about Trooper Wooten. The governor's office released a statement to clarify Todd's involvement in the case.
Monegan has also raised questions about the propriety of the First Gentleman, Todd Palin, meeting with Monegan right after the Governor was elected to discuss security concerns surrounding a state trooper. That meeting occurred following standard questioning of any newly-elected Governor and First Family members regarding security detail concerns. The First Gentleman was specifically told to meet with Monegan by the Governor’s top security detail, Special Agent Bob Cockrell, to forward serious concerns that were substantiated in an internal trooper investigation. The concerns regarding the trooper included: using a Taser stun gun on his stepson, illegally killing a moose and driving with an open container in his patrol car. The First Gentleman also expressed concern over death threats made against a family member by the trooper.
“When made aware of the security concerns regarding a state trooper, I instructed the First Gentleman to contact the commissioner of Public Safety,” Cockrell said. “It is standard protocol to ask every governor about any threats they perceive or have realized. I will not hesitate to set the record straight in answering these false allegations by former Commissioner Monegan.”
Cockrell, who joined the Alaska State Troopers in 1963, started with the Office of the Governor in 1983, under Governor Bill Sheffield. He is now serving his sixth governor.
In response to the accusations, the Governor's office released an internal audit that concluded that some aids did make unauthorized phone calls about Wooten, but Sarah Palin was not only not involved, but also denounced any action.
The Reasons for Firing Monegan
According to Alaskan Pride:
Palin has been under heavy criticism since firing former Department of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. However, she also disclosed three reasons why she fired Monegan (I listened to the press conference in part on KFQD and specifically took down this information).
- He was not making headway on achieving key goals such as resolving the trooper shortfall.
- He was not making satisfactory progress on resolving alcohol issues.
- He was not a team player in regards to budget issues.
But recognizing his previous experience in dealing with alcohol issues, particularly in Bush Alaska, Governor Palin did not want to remove Monegan from the administration altogether, but to place him in charge of the Alcoholic Beverage Control board, where he could combine his rural expertise with a full-time focus on alcohol issues. Nevertheless, Monegan elected not to accept the post, and left the administration instead. Monegan continues to maintain he was pressured by Palin’s family and the administration to fire Trooper Wooten.
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