Two Tidbits on TrooperGate

You’ve no doubt heard that the terrorism prosecutor brought in to cover-up TrooperGate lied when he claimed that Walt Monegan was going "rogue" when he went to DC to try to secure funds to prosecute rape.

An internal government document obtained by ABC News appears to contradict Sarah Palin’s most recent explanation for why she fired her public safety chief, the move which prompted the now-contested state probe into "Troopergate."

Fighting back against allegations she may have fired her then-Public Safety Commissioner, Walt Monegan, for refusing to go along with a personal vendetta, Palin on Monday argued in a legal filing that she fired Monegan because he had a "rogue mentality" and was bucking her administration’s directives.

"The last straw," her lawyer argued, came when he planned a trip to Washington, D.C., to seek federal funds for an aggressive anti-sexual-violence program. The project, expected to cost from $10 million to $20 million a year for five years, would have been the first of its kind in Alaska, which leads the nation in reported forcible rape.

The McCain-Palin campaign echoed the charge in a press release it distributed Monday, concurrent with Palin’s legal filing. "Mr. Monegan persisted in planning to make the unauthorized lobbying trip to D.C.," the release stated.

But the governor’s staff authorized the trip, according to an internal travel document from the Department of Public Safety, released Friday in response to an open records request.

The document, a state travel authorization form, shows that Palin’s chief of staff, Mike Nizich, approved Monegan’s trip to Washington D.C. "to attend meeting with Senator Murkowski." The date next to Nizich’s signature reads June 18.

But we knew that was going to happen. This is Vindictive Firing 2, the Farcical Sequel. And we’re moving into the phase where they try to throw lie on top of lie to cover up their original abuse of power. 

I’m more interested, frankly, in the news from Andrew Halcro that Murlene Wilkes did not blow off her subpoena. 

French stated that of the fourteen subpoenas that were issued, six were served and seven were not and the last was for cell phone records for Frank Bailey that had been turned over to the special investigator Steve Branchflower by the cell phone company.

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The First Dude Refuses to Testify

The former mob and terrorism prosecutor in charge of the TrooperGate cover-up, Ed O’Callaghan, has upped the ante. The McPalin campaign announced yesterday that Todd Palin will not respond to the legislature’s subpoena. It appears that the McPalin campaign did the math, and figured they could avoid any penalties for this contemptuous behavior by suddenly getting cooperative after the elections.

Todd, along with other witnesses, can stall without penalty for months, pushing this investigation well past election day.  To bring contempt charges, which are punishable by a fine up to $500, or up to six months in jail, the full  Legislature must be in session.  That happens after Christmas.

Even assuming the campaign doesn’t catch heat for so obviously obstructing an investigation Sarah Palin once welcomed, I’m not convinced they’ve completely avoided any disclosures before election day. It seems that Steven Branchflower can still release an interim report.

Senate President Lyda Green, a Republican foe of Palin, said Wednesday that the investigation is still on track.

"The original purpose of the investigation was to bring out the truth. Nothing has changed," she said.

Without the testimony, the retired prosecutor hired to head the investigation could still release a report in October as scheduled, based on the evidence he’s already gathered. As of today, Steve Branchflower had interviewed or deposed 17 of the 33 people he had identified as potential witnesses in the probe. [my emphasis]

And it may be that Branchflower has enough already to really hurt Palin.

Note the timing of the McPalin’s recent ratcheting up of their cover-up:

August 30: McPalin campaign says Monegan’s firing was a budgetary disagreement

September 9: The Senior Assistant Attorney General Mike Barnhill agrees to allow state employees would have to testify if they are protected for prosecution for having looked at Wooten’s personnel file

September 10: Palin’s attorney Van Flein calls the investigation unconstitutional

September 12: Investigator Steven Branchflower presents case for subpoenas, including the necessity of subpoenaing Murlene Wilkes, state Workers Comp contractor

September 15: McPalin campaign fixer Ed O’Callaghan announces Palin will no longer cooperate with investigation, cites politicization

September 16: Attorney General un-recuses and reneges on the agreement to have the state employees testify, then leaves for a "vacation" in Kansas 

September 17: O’Callaghan introduces new explanation for Monegan’s firing: insubordination and "rogue mentality"

September 18: Todd Palin refuses to testify

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The Sarah Palin Show Cancels Its West Coast Tour

Last week, when I noted that the "Palin and McCain" campaign was considering keeping the Palin and her sidekick together on the campaign trail, I noted that they were probably making the choice out of necessity.

Though, really, it’s not so much "chemistry" or "magic." It’s necessity. You can’t promise concert-goers Carrie Underwood and then deliver Lawrence Welk–which is what the McCain campaign will be doing until they get their hot celebrity back on the trail. 

If there was any doubt that Carrie Underwood Palin was the draw on this ticket, the people leaving the rally in OH…

McCain was almost upstaged at the rally here by Palin, who drew rapturous applause from the crowd with her bubbly declaration– twice — that she and McCain were "going to Washington, D.C., to shake things up!”

McCain recited a speech he had given earlier in the day about the need to reform Wall Street. A slow but steady trickle of supporters began to file out after Palin’s speech introducing McCain.

Followed by the people leaving the rally in IA…

"We want Sarah," the crowd began chanting as Palin said, "Thank you,"to begin the rally.


McCain starts speaking 18 minutes into the rally.


I look up, about five minutes into McCain’s address and see a steady stream of people walking out of the rally. They just came to see Palin apparently.

Ought to disabuse you of any doubts.

So the inevitable has happened–the McPalin campaign appears to have decided to commit to their "one third the campaign rallies" strategy. That’s my best guess, anyway, as to why Palin just canceled next week’s events in California (which wasn’t going to be competitive anyway) and Washington (which, with Palin on the ticket, might be).

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has canceled her planned trip to Seattle.

A spokesman for Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Palin encountered a "scheduling conflict" and would instead be elsewhere, probably in Michigan.

Palin, the Alaska governor picked by McCain as his running mate, had planned to travel to Seattle Sept. 24 for a fundraiser. [my emphasis]

I’d be really happy about this "one third the campaign rallies" thing, if only it didn’t mean that I was going to have to see McCain and Palin traipse through my state every week for the next seven weeks. I hope they’re spending heavily.

Update: Apparently they’ve rescheduled for the first week in October.

What You and I Bought Sarah Palin

A number of people have pointed to this David Talbot article describing the bordello-red wallpaper Sarah Palin illegally plastered onto the walls of her mayoral office. But that’s not the most important part of the article. While Palin’s poor decorating taste offers one more piece of evidence she abuses power, her decision to redecorate is still an issue between the residents of Wasilla, who paid for the tacky makeover, and their former mayor.

Not so Palin’s reportedly ego-driven decision to build an emergency dispatch center for Wasilla.

Local officials are also highly critical of Palin’s decision to build an emergency dispatch center — even though Wasilla and nearby Palmer already shared the costs of an emergency operation for the Mat-Su Valley. As a result of the duplication, there are now two expensive operations for an area with 85,000 people, while the city of Anchorage, with a population of over 300,000, makes do with one emergency station.

"Don’t tell me about earmarks," snorts a borough official. "Because of Palin’s ego, she couldn’t stand the idea of sharing an emergency dispatch operation with Palmer, which has been Wasilla’s town rival ever since her high school basketball days. So she ran to [Senator] Ted Stevens to get an earmark for her own system. Now we have two expensive emergency systems and both are losing money. She’s no budget cutter — give me a break. She’s just the opposite." [my emphasis]

You see, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, you and I paid $1 million for that dispatch center in 2002, and another $750,000 in 2003, all because Sarah Palin has an insecurity complex about Palmer, left over from her high school basketball days.  It was a terrible policy decision–one the Mat-Su borough, which has to operate the center, is still hemorrhaging money over. And it was decision that owes everything to Palin’s then cozy relationship with indicted Senator, Ted Stevens (immediately after Uncle Toobz got Sarah her dispatch center money, she served as Director of Stevens’ Excellence in Public Service 527, channeling corporate money into the Alaska Republican Party). You and I paid $1,750,000 in Stevens-tied earmarks so Sarah Palin could boast her home town was as good as the town next door.  

As early as seven years ago, Sarah Palin was already corruptly screwing you and me I with her bad policy decisions.

Update: Thanks to brendanx for correcting really stupid grammar Read more

More on the TrooperGate Cover-Up

Here’s how Alaska State Representative Les Gara described the latest developments in the TrooperGate cover-up–in which five Republicans sued to stop the bi-partisan legislative investigation and the Attorney General flip-flopped over whether Palin’s staffers have to respond to legislative subpoenas.

It’s silly season up here in the far north, but this week’s moves are aimed at one thing: John McCain’s effort to find cover for being disingenuous. See, before Governor Palin’s nomination for the Republican VP spot, she did the honest thing. She admitted the evidence – of roughly 20 contacts between her staff and husband with Public Safety officials, seeking the firing of Governor Palin’s former brother-in-law – might lead a reasonable person to the conclusion that the she misused her office to fire a state employee. So when Alaska’s Republican-led Legislature called for an investigation, she did the honorable thing and said she and her staff would comply. She denies any wrongdoing.

Things changed on August 29 when Governor Palin was added to the McCain ticket. Since then his handlers have told her she can’t testify. They don’t want the evidence in this case to come out. They don’t want her to testify under oath. They don’t want other witnesses to testify under oath.

So they have engaged in daily maneuvers to attack, as disloyal to the McCain campaign, anyone who wants the investigation to move forward. They’ve now attacked two well respected prosecutors, and perhaps the state’s most highly regarded law enforcement official – the Public Safety Commissioner she hired, and then fired, Walt Monegan.

Every day this week McCain operatives have sung the same tune. Today a guy with an East Coast accent, who knows nothing about Alaska, stood in front of a McCain-Palin banner to lead the attacks against people he doesn’t know. At press conferences on Monday and Tuesday campaign staffer Megan Stapleton spit vitriol to repeat her argument that this investigation is really a "Democratic" attack on Governor Palin.

See, that’s easier than just saying their VP has reneged on her promise to testify. It’s easier than just saying they don’t want anyone testifying before the November election. It’s easier than admitting they are stonewalling a legislative investigation. [my emphasis]

Gara goes on to explain the little details about the Republican majority in the Alaksa legislature that some of us outsiders–particularly in the McCain campaign–seem to be missing. Read more

Sarah Palin’s Evolving Excuses for Firing Walt Monegan

As each new event plays out in TrooperGate, I can’t help but shake my sense of deja vu: the scandal is so much like the US Attorney purge I feel like I’ve already seen it before.

Today, that sense of deja vu comes from watching Sarah and the McPalin campaign keep changing the reasons they give for why Palin fired Walt Monegan. Andrew Halcro has a detailed chronology, from which I’ve done this summary:

February 29: Palin "really liked" Monegan, except regarding issues pertaining to her former brother-in-law

July 14: "Wanted to change leadership"

July 21: Palin wanted "more of a focus on trooper recruitment and fighting drug and alcohol abuse in rural Alaska" (though she had offered him a job doing just that)

August 13: Monegan wanted too much money for funding (he was fighting to get the funding the Governor had asked for)

September 15: Monegan had a "rogue mentality" (including, specifically, he went to DC without telling Palin in hopes of getting increased funding to fight sexual assault)

Now think of the changing reasons for the firings in the US Attorney purge:

David Iglesias:

  • Referred to as an "up and comer" in 2004
  • Immediately after the firing, DOJ accused Iglesias of being an "absentee landlord" (which would have made the firing illegal, since Iglesias traveled to serve in the Navy Reserve)
  • Later, they claimed Pete Domenici had asked Gonzales to be fired in calls in late 2005 and early 2006 (in fact, Domenici was asking whether Iglesias had the resources he needed
  • The real reason for the firing appears to be twofold: first, that Iglesias wasn’t prosecuting enough voter fraud (though Iglesias was considered a top expert on voter fraud within the department), and second, that Iglesias wouldn’t indict a top Democrat before the 2006 election

John McKay

  • DOJ claimed they fired McKay because he was insubordinate to Paul McNulty in championing a records-sharing system, LiNX
  • Later, they suggested McKay was too negative when trying to find the killer of one of the AUSAs in his office
  • As late as August 2006, McKay was considered for a federal judgeship
  • The real reason for his firing appears to be his unwillingness to push baseless voter fraud cases

Paul Charlton

  • DOJ complained that Charlton fought to tape FBI interviews in child-molestation on reservations (though they had approved a test program for doing so)
  • Gonzales complained that Charlton challenged one death penalty decision

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A Republican from Wasilla

No, not Sarah Palin. That’s not the Republican from Wasilla I’m referencing. Rather, I’m thinking of Charlie Huggins, the guy who waltzed in from moose hunting to cast the decisive vote in favor of subpoenaing all the people the McPalin campaign had convinced to stop cooperating in the TrooperGate investgation. The final vote to subpoena those who withdrew their cooperation after Sarah Palin became the Republicans’ best hope to retain the White House was 3-2, with Huggins joining two Democrats; the original vote to launch the investigation was a unanimous 12-person vote.

But the McCain campaign, in explaining why the Governor will no longer deliver the cooperation she earlier promised, now claims the investigation is "tainted," in spite of the fact that the investigation retains bipartisan support.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is unlikely to meet with a special prosecutor looking into whether she or other state officials improperly pushed to punish a trooper, a spokesman for John McCain’s presidential campaign announced Monday.

Since Palin was named as McCain’s running mate Aug. 29, the campaign has dismissed the state legislature’s investigation into her dismissal of the state’s director of public safety, saying that Democrats are exploiting the probe for political gain.

McCain campaign spokesman Ed O’Callaghan said that Palin is "unlikely to cooperate" with the investigation, which he called "tainted."

And remarkably, I don’t think they’re talking about the evidence that the investigator believes a state contractor lied to him because she had a "financial incentive" to do so. 

Nope, I just think they believe this is tainted for the same reason they think every real question about Palin’s qualifications is "sexist." Because McCain’s campaign depends on hiding how unqualified Sarah Palin is to be Vice President–not least because of a long, documented problem with abuse of power.

Sort of makes you wonder whether the Republican from Wasilla, Charlie Huggins, voted to subpoena the witnesses involved in the cover-up precisely because he knows the  abuse of power Sarah Palin is capable of?

Update: Huggins’ spelling corrected per FrankProbst.

Will the McPalin Campaign Ask Carly Fiorina to Give Her $42 Million Back?

John McCain and Sarah Palin both came out today to condemn CEOs who get golden parachutes. Here’s McCain:

We will stop multimillion dollar payouts to CEO’s who have broken the public trust.

And here’s Palin:

We’re going to reform the way Wall Street does business and stop multimillion-dollar payouts and golden parachutes to CEOs who break the public trust.

Seems to me McCain could put that campaign promise into effect right away. One of his top advisors, Carly Fiorina, laid off 20,000 HP workers, oversaw huge losses, and engaged in corporate spying. Sure sounds like she "broke the public trust" to me. And for her troubles, HP gave her $21.4 million in severance pay, plus another $21.1 million in stock options and other benefits. 

Over $42 million for–as John McCain describes it–breaking the public trust.

Call John McCain’s campaign at (703) 418-2008 and demand that McCain stand by his promise to stop this practice. Ask him to demand this his campaign advisor, Carly Fiorina, give back her loot to HP’s stockholders. 

John McCain and Sarah Palin Wallowing in Oil

I noted the other day that John McCain had falsely claimed that Sarah Palin was governor of the state that provided 20% of the nation’s energy.

Now aside from the fact that McCain is wrong about his claim that Alaska provides 20% of our energy supply (it provides 20% of our oil, relatively little–at least thus far–of our natural gas, and insignificant amounts of coal, nuclear, wind, or solar power), he’s basically arguing that a guy like George Bush has the national security qualifications to be President.

And we saw how well that worked out. 

All in all, I’d say, McCain’s making a great case for voting against Sarah Palin.

Apparently, the woman McCain says more about energy than anyone else in the country–Sarah Palin–believes the same erroneous thing.

GIBSON: But this is not just reforming a government. This is also running a government on the huge international stage in a very dangerous world. When I asked John McCain about your national security credentials, he cited the fact that you have commanded the Alaskan National Guard and that Alaska is close to Russia. Are those sufficient credentials?

PALIN: But it is about reform of government and it’s about putting government back on the side of the people, and that has much to do with foreign policy and national security issues Let me speak specifically about a credential that I do bring to this table, Charlie, and that’s with the energy independence that I’ve been working on for these years as the governor of this state that produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy, that I worked on as chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, overseeing the oil and gas development in our state to produce more for the United States.

GIBSON: I know. I’m just saying that national security is a whole lot more than energy.

PALIN: It is, but I want you to not lose sight of the fact that energy is a foundation of national security. It’s that important. It’s that significant.[my emphasis]

 Here’s correcting McCain and Palin (and me–turns out I was too generous to Alaska in my earlier post):

Palin claims Alaska "produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy." That’s not true.

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What Did the TrooperGate Investigator Mean When He Said “Financial Incentive”?

There’s a potential bombshell hidden at the end of USAT’s story on the subpoenas about to be issued in TrooperGate:

Branchflower said he needed subpoenas to interview several Palin aides who had been in meetings about the matter. And in one case, he said, he needed to compel the interview of a state contractor whom he said may have lied to him.

Murlene Wilkes owns Harbor Adjusting Services in Anchorage, which has a contract with the state to process workers’ compensation claims, Branchflower said. She told him the governor’s office did not pressure her to deny a claim for Wooten, he said. But in August, one of her employees called a tip line and claimed there indeed was such pressure, Branchflower said.

"I remember at some point in the conversation she had mentioned or said something to the effect that either the governor or the governor’s office wanted this claim denied," Branchflower quoted the tipster as saying. "I don’t care if it’s the president who wants this claim denied, I’m not going to deny it unless I have the medical evidence to do that."

Wilkes may have had a financial incentive to cover up, Branchflower said. Wilkes did not respond to a voicemail left at her office Friday afternoon. [my emphasis]

As a reminder, when Frank Bailey called State Trooper Lieutenant Rodney Dial in February to pressure him about Wooten, Bailey mentioned "funny business" about a workers comp claim Wooten had submitted–basically that days after Wooten submitted the workers comp claim, he was caught on a snowmobile. Bailey also suggests that Wooten may have hid a pre-existing injury on his Trooper application.

It sounds like someone from the Governor’s office called the workers comp contractor, Murlene Wilkes, gave her this information, and pushed her to deny the coverage on that basis. Wilkes refused to deny the claim. But when Wilkes spoke with Branchflower, she said the Governor’s office had not pressured her. [Update: Andrew Halcro has some on this.]

And Branchflower says, "Wilkes may have had a financial incentive to cover up." Sure, it may just be that Wilkes didn’t want to lose the contract with the state, and so didn’t admit the pressure to Branchflower. Branchflower may just mean that Wilkes decided, on her own, not to piss off Sarah Palin.

But it sure makes you wonder whether someone made the threat of losing the contract explicit.