November 4, 2008 in Nation/World

New report absolves Palin

State board finds no rules broken
By James V. Grimaldi Washington Post
 

Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin did not violate state ethics rules as governor when she fired her state police commissioner and allegedly tried to engineer the firing of her brother-in-law from the Alaska State Troopers, an investigator for Alaska’s State Personnel Board found in a report released on the eve of the election.

The exoneration by the State Personnel Board contradicts the findings of an Alaska state legislative investigator, who ruled last month that Palin abused executive power when she and her husband engaged in a campaign to oust Mike Wooten, her former brother-in-law, from state trooper payroll.

The investigations began when Walt Monegan, the state police commissioner, alleged in July that he was fired by Palin for failing to oust the governor’s former brother-in-law.

“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,” said Timothy Petumenos, investigator for the personnel 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.”

After Palin was selected as Sen. John McCain’s running mate, her attorneys attempted to take the probe out of the hands of the legislative investigator by asking her hand-picked, three-person State Personnel Board to look into the matter. At a routine meeting, the board surprised attendees by announcing that its investigator would release his findings Monday.

The legislature’s investigator, Stephen Branchflower, found evidence that Palin actively joined her husband, Todd, in pursuing a personal vendetta against the trooper.

Petumenos said his findings are different because “the wrong statute was used as a basis for the conclusions contained in the Branchflower report” and Branchflower “misconstrued the available evidence.”

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