Last night, the McCain campaign released documents to show that Gov. Palin did not fire her political appointee, Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan, because he refused to fire state trooper Mike Wooten, Gov. Palin's former brother-in-law. An internal state trooper investigation found that Wooten had threatened that Palin's father would "eat a f---ing bullet." Palin had raised concerns to Monegan about the fact that Wooten was still carrying a gun and working for the state, but Palin's legal counsel contends that the decision to sack Monegan was not related to Wooten. Rather, Palin's lawyer writes, the decision was "based on [Monegan's] refusal to execute her Administration's policy on fiscal and budget matters, a refusal that between late 2007 and the middle of 2008 blossomed into outright insubordination." Ed Morrissey usefully outlines Monegan's record of insubordination:
* 12/9/07: Monegan holds a press conference with Hollis French to push his own budget plan. * 1/29/08: Palin's staffers have to rework their procedures to keep Monegan from bypassing normal channels for budget requests. * February 2008: Monegan publicly releases a letter he wrote to Palin supporting a project she vetoed. * June 26, 2008: Monegan bypassed the governor's office entirely and contacted Alaska's Congressional delegation to gain funding for a project.
The release of these documents came as the McCain campaign announced that Gov. Palin will not cooperate with the ethics probe "as long as it remains tainted." Monegan's connection with Alaska state senator Hollis French is one of the reasons the McCain campaign contends the investigation is tainted. As noted above, Monegan held a press conference with the Democratic state senator after he objected to Sarah Palin's budget. Hollis French is now managing the investigation into Monegan's firing, and French has already made partisan remarks about it to the press, saying to the Washington Post: "It undercuts one of the points they are making that [Palin] is an ethical reformer." A few days ago, the McCain campaign sent out this picture of French at an Obama event: hollisfrench.jpg Palin's counsel requested that the complaint be dismissed because no ethics violation would have occurred even if she did fire Monegan because he let Wooten keep his job:
To the extent the Governor is alleged to have sought a non-financial personal benefit from an attempt to have Mr. Wooten dismissed, that benefit would have been a benefit shared generally with the public -- namely, the benefit of a trooper force free from rogue officers who have been found guilty of acts of violence and recklessness against the public. The Ethics Act specifically permits state officials to act in such circumstances, and thus even if the allegations were true -- which they assuredly are not -- there would be not probable cause to pursue the claim in this matter.
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