Exclusive ABC report questions Palin reason for firing public safety chief
Legal pleadings filed earlier this week said Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin fired her public safety chief because of a planned trip to lobby Washington to fund a program to fight sexual violence. That was the "last strraw" of his bucinking administration directives.
However, ABC news says Palin's chief aide approved that trip.
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."
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 Walt Monegan, the move which prompted the now-contested state probe into "Troopergate." (ABC News Photo Illustration)
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 has repeated that claim, according to the report.
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.
Last week a legislative panel approved a subpoena for Nizich to be interviewed by Stephen Branchflower, the prosecutor hired to conduct the Alaska Legislature's inquiry into Troopergate. The Attorney General informed the Legislature earlier this week that Nizich and other state employees subpoenaed in the matter would not submit to interviews.
Contacted Friday, Monegan confirmed the travel authorization was to pursue funding for the anti-sexual-violence program. He said the travel authorization form was completed in a fashion consistent with practice, even though it showed no expenditures. The signed form approved the travel, he said, and authorized him to use a government credit card or seek reimbursement for expenses he incurred during the trip.
Monegan said he didn't know why Palin's chief of staff approved a trip that confounded her other aides. "It sounds like it's a breakdown of communication internal to the governor's staff," he said.
The McCain-Palin campaign did not respond to requests for comment.
The McCain-Palin campaign has repeated that claim, according to the report. However, what was on the minds of the inner circle? On the day Monegan was fired, two emails shot out of the Washington office of John W. Katz, Director of State/Federal Relations and Special Counsel to the Governor. He seemed particularly unnerved by the idea of the Monegan visit.
If he intends to approach the Congressional delegation, this should be carefully planned. It is late in the appropriations process to suggest new budget requests. Also, relations with Senator Stevens have improved significantly, and I don’t want to do anything that jeopardizes that.
Palin court filing
A couple of hours later -
a request for funding at this time is out of sequence with our other appropriations requests and could put a strain on the evolving relationship between the Governor and Senator Stevens.
Palin court filing
The emails refer to Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), who now faces federal corruption indictments.
Within hours, Monegan was fired.