Palin claims she was "cleared" by the report which said she "abused her power"
Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin ignored the initial finding of the "Troopergate" report and told Alaskan reporters she was cleared of all charges.
While the report said Palin "abused her power" and violated the state's ethics law for the governor's office, Palin told reporters she was "cleared of any legal wrongdoing or unethical activity at all".
First of all, Palin's access even to the Alaskan media was closely controlled, according to those who covered the telephone interview.
Lisa Demer in Anchorage --
Gov. Sarah Palin took about 5 minutes and 30 seconds Saturday afternoon to talk by phone with Alaska reporters and give her view of the Troopergate investigation. She called the case “Tasergate,” a reference to an earlier finding from a trooper investigation that her former brother-in-law used a Taser on his stepson.
Meghan Stapleton, a campaign spokeswoman, opened the conference call and limited questions to one from each reporter. On the line: the ADN, KTVA-Channel 11 and KTUU-Channel 2. Palin could apparently hear us only when an operator turned on our individual lines (which probably explains why there was no response to my follow-up question).
The interview opened with Palin's comments.
Well, I’m very very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing … any hint of any kind of unethical activity there. Very pleased to be cleared of any of that. Todd did what anyone would have done given this state trooper’s very, very troubling behavior and his dangerous threats against our family. Todd did what I think any Alaskan would do.
And he, Todd did what the state’s Department of Law Web site tells anyone to do if they have a concern about a state trooper. And that’s you go to the commissioner and you express your concern. And Todd did what our personal detail asked him to do. Bob Cockrell early on as I was elected and was asked are there any threats against you, and Todd brought the concern as I did to Commissioner Monegan about the state trooper’s threats. He did what any – I think -- any rational person would do so again, nothing to apologize there with Todd’s actions and again very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing.
Actually, the report commissioned by the predominately Republican Legislative Council was silent on whether Palin's husband had done anything wrong as he was not part of the executive department.
As the Anchorage Daily News reporter said, a strict one question, no followup protocal was followed.
Stapleton invites the first question).
ADN: Governor, finding No.1 on the report was that you abused your power by violating state law. Do you think you did anything wrong at all in this Troopergate case?
Palin: Not at all and I’ll tell you, it, I think that you’re always going to ruffle feathers as you do what you believe is in the best interest of the people whom you are serving. In this case I knew that I had to have the right people in the right position at the right time in this cabinet to best serve Alaskans, and Walt Monegan was not the right person at the right time to meet the goals that we had set out in our administration. So no, not having done anything wrong, and again very much appreciating being cleared of any legal wrongdoing or unethical activity at all.
ADN: Have you read the whole report? (No response; Stapleton invites question from KTVA reporter).
Despite the fact the overwhelming majority of the council which released the Troopergate report was Republican, Palin told reporters when asked it was a "partisan circus".
She also defended the McCain campaign for taking the high road and not attacking "good people in Alaska".
But no, in John McCain’s mission here, in taking the high road, as you’re going to see too with a lot of unfair shots he has taken in this campaign with some of his opponents’ supporters, McCain and I taking the high road, being positive.
She said calling fired public safety director Walt Monegan a "rougue" was not a negative term. She said Monegan was not working to meet her goals.
That could be characterized I think as a cabinet member who – it’s not a negative term I think -- being rogue in terms of not meeting those goals.
A full transcript of the interview by the Anchorage Daily News is here. The article also includes an audio recording of the interview.
While finding that Palin was within her rights to fire Monegan, the report said his failure to fire Palin's former brother-in-law Mike Wooten was one of the reasons for the dismissal.
The report lays out a campaign by Palin's husband Todd, Palin herself and members of the gubernatorial staff to convince Monegan to fire Wooten. Palin's family was upset Wooten kept his job after several incidents the family reported to authorities, including the tasering of his stepson, illegally shooting a moose and threats to the family.
"Governor Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda,. to wit; to get Trooper Michael Wooten fired. She had the authority and the power to require Mr. Palin to cease contacting subordinates, but she failed to act," the report states.
"Such impermissible and repeated contacts create conflicts of interests for subordinate employees who must choose to either please a superior or run the risk of facing that superior's displeasure and the possible consequences of such displeasure."
"I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act," Special Investigator Steve Branchflower says in his first finding in the report. That section prohibits using a state office for personal reasons or gain.
Palin's attorneys have argued that Palin neither sought or received financial benefits from the activities and therefore the ethics statute does not apply.
Branchflower quoted the law in his report, which council members voted unanimously to release.
"The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust."
Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act.
A transcript and audio recording of the interview is available here at the Anchorage Daily News website.