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Legislative panel finds Palin abused authority, ethics laws

October 10, 2008 |  7:50 pm

An investigator for an Alaskan legislative panel issued a report Friday night saying that as governor, Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate for vice president, violated ethics laws and abused her authority in seeking to have her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper.

The panel found that inaction on her dismissal request was at least one factor in Palin firing her state public safety commisAlaska Governor Sarah Palin gives the State of the State speech last January before becoming the Republican Party's vice presidential candidate with John McCainsioner, Walt Monegan.

The governor's husband, Todd Palin, was also involved in seeking the trooper's dismissal after a contentious divorce for allegedly threatening the governor's family members, illegally shooting a moose, driving under the influence of alcohol and Tasering his young son.

The report is not a legal indictment; the panel has no power to prosecute. Members said they'd await a state Personnel Board report before considering some action, probably not before January.

The embarrassing report, which Palin charged had become a partisan tool since her GOP VP nomination, is certain to create undesirable distractions for the McCain-Palin ticket as it struggles to ....

... regain political momentum in the presidential race and close a gap in polls with the Democratic ticket.

Late Friday a Palin spokeswoman issued this statement:

"Today's report shows that the governor acted within her proper and lawful authority in the reassignment of Walt Monegan. The report also illustrates what we've known all along: This was a partisan-led inquiry run by Obama supporters, and the Palins were completely justified in their concern regarding Trooper Wooten, given his violent and rogue behavior.

"Lacking evidence to support the original Monegan allegation, the Legislative Council seriously overreached, making a tortured argument to find fault without basis in law or fact. The governor is looking forward to cooperating with the Personnel Board and continuing her conversation with the American people regarding the important issues facing the country."

The reference to the Personnel Board concerns a separate investigation into Palin's firing of Monegan, which she claims was over his refusal to make ordered budget cuts.

As The Times' Kim Murphy and Charles Piller report elsewhere on this website, the governor's actions or inactions were found to be an inappropriate breach of state ethics laws:

"The evidence supports the conclusion," the investigator said, "that Gov. Palin, at the least, engaged in 'official action' by her inaction, if not her active participation or assistance to her husband in attempting to get Trooper Wooten fired." The report later adds: "There is evidence of her active participation."

The reporters' full story is available here.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credit: Associated Press