Saturday, October 11, 2008

Governor Palin, in Reassigning Moneghan, Exercised Her Lawful and Constitutional Authority

That's what the Alaskan investigation found in it's Second Official Finding, listed after a First Official Finding where the author read Governor Palin's mind so as to find her in violation of an Alaska Ethics Law which is so broad it could "ethically" indict a ham sandwich.

Jules Crittenden:
The Anchorage Daily News points to this graph from the report:
“Governor Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda … to get Trooper Michael Wooten fired,” Branchflower’s report says.

“Compliance with the code of ethics is not optional. It is an individual responsibility imposed by law, and any effort to benefit a personal interest through official action is a violation of that trust. … The term ‘benefit’ is very broadly defined, and includes anything that is to the person’s advantage or personal self-interest.”
Broad enough to drive a campaign bus through. I hereby declare all pols, whose every breath is an act of personal self-promotion, to be in permanent violation of Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a). I’m applying Hague rules here. Doesn’t matter where you practice politics, you’re guilty.

Anyway, the hacks’ finding regarding the commissioner’s firing is that while the trooper issue played a role, so did other factors actually cited by Palin. It specifically states his firing was a “proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statuatory.”
Let's be plain about the problem with this application of the Alaska Ethics Law: Governor Palin was advancing both 1) a personal interest and 2) an interest of the citizens of the State of Alaska, aka citizens for whom she had a fiduciary duty to represent and to protect from danger. More Crittenden:
There’s also, of course, the question of whether a state trooper who is making threats and behaving erratically … you know, tasering children … is more than just a personal interest for someone who is ultimately responsible for the public safety of all Alaskans. Unclear whether the august panel mulled that.

Trooper Wooten drank in his patrol car; announced himself as a State Trooper and then started a bar fight; and had the bad judgment to taser his 10 year old son. Just to pile on: he illegally shot a moose while on duty and being paid to uphold Alaska law. That is strictly the stuff verified by the police investigation into Trooper Wooten's activities. Why is this man still being paid by the State of Alaska? That he had the bad judgment to threaten to put a bullet into the brain of his wife's father (Chuck Heath) is just gravy. BTW: have you seen Chuck Heath? To threaten him is detestable.

Chuck Heath shot this bear; maybe Wooten had his reasons

Here's what some media have reported, yet most media are not reporting:

1) While Commissioner, Walt Monegan was in open revolt against Gov. Palin's attempts to keep his budget low, and was attempting a power play wherein other state politicians would apply political and public pressure to get his budget higher. This is public record, and is not disputed by Monegan or the Alaska State Senators who were helping him. Instead, their defense is that Gov. Palin was saddling the office with an unfairly low budget.

2) Though he deserved to be fired for budget insubordination, Walt Monegan was instead reassigned to another position. Monegan refused reassignment. Walt Monegan was never fired. I repeat: Walt Monegan was never fired.

Now, try this fun game: check your local headlines for accuracy.

3) Monegan did not allege unethical pressure had been applied until a month had passed after his resignation. Supposedly, and I can't remember what the evidence is for this: Monegan was talked into making the allegation by a Palin enemy whom she had defeated in the race for governor.

4) Monegan's Commissioner job was a political patronage position, i.e. a position designed to be filled or refilled at whim of the Governor, as part of the spoils of electoral victory and the lawful exercise of resultant authority. Every local and state government has such patronage positions. National government has them also. You put persons who will do a good job into the positions - yet they are your people, and everybody knows it, and it's perfectly proper, except if a situation can be spun during an election season.

Example: U.S. Attorneys are political patronage positions for POTUS who properly put their own people into the positions. Bill Clinton demanded resignations of 90 U.S. Attorneys during his first week in office.* GWB, in an effort at bipartisanship and "reaching across the aisle", demanded no U.S. Attorney resignations until his 5th year in office, whereupon he demanded 7 resignations, whereupon the Dem controlled Congress investigated him for nefarious motive, and the Bush Administration U.S. Attorney (Non) Scandal was born. True fact.

The Alaska investigation and report are absolute crap, yet headlines all over America are mischaracterizing them at this very moment. Beldar is a veteran Houston lawyer, and has read the 263 page report:

Here's a note to Mr. Branchflower, who clearly is verbose, but obviously none too keen a scholar of logic: Gov. Palin's so-called "firing" of Monegan can't simultaneously be a violation of the Ethics Act and "a proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statutory authority."
What's more incredible is that Branchflower utterly ignores the public admission made by Walt Monegan himself that ought to have ended this entire inquiry (boldface mine):
"For the record, no one ever said fire Wooten. Not the governor. Not Todd. Not any of the other staff," Monegan said Friday from Portland. "What they said directly was more along the lines of 'This isn't a person that we would want to be representing our state troopers.'"
That explains, of course, why it took a couple of weeks for Monegan to be persuaded that he'd been improperly "fired" (for supposedly refusing to fire Wooten) by an Alaska blogger, Andrew Halcro — a bitter loser whom Gov. Palin crushed in the 2006 Alaska gubernatorial race.

Instead, Branchfire has piled a guess (that the Palins wanted Wooten fired, rather than, for example, counseled, disciplined, or reassigned) on top of an inference (that when the Palins expressed concern to Monegan about Wooten, they were really threatening to fire Monegan if he didn't fire Wooten) on top of an innuendo (that Gov. Palin "fired" Monegan at least in part because of his failure to fire Wooten) — from which Branchflower then leaps to a legal conclusion: "abuse of authority."

Branchflower reads the Ethics Act to prohibit any governmental action or decision made for justifiable reasons benefiting the State if that action or decision might also make a public official happy for any other reason. That would mean, of course, that governors must never act or decide in a way that makes them personally happy as a citizen, or as a wife or mother or daughter, and that they could only take actions or make decisions which left them feeling neutral or upset. This an incredibly shoddy tower of supposition, and a ridiculous misreading of the law.

Branchflower puts under a microscope every direct and indirect contact that can possibly be claimed to come, directly or indirectly, from Gov. Palin or her husband, Todd. In none of them did either Sarah or Todd Palin demand or request that Wooten be fired. Some of them date back to before Gov. Palin was even a candidate for governor. All of them are equally well explained by legitimate concerns that Wooten was a potential threat to the Palin family (having already made death threats against Gov. Palin's father) and/or an embarrassment to the Alaska Department of Public Safety and the entire state law enforcement community. That the Palins also had strong — and entirely understandable! — negative feelings about Trooper Wooten does not make any of these communications remotely improper, much less illegal.
More likely, however, Branchflower knows that his imaginary case will never be tested before any judge or jury — and instead, Branchflower's audience, and the audience of his political patron Sen. French, is a purely political one. They do not want you to read the 263 pages of his report, but I invite you to do so: By the end of it, you'll be thoroughly convinced that both Wooten and Monegan ought to have been fired!
No, indeed, Sen. French and Mr. Branchflower dearly hope most Americans won't look past the headlines generated by this ridiculous farce of a report. French and Branchflower hope that Americans will be misled into thinking this report is from someone whose judgment or opinions actually count for something — instead of being from a hitman hired to complete a political hatchet job, as it actually is.

Beldar also points to false reporting that the Alaska Legislature issued the finding. The Alaska Legislature is not in session.

*It is alleged, by several of the forcibly resigned 90 U.S. Attorneys, that part of Clinton's motive was to sweep out some U.S. Attorneys who were investigating and closing in on Whitewater and other possible criminal activities (fundraising, et al) by Clinton before he was elected. These fired U.S. Attorneys claim Clinton needed a large scale firing of U.S. Attorneys to cover his true motive: firing these specific U.S. Attorneys who were conducting investigations against him, and were uncovering evidence of wrongdoing.


BAC said...

WI State Journal, top of fold headlie in "Nation and World" section:

"Report: Palin abused power"
Investigator says governor violated ethics law

BAC said...

BTW - my "headlie" in the last post was a Freudian slip; I didn't catch it until it was posted

gcotharn said...

"headlie" is awesome! I'm stealing it.