Thursday, July 17, 2008

Andrew Halcro Blows The Whistle On Why Sarah Palin Fired Walt Monegan; Funding Fights, Abuse Of Power And Nepotism?

Note: Click HERE to read all posts about the Monegan firing. The most recent post will appear first.

Respected Alaska blogger Andrew Halcro, a former member of the Alaska State House and a former Independent gubernatorial candidate in the 2006 election, has revealed some disconcerting information about the sudden departure of former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. Not only does Halcro confirm unofficial reports of a conflict between Palin and Monegan regarding public safety funding, but he also unveils some disturbing allegations of abuse of power and possible nepotism on the part of Governor Sarah Palin, who still has stubbornly refused to reveal why she wanted to "take public safety in a different direction" and why Walt Monegan was not the person to whom she could entrust this task.

This story has now showed up on You can read my previous posts on this issue for background HERE and HERE. You can read Andrew Halcro's full post HERE. Here are the highlights, summarized below:

Budget Battles: Walt Monegan was asked to agree to budget cuts for public safety. According to the Legislative Finance Agency, the public safety budget in FY09 was cut by .06% while the governor's own budget increased 22.6%. Monegan objected because the State Troopers were already being overextended and public safety suffering. In addition, fuel costs for planes, boats and patrol vehicles were skyrocketing, while crime in rural Alaska was increasing demands on the Troopers transportation system. In addition, Governor Palin had a reputation for ducking in-person meetings with Monegan; since Monegan's appointment in 2007, Palin had spent less than one hour in face to face discussions with him about critical public safety issues in Alaska.

Abuse of Power and Nepotism: These two are intertwined because they involve eight-year veteran Trooper Mike Wooten, who was married to Sarah Palin's younger sister, Molly. Apparently, pressure was applied to Walt Monegan to fire Wooten because of a number of "complaints" against him. In 2004, Wooten decided to divorce his wife Molly due to irreconcilable differences. the differences between he and his wife Molly of four years had grown to the point of being irreconcilable. Beginning in spring of 2005 and for the next ten months, 25 formal complaints were filed by Palin and Heath family members against Wooten, ranging from drinking while driving his patrol car to making threats to shooting a moose without a permit. Internal investigations rebutted all but one complaint.

But that's not all. It has since been discovered that confidential material in Wooten's Administrative Investigation file had been released to his ex-wife and her attorney. This drew outrage from the Public Safety Union as well as the Commissioner. AI files are strictly confidential and can only be released with the written signature of the Trooper, but yet no one could explain how the detailed confidential information was released. Copies of a number of these files are now accessible via KTVA Channel 11.

In deference to Monegan's vocal concerns about the growing problems in rural Alaska due to alcohol and drug abuse, Governor Palin tried to throw him a bone by offering him the directorship of the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control board. Monegan, recognizing the gambit for what it was, wisely refused.

Since I began this post, Dan Fagan has revealed on his afternoon radio show on KFQD that Governor Palin has issued a statement addressing this issue; the full text is now posted on Alaska Politics. Palin denies authorizing the release of any files or orchestrating any campaign against Wooten; indeed, Dan Fagan has just announced that he received documents indicating that Wooten authorized the release of his files. She denies interfering in the day-to-day operations of any department, which may be an indirect way of claiming that she never directed Monegan for fire Wooten. She also claims she has asked for an increase in the State Troopers' budget (the numbers presented earlier rebut this notion). She claims all of this is designed to distract attention from Alaska's "real" issue; energy.

What Dan Fagan also wants, and I agree wholeheartedly, is for Walt Monegan to come out himself and issue a statement about these issues. While he is understandably pissed off about his firing, he needs to either confirm this account if true, or rebut it if false. The reputation of the state's Governor is on the line. I believe Monegan will do the right thing and publicly address these allegations, and I elect to reserve further judgement until we hear from him, even though Andrew Halcro has a solid reputation for blogging integrity and by his own admission, looks for corroboration from at least two sources before publishing a story. When you read his post, read the comments as well; 100+ have been appended, and many are quite educational.

In any event, Governor Palin still needs to be held accountable for the sloppy way in which she handled this issue. It alone should disqualify her from further consideration to be John McCain's running mate, even if her reputation as Governor is preserved.

1 comment:

  1. Just wanted to say hello to a fellow Alaskan. Please check out my radio program at Blog Talk Radio. Alaskan commentary on Alaskan issues.