Friday, September 05, 2008

CNN Video: Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten Speaks Out, Bears No Ill Will Towards Sarah Palin, Excited About Her Candidacy

CNN has just posted a video interview with Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten, who is speaking out publicly for the first time. Wooten states that he bears no ill will towards Sarah Palin, and that he's actually excited about her candidacy for Vice-President, but is unhappy that his divorce and subsequent child custody battle has become national headlines. During the interview, he acknowledges that he's made mistakes, but denies that he ever threatened anyone's life. The documentation and disposition of all the complaints against Wooten can be found HERE (identified as "Document 5" on the KTVA Channel 11 website). CNN video embedded below:

The accompanying CNN story offers more information. In 2006, state investigators found Wooten guilty of "a significant pattern of judgment failures," including using a Taser on his 10-year-old stepson and drinking beer while operating a state trooper vehicle. Wooten was suspended for 10 days as "a last chance to take corrective action." [Ed. Note: Walt Monegan subsequently halved the suspension to five days.]

Wooten describes the Taser incident. He said that he was a new Taser instructor, and his stepson was asking him about the equipment. "I didn't shoot him with live, you know, actual live cartridge," Wooten said. Instead, he said, he hooked his stepson up to a training aid "with little clips. And, you know, the Taser was activated for less than a second, which would be less than what you would get if you touched an electric fence. ... It was as safe as I could possibly make it." He said his stepson was on the living room floor surrounded by pillows, that he "was bragging about it," and that the family laughed about it. But in retrospect, he ackowledges it was a dumb decision.

The father of three, who was married four times, told CNN, "I'm trying to move on and be the best dad I can to my children. Be the best trooper that I can be. You know, I love my job. I love this state." He added that McCain's choice of Palin as his running mate was "absolutely wonderful for the state of Alaska."

Commentary: As Troopergate continues to unfold, we are getting a picture of a person, Sarah Palin, who became fixated with Trooper Wooten's behavior out of an original and honest concern for the safety and well-being of her sister. She became convince that Wooten should not be a trooper. Upon becoming Governor, this concern was renewed. Because she surrounded herself with cheerleaders and froze out critical thinkers in her administration, there was no one to immediately throw up a stop sign when she became tempted to use her power to lobby Commissioner Monegan to "do something about Trooper Wooten". Anne Kilkenny, a lady in Wasilla who's known Palin personally since 1992, discloses that Palin had the same problem when she was mayor. While there's no direct evidence yet that she did the lobbying personally, Todd Palin and Frank Bailey started doing the lobbying on her behalf.

Sarah Palin did NOT start out with the intent to abuse her power. But the lack of "devil's advocates" in her administration prevented her from getting warning as to when she was about to cross the line. Consequently, Sarah Palin may have crossed the line without intention or understanding. I've maintained all along that Sarah Palin was simply incompetent and emotional, rather than being a crook, and I continue to believe that Governor Palin had no malicious intent. Unfortunately, notwithstanding her intent, Troopergate risks eroding her political credibility in this state. The Palinbots may have stars in their eyes right now, but what happens when the afterglow wears off? Alaskans can be a vengeful and opportunistic people. Remember how Alaskans turned viciously against Frank Murkowski?

It could happen again unless Sarah Palin decides its time for full, unfettered disclosure. Full cooperation with the Branchflower investigation is necessary.

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