By Brendan Miniter
The Wall Street Journal's POLITICAL DIARY ONLINE
13 October 08
Gov. Sarah Palin has been asking reporters to actually read the Alaska state government report issued over the weekend that supposedly found she had abused her power in seeking the dismissal of Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten. And indeed, the report is more favorable to Mrs. Palin than much of the reporting has suggested. Mrs. Palin and her husband Todd did likely push for Mr. Wooten to be fired. But Special Prosecutor Stephen Branchflower was originally asked to look into whether Mrs. Palin violated state laws by firing her Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, who claimed that he was let go for refusing to oust Mr. Wooten. Mr. Branchflower determined that, in fact, the governor was within her rights to fire Mr. Monegan.
What's more, the recommendations Mr. Branchflower makes are largely favorable to Mrs. Palin. She had warned that Mr. Wooten, her ex-brother-in-law, was too unstable to be a police officer and had posed a threat the Palin family. Mr. Branchflower discounts the family's personal safety concerns, but recommends that the legislature create procedures so those who file complaints about police officers are informed about what steps are subsequently taken. Throughout the Wooten affair, the Palins had expressed frustration that no one could tell them what disciplinary action had been taken against Mr. Wooten (which likely led to the impression they were pressuring state officials). The report also notes that the original complaint filed against Mr. Wooten came from Chuck Heath, Mrs. Palin's father, who reported being concerned about an alleged threat by Mr. Wooten to kill him.
The report is a compilation of sordid details surrounding a messy episode in Alaska. Democrat Sen. Hollis French, who oversaw the special out-of-session legislative committee that ordered the investigation, insisted it be completed and released before Election Day. The report seems to rely on an assumption that Mrs. Palin wasn't really concerned about her personal safety, because she had reduced the size of her security detail -- never mind that she had campaigned partly on trimming back gubernatorial perks and pomp and had acted on those promises in other ways too. The report is available online (http://media.adn.com/smedia/