Reality-based Republicans deserve a more honest, honorable, and qualified candidate to vote for this November.
The Anchorage Daily New:
Partisan diversion: Palin counterattacks instead of answering Troopergate questions
Gov. Sarah Palin’s handling of Troopergate is getting more and more troubling. She has reneged on her pledge, made before becoming the Republican vice-presidential nominee, to cooperate with the Legislature’s investigation. While stonewalling the independent inquiry, she is trying her side of the case in the press. Working on her behalf Monday, McCain-for-president operatives ripped into Walt Monegan and the legislators overseeing the inquiry.
Whatever happened to the “open and transparent” administration she promised Alaskans?
TWO BASIC QUESTIONS
What Alaskans and the rest of the country need from Gov. Palin is simple. They need an honest accounting on two questions:
- Did Gov. Palin force out public safety commissioner Walt Monegan because he would not fire her ex-brother-in-law from the troopers?
- In pursuing Gov. Palin’s concerns about trooper Mike Wooten, did she, Todd Palin or her staff improperly obtain confidential information about him?
McCAIN’S FRONTAL ASSAULT
The McCain campaign apparently fears honest answers to those questions. Monday, two campaign operatives held a press conference to stir up partisan hysteria about the investigation and assail Monegan as “insubordinate” and a “rogue.” It was the kind of full-frontal personal attack that is so common in Washington, D.C. While pledging to clean up the nation’s capital, the McCain campaign has brought Washington’s repulsive tactics here to us in Alaska. The McCain-Palin attack on Monegan left key questions unanswered.
- If he was so insubordinate, why did she offer him a different job in her administration?
- Why is aide Frank Bailey on a recording telling a trooper lieutenant, “she really likes Walt a lot,” before going on to say the lack of action on Wooten is “very, very troubling to her and the family.”
- How did Bailey get the information from Wooten’s workers’ compensation claim, as he stated on the recording?
Gov. Palin’s defenders have tried to discredit the Legislature’s investigation as a partisan witch hunt, even though it was launched with unanimous bipartisan support. The investigation’s project manager, Sen. Hollis French, gave them an opening by sharing accurate, but politically ill-advised observations about potential outcomes with reporters. Though a Democrat, French was one of Republican Gov. Palin’s most reliable supporters in her victories on ethics reform, oil tax reform and the gas line partnership with TransCanada. With his remarks, Sen. French lit a match and handed it to the McCain camp, which is trying to ignite a partisan firestorm that wipes out the whole investigation until after the election.
All the allegations about partisanship, though, are a typical political distraction. Sen. Hollis French is not the one interviewing witnesses, checking documents and issuing the findings. The investigation is being conducted by a retired prosecutor with a solid professional reputation, Steven Branchflower. Branchflower enjoyed significant Republican support in the Legislature when he ran the Office of Victims Rights and proposed laws to help crime victims. It’s just not credible to claim that all of a sudden, he’s a partisan hack being manipulated by Team Obama.
In Gov. Palin’s defense, she can fairly point out that Monegan has changed his account of why he thinks he was fired. Initially, he said he didn’t know why. Later, he said he felt pressured to fire Wooten and his failure to do so could be part of the explanation. He now says he thinks the refusal to fire Wooten “was a significant factor if not the factor.”
Of course, the charge of changing stories can be leveled against Gov. Palin. First she said she wanted a “different direction” for the department. Then she criticized Monegan’s management because he failed to fill vacant trooper positions — even though he could not single-handedly change the salary and working conditions that hinder recruitment. Now, she says Monegan was an insubordinate rogue.
Alaskans and the rest of the country need to know the truth of what happened in Troopergate. And to get the truth, they need answers from Gov. Palin, her staff and her husband — before the November election.
BOTTOM LINE: Palin and McCain are trying to ignite a partisan firestorm that wipes out the Troopergate investigation until after the election.