Troopergate: Palin was warned to stop "disparaging" sister's ex

The judge overseeing the divorce of Palin's sister and her husband, the state trooper now at the center of the scandal, compared verbal attacks on the trooper to "child abuse."

Published September 10, 2008 2:28PM (EDT)

Newsweek has now deepened the intrigue surrounding Sarah Palin's very own "Troopergate," a scandal centering around allegations that she fired Alaska's public safety commissioner because he wouldn't fire her former brother-in-law, Michael Wooten, a state trooper. The magazine has uncovered records from the divorce case between Palin's sister and her ex-husband, and the records show that for years, Palin and her family had been attacking Wooten's character and filing complaints with the state police about him.

The records, Newsweek's Mark Hosenball says,

show that during the course of divorce hearings three years ago, Judge John Suddock heard testimony from an official of the Alaska State Troopers' union about how Sarah Palin -- then a private citizen -- and members of her family, including her father and daughter, lodged up to a dozen complaints against Wooten with the state police. The union official told the judge that he had never before been asked to appear as a divorce-case witness, that the union believed family complaints against Wooten were "not job-related," and that Wooten was being "harassed" by Palin and other family members.

Judge Suddock also repeatedly expressed concern about what he termed the Palin family's "disparagement" of Wooten. "Disparaging will not be tolerated -- it is a form of child abuse," Suddock said at one hearing, adding, "Relatives cannot disparage either. If occurs [sic] the parent needs to set boundaries for their relatives." Hosenball reports that Suddock even considered restricting Palin's sister's custody rights regarding her children because of this disparagement.

Palin's conduct regarding Wooten and the former public safety commissioner is now the subject of an independent investigation.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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