McCain camp responds to Troopergate report

Sarah Palin denies that she abused her power, while a campaign spokeswoman derides the investigation as partisan.

By Alex Koppelman
Published October 11, 2008 5:45PM (EDT)

The McCain campaign has now responded to the report of the investigation into Troopergate. The scandal arose from Sarah Palin's firing of Walt Monegan, her state's public safety commissioner, and a question of whether that move was related to Monegan's refusal to fire state trooper Mike Wooten, Palin's former brother-in-law.

Naturally, the McCain camp is not exactly taking the more negative conclusions of the report lying down.

Spokeswoman Meg Stapleton released this statement:

Today's report shows that the Governor acted within her proper and lawful authority in the reassignment of Walt Monegan. The report also illustrates what we've known all along: this was a partisan led inquiry run by Obama supporters and the Palins were completely justified in their concern regarding Trooper Wooten given his violent and rogue behavior. Lacking evidence to support the original Monegan allegation, the Legislative Council seriously overreached, making a tortured argument to find fault without basis in law or fact. The Governor is looking forward to cooperating with the Personnel Board and continuing her conversation with the American people regarding the important issues facing the country.

Palin herself addressed the matter in a conversation with reporters. Asked if she abused her power -- the report concludes that she did -- she responded simply, "No," then said, "And if you read the report, you’ll see that there was nothing unlawful or unethical about replacing a Cabinet member. You got to read the report, sir.”

She is right that the report also concludes she acted within her power in firing the commissioner. However, the report also seriously damages one of her key claims about what happened -- namely, that she and other members of her family feared Wooten. Lead investigator Steven Branchflower, a former prosecutor, writes:

Governor Palin has stated publically that she and her family feared Trooper Wooten. Yet the evidence presented has been inconsistent with such claims of fear ... I conclude that such claims of fear were not bona fide and were offered to provide cover for the Palin's real motivation: to get Trooper Wooten fired for personal family related reasons.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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