What the Troopergate Report Really Says

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Left to Right: Brian Snyder / Reuters ; Al Grillo / AP

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten.

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Another amateurish sign: Todd Palin's outsize role in the mess. Branchflower said it was out of his jurisdiction to pass judgment on the First Gentleman, but his report paints an extralegal role for Todd Palin that would have made the Hillary Clinton of 1992 blush. In the report, the head of Gov. Palin's security detail says that Todd spent about half of his time in the governor's office — not at a desk (he didn't have one), but at a long conference table on one side of the office, with his own phone to make and receive calls. It became a shadow office, the informal Department of Getting Mike Wooten Fired.

It was at that long table that Todd Palin first scheduled a meeting with Walt Monegan, days after his wife's administration began. He showed Monegan three huge binders of evidence against Wooten, including a picture of a dead moose that had been shot illegally. After Monegan came back saying that there was no new actionable information, Todd began a very visible campaign of stewing and fuming, trying to get access to personnel files, calling up and down the Public Safety org chart.

The report also raises the suggestion that the final incident that led to Monegan's firing was perhaps the most (unintentionally) hilarious part of the whole saga. In the run-up to Alaska's 2008 Police Memorial Day event, Monegan visited Palin in Anchorage and brought along an official portrait of a state trooper in uniform, saluting in front of the police memorial in Anchorage, for Palin to sign and present at the event. The trooper? Mike Wooten.

Palin signed the photo and didn't say anything, according to Monegan's testimony, but later cancelled her attendance at the event, sending Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell in her place. The head of her Anchorage office followed up with a call to Monegan berating him for his insensitivity. (Monegan swears he didn't know it was Wooten in the picture, and that he didn't even know what Wooten looked like.)

Shortly after that incident, Monegan's fate was cast. But even then, Palin's staffers were blithely adding more evidence to Troopergate. When Monegan's potential successor, Chuck Kopp, asked Bailey, the Palin staffer, why Monegan was being fired, he was told simply: "Todd is really upset with Monegan."

So what does this say about the possible Vice-President of the United States? Certainly not as much as her enemies would have hoped. She was only directly involved in a small bit of the pressure campaign — a meeting or two and a couple of emails. She can thank Monegan for not having her hands dirtier; it was he who told her to keep herself at "arm's length" from any Wooten conversations.

But even though she won't likely face any legal repercussions, the amateurism and cronyism of her brief administration hardly leaves Palin sitting pretty. Troopergate's final verdict may be even more damaging than a rebuke: her administration was, at least this regard, just as self-motivated as the Washington fat cats and lobbyists she hopes to unseat.

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