- The Washington Times - Friday, October 10, 2008

Seeking to pre-empt a potentially damaging report from the Alaska State Legislature, the McCain campaign released its own report late Thursday concluding Republican vice-presidential candidate Alaska Sarah Palin did not abuse her authority when she fired her state’s top police officer.

The report from Alaska lawmakers is expected to be released later Friday.

The investigation focuses on allegations that Mrs. Palin dismissed the state’s public safety commissioner in 2007 because he refused to fire Trooper Michael Wooten, who had gone through a bitter divorce with Mrs. Palin’s sister.

The expected release of the report comes at a time when the presidential campaign of Arizona Sen. John McCain can ill afford any embarrassments or setbacks.

The McCain campaign’s report concluded Ms. Palin’s firing of public safety commissioner Walter Monegan was a legitimate policy decision.

“Walt Monegan’s dismissal was a result of his insubordination and budgetary clashes with Governor Palin and her administration,” the report said. “Trooper Wooten is a separate issue.”

The campaign concluded the theory that Mrs. Palin fired Mr. Monegan to settle a family score first appeared on a blog written by a former state representative who lost the governor’s race to Mrs. Palin in 2006.

The blogger, Andrew Halcro, posted the theory after meeting Mr. Wooten for drinks at the Sheraton Hotel bar in Anchorage, according to the campaign.

Mr. Monegan told the Associated Press on Thursday he was fired after resisting overtures from Ms. Palin’s husband, Todd Palin, and other top aides to fire Mr. Wooten.

“I just hope that the truth is figured out,” Monegan said. “That the governor did want me to fire him, and I chose to not. You just can’t walk up to someone and say, ‘I fire you.’ He didn’t do anything under my watch to result in termination.”

In an affidavit submitted to state lawmakers, Mr. Palin denied ever pressuring Mr. Monegan to fire Mr. Wooten. But Mr. Palin made no apologies for being alarmed by a trooper he considered out of control.

Mr. Palin said he had “hundreds” of conversations about Mr. Wooten with friends, family and state officials. At one point, he said, his wife told him to “drop it.”

The campaign’s report concluded Mr. Palin had good reason to worry about Mr. Wooten.

The report attacked Mr. Wooten, accusing him of “a long history of unstable and erratic behavior.” It said he drank beer in his police cruiser, used a stun gun on his 10-year-old stepson and threatened to kill a member of the Palin family.

“These events are not mere allegations, nor are they limited to the Palin family; in 2006, a formal review by the director of the Alaska State Troopers formally concluded that Wooten had engaged in these acts of misconduct, imposed punishment, and stated that a civilian found to have committed the same acts would have received criminal sanctions,” the campaign report concluded.

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