The husband of Republican vice-presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said it was he - not his wife - who pushed state police to investigate a trooper who had gone through a bitter divorce with Mrs. Palin’s sister.
Todd Palin’s statements were included in an affidavit as part of an investigation by Alaska lawmakers into whether Mrs. Palin inappropriately dismissed the state’s public safety commissioner because he would not fire Trooper Michael Wooten.
Mrs. Palin said she fired the public safety commissioner, Walter Monegan, over a budgetary dispute.
A report from Alaska state lawmakers into whether Mrs. Palin abused her power to settle a family score is expected to be released Friday. But the McCain campaign pre-empted the report by issuing its own findings on Thursday night, clearing the vice-presidential pick of any wrongdoing.
“The following document will prove Walt Monegan’s dismissal was a result of his insubordination and budgetary clashes with Governor Palin and her administration,” campaign officials wrote. “Trooper Wooten is a separate issue.”
In his affidavit to the state legislative panel, Mr. Palin said he had hundreds of conversations in recent years with friends, family and state officials about what he considered threats and emotional abuse from Mr. Wooten.
“I talked about Wooten so much over the years that my wife told me to stop talking about it with her,” Mr. Palin said. “Sarah told me to ‘drop it’ and stop talking about the issue, and I discussed it much less often.”
But Mr. Palin offered no apologies, calling Mr. Wooten a “threat” to his family.
He said he took pictures of Mr. Wooten using a snowmobile when he was out of work collecting disability payments. When he became concerned that state troopers were not diligently investigating accusations against Mr. Wooten, he and his wife retained a private investigator to conduct witness interviews.
“I make no apologies for wanting to protect my family and wanting to publicize the injustice of a violent trooper keeping his badge and abusing the workers’ compensation system,” he said. “The real investigation that needs to be conducted for the best interests of the public at large is the Department of Public Safety’s unwillingness to discipline its own.”
Mr. Palin said he never pressured his wife. “Anyone who knows Sarah knows she is the governor, and she calls the shots,” he said.
Similarly, he said, he never asked Mr. Monegan to fire Mr. Wooten.
“I told him he needed to be aware of a trooper that had threatened my family,” Mr. Palin said. “Since Monegan was the top cop in the state, I wanted to make sure he had all the information about Wooten’s history in case something happened to a member of the Palin family or the general public” at Mr. Wooten’s hands.
The campaign’s report, released to reporters Thursday night, blames former Palin gubernatorial campaign opponent Andrew Halcro of conspiring with Mr. Wooten to pin Mr. Monegan’s dismissal on the Wooten-Palin dispute. Three days after Mr. Monegan was fired, the McCain team said, Mr. Wooten told his ex-wife, Mrs. Palin’s sister: “You guys are going down. Get ready for the show.”
Two days after that confrontation, they say, Mr. Halcro and Mr. Wooten met at a hotel bar in Anchorage for more than three hours. That evening, Mr. Halcro posted the first accusations on his blog that Mr. Monegan had been fired because of a Palin family vendetta against Mr. Wooten.
“It is tragic that a false story hatched by a blogger after drinks with Trooper Wooten led the legislature to allocate over $100,000 of public money to be spent in what has become a politically driven investigation,” the 21-page report concludes.
Republicans in the state Legislature had pushed to stop the release of the report, saying the investigation had become too political. But the state Supreme Court sided against them Thursday, clearing the way for the release of the Legislature’s report.
The state’s personnel board is also investigating, and Mrs. Palin has said she thinks that inquiry is more appropriate.
cThis article is based in part on wire service reports.