TROOPERGATE FINALE….I read most of the Branchflower report on Troopergate last night, but the MSM seemed to be doing a fine job of reporting the results all its own so I never got around to posting about it. The basic story, of course, revolves around Todd and Sarah Palin’s crusade to get their ex-brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, fired from his job as a state trooper, and their efforts to get Alaska’s Commissioner of Public Safety, Walt Monegan, to do the firing. Most of this story is pretty well known already. However, Time’s Nathan Thornburgh points out the aspect of the report that struck me as the most remarkable:
The result is not a mortal wound to Palin….But the Branchflower report still makes for good reading, if only because it convincingly answers a question nobody had even thought to ask: Is the Palin administration shockingly amateurish? Yes, it is. Disturbingly so.
The 263 pages of the report show a co-ordinated application of pressure on Monegan so transparent and ham-handed that it was almost certain to end in public embarrassment for the governor.
….Monegan and his peers constantly warned these Palin disciples that the contact was inappropriate and probably unlawful. Still, the emails and calls continued — in at least one instance on recorded state trooper phone lines.
The state’s head of personnel, Annette Kreitzer, called Monegan and had to be warned that personnel issues were confidential. The state’s attorney general, Talis Colberg, called Monegan and had to be reminded that the call was putting both men in legal jeopardy, should Wooten decide to sue. The governor’s chief of staff met with Monegan and had to be reminded by Monegan that, “This conversation is discoverable … You don’t want Wooten to own your house, do you?”
Monegan pointed out to a steady stream of people that (a) Wooten was protected by civil service and there was nothing more that could be done since he’d already gone through a formal disciplinary procedure, and (b) any conversation about Wooten was discoverable in court if Wooten ever got tired of being hounded and decided to file a civil suit. And yet the contacts kept coming and coming and coming — and coming and coming. And Branchflower documents them in painful detail. It’s all quite remarkable.
In fact, here’s the part that really puzzles me: what exactly did Todd and Sarah Palin hope to accomplish? Surely they knew perfectly well that Monegan was right: he couldn’t have fired Wooten even if he wanted to. And they must also have known that even if Monegan were replaced, any replacement would quickly check into the situation and report back the same thing. Wooten had already been disciplined, and unless something new cropped up there was simply nothing that anyone could do to force him out of his job. In fact, the Palins’ efforts probably made it nearly impossible even to reassign Wooten since it would so obviously have been politically motivated. It was a completely futile crusade they were on.
So what were they thinking? Or were they?