Twists and turns

The Anchorage Daily News is reporting this morning that Governor Sarah Palin has now pledged to cooperate with the Personnel Board's investigation into troopergate. As you may recall, just last week her attorney filed a motion to have the personnel board complaint dismissed for lack of probable cause. Before that, Palin sparked the Personnel Board's investigation by filing an ethics complaint against herself in an attempt to change venue and avoid the independent investigation authorized by the Legislative Council.

Addendum: CNN falls hook line and sinker for the gambit. Under the headline "Palin 'ready to cooperate' in firing probe, lawyer says" their lead for the story is "Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's lawyer met Monday with the independent counsel hired by the state to discuss the investigation into Palin's firing of Alaska's public safety commissioner, campaign officials said." That almost makes it sound as if Palin is cooperating with a real investigation rather than running her own pseudo-investigation as part and parcel of her ongoing attempt to cover-up the truth of the matter.

Bonus Content: Palin's truth squad takes Troopergate questions:

The new talking point appears to be, "Governor Palin is an open book."

...also worth noting, the truth squad (it's actually GOP fixer Ed O'Callaghan and McCain spokesperson Meg Stapleton), keeps emphasizing that the seemingly debunked insubordination charge. I think what this shows is that a lot depends on how narrowly you define the scope of the investigation. If the question addressed is narrowed to, did Governor Palin exceed her authority by firing Commissioner Monegan -- excluding, that is, all questions about whether Palin coordinated a campaign to pressure Monegan to perform an illegal act, and whether this was part of a more general pattern -- then those staff emails emails would seem to establish a prima facie cause for the firing and, as a matter of law, that might serve as a complete defense for Palin. The defense relies crucially on Palin's office being so out of control that she can't exert effective oversight over her chief of staff, but whatever.

One more thing: Over at TPMMuckraker, Zachary Roth seems to second -- albeit with reservations -- the Associated Press's analysis that, "the probe is effectively killed until January, when Sarah Palin will either be vice president or return to the governor's mansion in Juneau."

I don't think so. To begin with, I'm not sure how important the statements of those witnesses would have been to the investigation. Most had already made sworn statements to Colberg, and those statements are in Branchflower's hands. My understanding is that Branchflower was provided with Frank Bailey's cell phone records, which were the only documents subpoenaed. Moreover, if the report explains the missing testimony by dispassionately laying out the facts of the cover-up -- just as French did the other day -- then the absence of testimony may prove damaging in itself. Especially if, as seems likely, Branchflower is able to show that some of the statements given to Colberg are materially false or incomplete.

The important thing to keep in mind how much wrongdoing we know to be on the record. DPS records all incoming calls, so Branchflower has tapes of numerous calls from the Governor's staff -- especially Bailey -- about Wooten. The calls themselves show a pattern of pressure to have Wooten fired, but it goes further than that. Among the fruit of those recordings is evidence that the governor's staff had improperly accessed confidential information contained in Wooten's personnel file, and that the governor's staff interceded in a workers compensation proceeding. We also know that this pattern of wrongdoing goes beyond Frank Bailey, at least as far as Todd Palin who, even according to the official defense, passed a copy of Wooten's personnel file to Bailey. For those keeping score, that's a pattern of illegal acts, a conspiracy, and a cover-up.

No comments:

Post a Comment

eXTReMe Tracker