Fired official asked Palin about her car seat use with Trig

Anchorage Daily NewsOctober 9, 2008 

Todd Palin talked with over a dozen state officials, many of them repeatedly, in his crusade to get a state trooper fired who he considered to be a bad cop, a dishonest person and a threat to the Palin family, according to his sworn statement given Wednesday to a legislative investigator.

The 25-page statement from Gov. Sarah Palin’s husband, in response to questions submitted by the investigator, shows that Todd Palin's efforts started before his wife became governor and accelerated during the first 19 months of her administration.

He also suggested there was bad blood between the governor and fired Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan over two other matters:

-- An inquiry from Monegan to the governor about whether she once failed to put her Trig, her infant, in a car seat while she was driving.

-- The unavailability of a state trooper airplane for the governor's use when traveling to the Alaska's rural areas.

On the car seat matter, Monegan sent an e-mail to the governor on June 30, 12 days before he lost his job, that said: "Via a soon-to-be-retiring legislator, we received a complaint that had you driving with Trig not in an approved car seat; if this is so that would be awkward in many ways."

The governor fired back from her private e-mail account: "I've never driven Trig anywhere without a new, approved carseat. I want to know who said otherwise — pls provide me that info now."

Todd Palin, in his sworn statement, said this was a "false rumor," and that the governor was a passenger in a truck, "on a private farm road without traffic at low speed."

On the trooper airplane, "It seemed that whenever Sarah needed this plane, it was unavailable," Todd Palin said. "We were concerned that the Department of Public Safety was retaliating against Sarah for selling the Murkowski jet that Department of Public Safety officials enjoyed using." In 2007, the governor sold a jet her predecessor, Frank Murkowski, bought in a controversial defiance of the Legislature.

Todd Palin was waging the campaign against his ex-brother-in-law, State Trooper Mike Wooten, who had divorced the governor’s sister in 2006 and who is involved in an on-going custody fight.

Two investigations — one by the Legislature and one by the state personnel board — are under way over whether Gov. Palin or members of her administration abused their powers in pushing for Wooten’s firing, and whether their efforts resulted in the governor's dismissal of Monegan in July.

The Legislature ordered its investigation in late July, and until this week Todd Palin and officials of the governor’s administration resisted subpoenas to tell what they know about Troopergate. Palin’s statement Wednesday comes after a state judge last week refused to invalidate the subpoenas.

In his statement, Palin is unapologetic about his efforts to get Wooten fired, but he says he doesn’t think those efforts had anything to do with Monegan's dismissal. He said his understanding is that Monegan lost his job due to a "dispute with the governor and her staff over budget issues and failure to fill trooper vacancies."

In his statement, Palin repeatedly discusses his quest to get Wooten dismissed, but said he never told Monegan to fire Wooten. He said Wooten threatened Palin's father-in-law, bullied people as a trooper, drove in his trooper car after drinking, improperly used his trooper car to shuttle his kids and falsified a workers' comp claim. Wooten was suspended for five days in 2006 after troopers investigated complaints against him.

"I had hundreds of conversations and communications about Trooper Wooten over the last several years with my family, with friends, with colleagues, and with just about everyone I could — including government officials," Palin said.

"I talked about Wooten so much over the years that my wife told me to stop talking about it with her."

He said by taking his concerns to Monegan he was following the instructions regular citizens get for complaining about troopers.

"There is absolutely nothing improper about lodging concerns about Trooper Wooten with Monegan or his predecessor — complaints about State Troopers are supposed to go to the Commissioner," he said.

"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 worker compensation system. 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."

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