Kopp to release personnel file

July 18, 2008 

Department of Public Safety Commissioner Chuck Kopp said today he will release his personnel file from the Kenai Police Department.

Kopp, who has been at the center of a political firestorm, said he will release the file to dispel rumors of a history of sexual harassment.

"I am not ashamed of my past," he said.

Kopp became the center of attention after Gov. Sarah Palin abruptly fired Walt Monegan last Friday from the commissioner's job and then appointed him. The governor has said she wants change in the leadership of the department and wants to take it in a new direction, but hasn't said why the department needed fixing.

Palin has been accused by a former political rival, Andrew Halcro, of making the change in part because Monegan wouldn't fire a trooper with whom her family has had a contentious relationship. The trooper and Palin's sister, Molly McCann, had a bitter divorce in 2005 and continue to have ongoing custody battles over their children.

Palin vigorously denies that her replacement of Monegan had anything to do with her dislike of trooper Mike Wooten, her ex-brother in law.

Kopp has been accused by a former employee of sexually harassing her with unwanted hugs and a kiss on the cheek in 2005. That employee says a Kenai city investigation confirmed her version of events.

Her lawyer, Chuck Robinson, today said he also believed the city investigation substantiated the harassment.

The Palin administration looked into the 2005 charge and said it learned that it was unsubstantiated, according to governor spokeswoman Sharon Leighow.

Kopp wanted to dispel another rumor also: He said he was never friends with Palin or any of her family. He first met Palin when she was campaigning for governor in July 2006 in Kenai. Later, Palin made him the head of her Department of Public Safety transition team. Kopp said he also served on former Gov. Frank Murkowski's transition team.

The past week has been tough on the new commissioner and his family, including his wife of 21 years, he said.

"I was really set back on my heels," he said. "It's been painful."

Kopp says he plans no major changes in the administration of the department. Special assistant Lauren Rice, who worked closely with Monegan, however, is leaving.

Kopp says he told Rice he would likely be looking to make changes in the future, and she decided to resign. Rice says she was dismissed. She also said morale at the department is down with employees trying to figure out why the governor replaced Monegan.

Find Megan Holland online at adn.com/contact/mholland or call 257-4343.

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