Troopergate is all about getting even, not justice

September 20, 2008 

The reason Gov. Palin has abandoned her truth and transparent, open and honest aura with her foolish and obvious coverup and trail of lies is simple. Troopergate is not about trying to get her ex-brother-in-law, trooper Mike Wooten, fired. It's not even about the firing of her Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. Troopergate is about something the public has not yet picked up on.

Alaskans can relate to and understand the governor going around, above or outside the law to do something about a rogue cop she believes a danger to the public. Even if that same cop was embroiled in a contentious child custody suit with her sister.

The majority of Alaskans are looking past the governor trying to avoid facing an independent investigator and instead shifting it to a board she appoints that rarely meets.

They also are overlooking the silliness of her filing a complaint with that board against herself and later filing to have that same complaint dismissed, saying there is no merit to it.

The public doesn't seem too upset with the governor's attorney general, Talis Colberg, an accomplice in this case, someone who had previously recused himself but then dove right back in, instructing state employees to break the law by ignoring subpoenas.

They are even willing to go along with Colberg going on vacation and leaving the department in the capable hands of the McCain campaign.

Most Alaskans don't seem to mind all the changing of stories, obvious delay tactics, coverups and pure obstruction of justice because they believe Palin was acting in the state's best interest when she, her husband and her staff over and over and over and over again told former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan and other trooper management how disappointed and confused they were Wooten was still on the job.

So why would the governor sacrifice her reputation as an honest and different kind of politician just to cover the fact that she was doing something for the public good? Why do she and her new handlers in the McCain camp believe there is something in Troopergate that could cost them the election?

The real damage to Palin from Troopergate comes with an injury claim involving trooper Wooten when he hurt his back while in the line of duty.

Independent investigator Steve Branchflower testified recently he believes someone in the governor's office tried to block Wooten's workers' compensation injury benefits.

Harbor Adjustment Services, the company hired by the state to process, evaluate and decide on workers' benefit claims, had great financial incentive in bowing to pressure from the governor to deny Wooten's injury claim.

Obviously, the state is Harbor Adjustment Services' largest client. The owner of the company denies the governor's office pressured her to deny Wooten's benefits. Why wouldn't she? Ratting out the governor could cost her the lucrative state contract.

But Branchflower says an employee with Harbor Adjustment Services contradicts the owner and has testified the governor's office did apply pressure to deny Wooten his benefits.

Branchflower says the unnamed employee testified, "I don't, you know, care if it's the president who wants the claim denied. I'm not going to deny it unless I have the medical evidence to do that,"

We know the governor's office was very interested in Wooten. Dianne Kiesel, a state employee with the Department of Administration, tells me former Palin chief of staff Mike Tibbles instructed her to walk Wooten's personnel file over to the governor's office.

And there is the governor's aide, Frank Bailey, caught on tape admitting he has information that came from Wooten's workers' comp file.

The very file that includes pictures, taken by none other than Todd Palin, of Wooten riding a snowmachine trying to prove the trooper was not injured.

Here's why this is all so damaging to the governor. It's one thing to try to get a trooper fired because you believe he is a danger to the public. But using your considerable power as governor to block the benefits of a former family member you have a long-running dispute with moves this scandal into a new realm.

It becomes about one thing and one thing only, revenge. Not public good, but settling a score.

Dan Fagan is a radio talk show host on KFQD, 750 AM. E-mail Dan at

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