Todd Palin campaigned years to get trooper fired

SWORN STATEMENT: He says he wanted to protect his family.

October 8, 2008 

Todd Palin talked with over a dozen state officials, many of them repeatedly, in his crusade to get a state trooper fired whom 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.

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 ongoing 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 her public safety commissioner, Walt 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. The Daily News obtained the statement from Thomas Van Flein, an attorney for Todd and Sarah Palin.

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."

He also suggested there was bad blood between the governor and 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 Bush.

On the car seat, 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 car seat. 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.

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 worker's compensation claim. Wooten was suspended for five days in 2006 after troopers investigated complaints against him.

"We had a lot of conversations about a guy who threatened my family and verbally assaulted my daughter. We talked about my concerns. We talked about Wooten possibly pulling over one of my kids to frame them, like throwing a bag of dope in the back seat just to frame a Palin," he said of his conversations with one Palin aide.

"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."


Contact Bill White at bwhite@adn.com or 257-4311

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