Threats to Wooten concern troopers

PHONE CALLS: Palin's ex-relative reassigned after local, Outside messages.

November 15, 2008 

The state trooper behind the abuse-of-power investigations of Gov. Sarah Palin is getting a reassignment this Sunday following threatening telephone calls to his employer.

Mike Wooten has been on desk duty for his own protection in recent weeks after troopers began receiving hostile calls from Alaskans and people outside the state, according to public safety union officials.

Callers said things like "If I ever see Trooper Wooten on the road, I'm not going to let him stop me," according to union director John Cyr.

Wooten gained national recognition because of past family ties to Palin, the unsuccessful Republican vice presidential nominee.

On the campaign trail, Palin was under intense scrutiny for the firing of her public safety commissioner. She was accused of booting him out because he wouldn't fire Wooten, who was involved in a contentious divorce from her sister.

Palin said the commissioner's firing had nothing to do with Wooten. She was cleared of ethics violations by the state personnel board last week. A separate legislative investigation concluded Palin did abuse her office by allowing her husband and staff members to pressure the commissioner to fire Wooten.

"It was clear there was a lot of feeling and misdirected feeling among the public," Cyr said Friday of the phone calls received by troopers. "The department came to us. There were worries about Mike's safety. We agreed -- and Mike agreed -- to do paperwork until after the election."

Cyr said Wooten's recent duties included evidence logging and filling out reports. His new role begins Sunday.

Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said Wooten will be reassigned from the Palmer post to the judicial services bureau in Anchorage. The new job could include overseeing prisoner transports, issuing warrants and assisting in fugitive transfers, Peters said.

"It doesn't mean he's stuck in a corner somewhere," she said.

Palin's spokesman, Bill McAllister, said the governor's office was not aware of the reassignment plans and was unable to comment on it.

"It's probably not appropriate of us to second-guess such a decision," he said. "It's not something the governor's office micromanages."

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