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Trooper at center of Palin-era 'Troopergate' controversy no longer on the force

Lisa Demer

The Alaska State Trooper at the center of the Palin-era "Troopergate" controversy is no longer a trooper.

Trooper Mike Wooten's state employment ended on Wednesday, according to information from the state Division of Personnel and Labor Relations.

His last post was in the Western Alaska village of Emmonak, 10 miles from the Bering Sea at the mouth of the Yukon River.

Under state law, only limited information about state employees is public. Officials cannot say why he left, according to Kate Sheehan, the state's deputy director of labor relations.

The state calls an employee leaving a "separation," which includes resignation, termination or retirement, she said.

Efforts to reach Wooten on Friday through the Public Safety Employees Association were unsuccessful.

Wooten started as a trooper recruit in 2001 making $39,432 a year. His pay at the end was $129,790 a year, according to the personnel division. That salary reflects the 50 percent geographic boost he received for being posted in Emmonak, Sheehan said.

Questions about Wooten's position as a trooper emerged into public view when Sarah Palin was governor. He went through a bitter divorce with Palin's sister and was the target of complaints to troopers by Palin and her family starting in 2005, before she became governor. After her election in 2006, Palin's husband, Todd, and aides pressured her public safety commissioner and others to fire Wooten.

Two investigations examined whether Palin had abused her power by firing her public safety commissioner when Wooten stayed on the job -- one found she did, and the other, that she didn't.

Back in 2008, Wooten allowed his union to release the results of an internal trooper investigation based on the Palin family complaints. The investigation found that he had used a Taser on his stepson, illegally shot a moose, drank beer in his patrol car at least once and made a threat against his father-in-law. He also was written up or disciplined for minor infractions, including a speeding ticket.

Reach Lisa Demer at ldemer@adn.com or 257-4390.

 


By LISA DEMER
ldemer@adn.com
Contact Lisa Demer at LDemer@adn.com or on