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Troopergate Investigator: Palin 'Unlawfully Abused Her Authority'

The news isn't good for the Republican vice presidential nominee -- and is an unpleasant reminder of the power abuses of the Bush years.
 
 
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A news round-up on the report suggesting Sarah Palin violated state ethics laws:

From the Guardian: "John McCain's election campaign suffered the body blow which Republicans had been bracing themselves for when his vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, was found to have abused her powers in pursuit of a personal feud with her former brother-in-law.

"At the end of the 10-week investigation into the so-called Troopergate affair, Palin was found to have breached the ethics rules which govern her conduct as governor of Alaska. The findings, delivered by an investigator who had been hired by the Alaskan state legislature before she was picked as McCain's running mate, are certain to lead to questions over his judgment, and to queries and challenges as to her suitability for national office."

Matt Apuzzo from the AP:

Investigator Stephen Branchflower, in a report to a bipartisan panel that looked into .. into [Palin's] dismissal of Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan, who said he lost his job because he resisted pressure to fire a state trooper involved in a bitter divorce and custody battle with the governor's sister. Palin says Monegan was fired as part of a legitimate budget dispute.

Read the full report here.

Before the report was released, McCain's campaign denounced the investigation as biased and claimed that the governor did nothing wrong. The campaign characterized Monegan's firing as a "straightforward personnel decision" that has become "muddied with innuendo, rumor and partisan politics," perhaps trying to distract from the fact that report author Branchflower was a former prosecutor and paid $100,000 by a Republican-controlled legislative committee to conduct the investigation and produce the report.

Explanation of the legal issues involved by oregondem from Daily Kos:

How could Gov. Sarah Palin have "abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act" if her firing of Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan was a "proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statutory authority"?

"The first of these is Finding Number One in the Report to the Legislative Council filed on Friday by the independent investigator for the Alaska legislature. The second is Finding Number Two.

"Gotta love the language we lawyers use, dontcha? I am going to provide some explanation of how both Findings can be issued in the same report.

The key is to focus on the words "abused her power by violating" the ethics laws (which apply to all employees of the executive branch of Alaska state government) in her attempts to get Trooper Wotoen fired, and the words her "constitutional and statutory authority" in regard to the actual firing of Commissioner Monegan.

She lawfully exercised her authority in terms of the laws setting forth what authority she has, but she violated different laws by acting in a manner that abused her use of power in regard to Trooper Wooten.

To put it another way, the Alaska constitution and statutes allow the Governor to do certain things, such as hire and fire officials at will. If she engages in illegally unethical behavior, she has still exercised her lawful authority. A court cannot overturn her actions as unconstitutional or contrary to the statutes setting forth how much authority she has.

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An abuse of power? Sounds all too familiar.

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