Thursday, August 14, 2008

Palin's latest explanations leave more questions

Governor and staff's latest explanations leave more questions
By Corey Allen-Young, CBS 11 News Reporter

Governor Sarah Palin It was a stunning development Wednesday:
Governor Palin admitted to possible pressure from her administration to fire former Department of Public Safety Director Walt Monegan. But it's how the Governor and her staff are explaining this latest development, compared to what they've said just last month, that is noteworthy. The taped phone call we all heard Wednesday reveals possible pressure. But when pressed to explain how these latest developments play into what was said in the past, one could be left scratching their head.

From the very beginning of the investigation, former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan has said that he did feel pressure from Governor Palin to get rid of trooper Michael Wooten, her ex brother in law.

"There was pressure for that, yes," said Monegan.

Pressure that just weeks ago, Palin, her administration, and her husband denied.

"To tell you that, truth is, that no pressure was ever put on anybody to fire anybody," said Palin on July 18th.

"Some may say it's pressure and I say it's just informing," said Todd Palin, the Governor's husband.

Key members of the Palin administration also denied talking to Monegan.

"I just can not recall a specific conversation where Commissioner Monegan and I talked about this specific trooper," said Annette Kreitzer, the Commissioner of Administration.

"If Walt Monegan says if I ever talked to him or pressured him about even talking to him about Wooten, that is absolutely false," said Frank Bailey, the Boards and Commissions Director.

Wednesday, the Governor changed course, admitting now that one of her own made phone calls that could be perceived as pressure and were just plain wrong. It was Bailey who had previously denied applying any pressure, but admitted Wednesday that his call sounds different.

"I got to be honest, listening to the tape you know it certainly sounds like I am putting pressure on him," said Bailey.

It wasn't just Bailey who

Former Department of Public Safety Director Walt Monegan called.
"I was one of the calls and that much I can tell you," said Attorney General Talis Colberg.

Monegan says he was working with the governor's staff over the issue of Trooper Wooten.

"I was contacted by Commissioner Annette Kreitzer and Chief of Staff Mike Tibbles and then I heard that Frank Bailey had contacted one of the commanders," said Monegan.

But Palin said Wednesday the subject of her ex-brother-in-law never came up with Monegan.

"We never had a conversation on whether trooper Wooten should be a trooper or not," said Palin.

Monegan says not true.

"She wanted to talk about it on the phone and we talked once at the capitol building. And she brought it up. And I actually advised her that she shouldn't be talking about it."

The Governor also has shown some contradictions in regards to the reason to Monegan's dismissal. Wednesday she said that Monegan was let go due to some concerns in his command.

"I was concerned also that we were not doing enough on continuing alcohol abuse issues that I wanted to see tackled, including the bootlegging issues in rural Alaska," Palin said Wednesday.

But weeks ago she praised Monegan for his abilities to solve those same issues when offering him a job as the director of the Alcohol Beverage Control Board.

"I recognized that Walt's interests and strengths could be put to good use as he could concentrate exclusively on a couple of issues that were his interest, that be bootlegging

Frank Bailey, Boards and Commissions Director and alcohol problems in rural Alaska," said Palin on July 17th.
As the special investigation on the governor's potential abuse of power continues, the questions remain on what the governor and her administration's purpose was in dealing with the Department of Public Safety. The Governor continues to say she has nothing to hide and will answer any questions. Walt Monegan says he is cooperating with the investigation as he has already started talking to the investigator, Steve Branchflower.

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