Palin embroiled in Alaska firing probe
   For the past several years, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice
presidential candidate, has been embroiled in a bitter family feud that
has drawn in the state police, the attorney general, the governor's office
and the state Legislature.
  A bipartisan state legislative panel has appointed a special prosecutor to
investigate whether Palin improperly brought the family fight into the
governor's office. The investigation is focusing on whether she and her
aides pressured and ultimately fired the public safety commissioner,
Walter Monegan, for not removing Palin's ex-brother-in-law from the state
police force.
  Palin has said she did not pressure Monegan or fire him for not taking
action against her former brother-in-law. A spokesman for Sen. John
McCain's campaign, who asked not to be identified because the matter is
under investigation, said Palin's actions were merely intended to alert
Monegan about potential threats to her family from her sister's
ex-husband, Mike Wooten.
  Interviews with principals involved in the dispute and a review of court
documents and police internal affairs reports reveal that Palin has been
deeply involved in alerting state officials to her family's personal
turmoil. Overheard threats
  The trouble between Wooten and the governor's sister broke into the open
in January 2005. That month, Wooten attended a trooper-sponsored event in
Idaho with a married woman, according to an e-mail Sarah Palin later wrote
to the chief of the state police.
  A month later, when Palin's sister, who uses her previous married name of
Molly McCann, confronted Wooten, he threatened to kill her father, Sarah
Palin alleged in the e-mail, saying she overhead the threat on a
  "Wooten's words were, 'I will kill him. He'll eat a (expletive) lead
bullet, I'll shoot him,' if our father got the attorney to help Molly,"
Palin said. "I heard this death threat, my 16-year-old son heard it (Track
Palin), Molly heard it, as did their small children. Wooten spoke with his
trooper gun on his hip in an extremely intimidating fashion, leaving no
doubt he is serious about taking someone's life who disagrees with him."
  There is no record of police charging Wooten for the alleged threat.
Through his attorney, Wooten declined to comment for this article.
  On the day that the governor's younger sister filed for divorce - April
11, 2005 - Palin's father, Chuck Heath, called state police to file a
complaint about Wooten. He handed the phone to his daughter Molly, who
told state police that her husband had threatened her father's life, shot
a "cow moose" without a license, Tasered his 10-year-old stepson and drank
beer while driving his police vehicle home. An angry e-mail
  A month later, Palin, then chairing the state oil and gas commission, was
interviewed by a state police investigator. She told him about the
speakerphone incident. Fearful for the lives of her sister and her father,
Palin said she drove to her sister's house and watched the argument
through a window. She said she thought, "He is gonna blow it." She left
for a meeting without calling police.
  On Aug. 10, 2005, Palin sent an angry, three-page e-mail to Col. Julia
Grimes, head of the state police: "My concern is that the public's faith
in the trooper will continue to diminish as more residents express
concerns regarding the apparent lack of action towards a trooper whom is
described by many as 'a ticking time bomb' and a 'loose cannon.' "
  The divorce went to trial in the fall of 2005 while the state police
internal investigation was pending. Anchorage Superior Court Judge John
Suddock reviewed the complaints filed by Palin and her family. At trial on
Oct. 27, 2005, the judge expressed puzzlement about why the family was
trying to get Wooten fired, since depriving the trooper of a job would
harm his ability to pay family support to Palin's sister.
  On March 1, 2006, Grimes sustained the allegations, saying, "The record
clearly indicates a serious and concentrated pattern of unacceptable and
at times, illegal activity occurring over a lengthy period, which
establishes a course of conduct totally at odds with the ethics of our
profession." Wooten was suspended for five days.
  That fall, in a surprise, Palin defeated Gov. Frank Murkowski in the
Republican primary and went on to win the general election. She took
office in December 2006 and appointed Monegan, who had just retired as
Anchorage police chief after five years, to be public safety commissioner,
a Cabinet position.
  In January 2007, Palin's husband, Todd, invited Monegan to the governor's
office. Todd Palin asked him to look into the Wooten matter. Monegan did
and later told Todd Palin there was nothing he could do because the matter
was closed.
  Sarah Palin called Monegan a few days later, and he told her the same
thing, he told the Washington Post. She brought it up again in February
2007 in the state capitol building and Monegan warned her to stay at arm's
length. Telephone inquiries
  Monegan said he also got telephone calls from three Palin appointees,
including her then-chief of staff, Mike Tibbles; Commissioner Annette
Kreitzer of the Department of Administration and Attorney General Talis
  Colberg said at a news conference this year that he called after Todd
Palin asked him about "the process" for when state troopers make death
threats against the first family.
  "I made an inquiry and was told by Commissioner Monegan that there was a
process in place and that it was handled and it was over. And I reported
back to the first gentleman that there was nothing more that could be
done," Colberg said.
  With each of the calls, Monegan became more concerned and warned each
caller about exposing the state to litigation from Wooten.
  Meanwhile, Todd Palin continued to collect evidence against his former
brother-in-law and lobbied for his dismissal, records and interviews show.
In April 2007, he told the Anchorage Daily News that he met just once with
Wooten's boss, Col. Audie Holloway, to give her pictures of Wooten driving
a snowmobile when he was out on a worker's compensation claim.
Investigations begin
  In July, Palin's chief of staff told Monegan he was being fired because
the governor wanted to "go in a different direction," Monegan said.
  Monegan went public, saying that his firing was connected to his failure
to remove Wooten. The state legislature launched its investigation, and
the governor asked the attorney general's office to conduct an internal
  Alaska Deputy Attorney General Michael Barnhill said that the review, made
public two weeks ago, found that half a dozen officials had made about two
dozen phone calls regarding Wooten. But only one call was determined to be
improper, a tape-recorded conversation between Palin's chief of boards and
commissions, Frank Bailey, to a police lieutenant.
  In the call, Bailey said, "Todd and Sarah are scratching their heads, 'Why
on earth hasn't this, why is this guy still representing the department?'
  Palin suspended Bailey with pay, saying she knew nothing about the call.
Palin still faces the review by the legislature. Democratic state Sen.
Hollis French said that Republicans and Democrats authorized the hiring of
a former prosecutor to determine whether Palin "used her public office to
settle a private score." The legislative report is due in October.