Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Sarah Palin's Troopergate questions
The Troopergate investigation by the Personnel Board appears to have been incomplete. They have not addressed some aspects of the case, such as the unlawful access to Mike Wooten's confidential personnel file. I found an article that outlines the change of tactics when the confidentiality of Wooten's file became an issue.
Sarah Palin claims right to see all state files
Palin’s new position was summed up in a letter from Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg.
“It does not violate the State Personnel Act for Department of Administration Staff to provide confidential personnel information to the governor or her staff — or for the governor or her staff to receive that information — in the course and scope of their official duties.”
This legal analysis appears to be an attempt to provide Palin and her staffers with legal cover for allegedly disseminating confidential information about Wooten in a campaign to get him fired.
Sarah Palin’s new defense line became necessary when it emerged that an earlier claim that Wooten’s personnel file was public record through his divorce case with Palin’s sister turned out to be untrue.
Sarah Palin issued a statement suggesting that she had obtained information about Wooten’s personnel file through the discovery process related to the divorce/custody battle with her sister, which was posted in her Governor's website.
“Any information regarding personnel records came from the trooper himself,” Palin said.
Later Palin’s office removed Wooten’s release form from her official website without explanation. The governor's office refused to comment.
However, the removal roughly coincided with the attorney general’s letter, suggesting that the Palin administration may have realized that Wooten’s records were never part of the public record in the divorce case, leaving the governor and her husband with some legal exposure.
Attorney General Colberg then issued his opinion that the source of Sarah Palin’s knowledge about Wooten’s personnel record was irrelevant because she had the right to look into anything she wanted with regards to a state employee.
Wooten’s personnel file was never introduced as evidence in the divorce/custody case because he entered into a settlement agreement with his ex-wife over custody of their young children, according to Sarah Palin’s sister’s attorney, Roberta Erwin.
The clerk at the courthouse in Anchorage confirmed that the contents of the Wooten divorce case contain none of Wooten’s personnel, medical or financial records.
However, three weeks after Wooten signed that release form for the discovery – even though the information was not in the public record – Sarah Palin’s director of state boards and commissions, Frank Bailey, telephoned police Lt. Rodney Dial and wanted to know why Wooten hadn’t been fired. Bailey outlined disparaging details about Wooten’s finances and personal behavior that appear to have come from his personnel file. Bailey said he had gotten the information from Todd Palin, the governor’s husband.
Sarah Palin had stated her husband Todd had the information because Wooten had signed a release placing his entire personnel file in the public domain.
I doubt that the Governor and her staff actually have unlimited legal access to state employees' confidential personnel files, but even if they do, Todd Palin doesn't! If Sarah Palin allowed her husband access to Wooten's file, she is in trouble. The illegal release of a state employee’s personal details is a misdemeanour in Alaska. According to Alaska law ANY public official convicted of this misdemeanour AUTOMATICALLY FORFEITS THEIR OFFICE.
As usual, I raise some questions.
Who can charge Sarah Palin with this? Is it always up to the Personnel Board, whose members are appointed by the Governor, to investigate these matters?
Why does Sarah Palin always have unlimited wriggle room to escape a proper investigation into anything?
Who can hold this woman accountable for her actions?
Full article here.
State of Alaska Confidentiality of Information Acknowledgment. pdf