Palin and Monegan
Governor Sarah Palin has given conflicting explanations for the departure of Public Safety Commisioner Walt Monegan, apparently fired on July 11, 2008 after he failed- despite pressure from Mrs. Palin, Mr. Palin, and members of the governor's administration- to fire State Trooper Mike Wooten. Wooten had been married to Sarah Palin's sister and was involved in a bitter custody dispute with his estranged wife.
In an interview on July 21 with right-wing Larry Kudlow of CNBC's "Kudlow and Company, " Governor Earmark said (YouTube video here) the firing was made "to fill vacant trooper positions to deal with bootlegging and alcohol abuse problems, especailly in our rural villages." On August 13, she argued Monegan was fired because he "did not turn out to be a team player on budgeting issue" and failed to fill trooper vacancies and deal with alcohol abuse in rural areas. Apparently, though, the Governor did believe he was expert in alcohol abuse programs in the rural part of the state. In a New Yorker article published this week, reporter Philip Gourevitch writes
She said that one of her goals had been to combat alcohol abuse in rural Alaska, and she blamed Commissioner Monegan for failing to address the problem. That, she said, was a big reason that she’d let him go—only, by her account, she didn’t fire him, exactly. Rather, she asked him to drop everything else and single-mindedly take on the state’s drinking problem, as the director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. “It was a job that was open, commensurate in salary pretty much—ten thousand dollars less”—but, she added, Monegan hadn’t wanted the job, so he left state service; he quit.
So as of mid-August, the public safety commissioner who had been fired now turned out to have resigned his position, a convenient shift once she had "lawyered up." In papers filed on 9/15 with the state Personnel Board, Palin's personal lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, implied Monegan had not been fired while accusing him of "an escalating pattern of insubordination on budget and other key policy issues."
But maybe there was another reason that Palin and Monegan parted company. ABC News has reported that Alaska has for many years (according to the FBI) been the nation's leader in forcible rapes per capita and among its leaders in sexual assaults, with domestic violence commonly referred to as "epidemic." Officials in the Department of Public Safety responded with an ambitious, multi-million dollar plan, which was shelved in July by Governor Palin.
And who was the main proponent of the plan? None other than the Commisioner of Public Safety, one Walt Monegan.
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