THE CRIME VS. THE COVER-UP…. Looking back, Sarah Palin would have been so much better off if she’d acknowledged the real reasons she fired former Alaskan Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan — he didn’t get rid of her former brother-in-law when she wanted him to. Indeed, if she had conceded what she’d done and why, Palin might have even been able to spin this into a positive.

It’s the dishonesty, though, that continues to make this a more serious problem.

The fired Alaskan official, whose dismissal has become the subject of a state senate committee’s investigation of Gov. Sarah Palin, has told ABC News that she has not been entirely truthful on the matter.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Walt Monegan, the former Alaskan Public Safety Commissioner, said he was dismissed because he refused to fire the Governor’s former brother-in-law, a state trooper. “I believe I was fired because of, primarily the reason of her former brother-in-law,” Monegan said. “I think that my unwillingness to take special action against her former brother-in-law was not well received.”

Monegan says he believes that the Governor has not told the truth about what happened.

“I think there are some questions now that, coming to light about how transparent and how honest she wants to be,” Monegan said.

I’m sure Palin and the McCain campaign would love for this story to go away, but the longer she sticks to a bogus story, the more it undermines her credibility. The crime, in this case, is bad, but the cover-up is worse.

Keep in mind, Palin has already had to backpedal when her public claims couldn’t withstand scrutiny. She initially said her administration didn’t pressure Monegan to fire her former brother-in-law. That turned out to be false. She said she had disagreed with Monegan over alcohol-abuse issues in rural Alaska. That turned out to be false (a couple of weeks before firing Monegan, Palin praised his work on alcohol-abuse issues in rural Alaska and offered to make him director of the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control Board).

And Palin has also said her discussions with Monegan about her former brother-in-law were limited to her family’s safety. According to emails obtained by the Washington Post, that’s not true, either.

Josh Marshall had a terrific item over the weekend, summarizing the scandal. He concluded: “We rely on elected officials not to use the power of their office to pursue personal agendas or vendettas. It’s called an abuse of power…. The available evidence now suggests that she 1) tried to have an ex-relative fired from his job for personal reasons, something that was clearly inappropriate, and perhaps illegal, though possibly understandable in human terms, 2) fired a state official for not himself acting inappropriately by firing the relative, 3) lied to the public about what happened and 4) continues to lie about what happened. ”

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.