Competing Troopergate reports

COMPETING TROOPERGATE REPORTS…. Three weeks ago, an independent investigation launched by the Alaskan legislature into Sarah Palin’s abuse-of-power scandal wrapped up with a fairly devastating report — Palin violated the public trust, violated state ethics laws, and lied about it. (Soon after, Palin, driven either out of ignorance or illiteracy, said the report had cleared her of “any hint of any kind of unethical activity,” which is the opposite of reality.)

Palin and the McCain campaign decided it didn’t like the independent investigation, and preferred a different probe, run by Alaska’s personnel board, which is made up of members who answer to Palin.

And wouldn’t you know it, on the night before the election, the board sided with Palin in a hastily released report.

A report released on Monday by a state board found that Gov. Sarah Palin did not apply improper pressure to try to dismiss a state trooper who was her former brother-in-law and did not violate state ethics laws in the firing of her public safety commissioner.

The report by the Alaska Personnel Board contradicts the conclusions last month of a separate inquiry into the matter overseen by a bipartisan legislative panel. The earlier inquiry found that Ms. Palin had breached a state ethics act by pressing to have the trooper, Mike Wooten, fired.

It appears that, as far as Palin’s Alaska Personnel Board is concerned, this was a he-said, she-said situation. Walt Monegan described discussions he had with members of the Palin administration about the governor’s ex-brother in law, while Palin and her aides said those conversations hadn’t taken place. As far as the board’s investigator was concerned, he believed the aides.

Monegan said last night, “The conversations absolutely did take place. I’ve been a police officer for some 35 years. Aren’t I supposed to tell the truth? And in this case I did, under oath to both investigators. It’s not only me. There were senior members of the Department of Public Safety who got the calls, felt the pressure and knew exactly what was going on. I will always feel that there were conversations and e-mails that were intended to inappropriately use an official government position to settle a family matter.”

At this point, Palin and her allies will, at a minimum, claim vindication. For others, there will probably be a temptation to conclude, “One investigation cleared Palin, one didn’t, so let’s just forget the whole thing.”

But the bottom line remains the same: the only bipartisan, independent investigation that wasn’t operated by people who answer to the governor found that she violated state ethics and violated the public trust. An 11th-hour favor to the governor doesn’t change that.