Palin Criticized in Alaska

Gov. Sarah Palin at the River Front Sports Complex in Scranton. (Photo: Michael Appleton for The New York Times)

The McCain campaign likes to describe Sarah Palin as the most popular governor in the United States, a claim borne out by her high ratings in Alaska public opinion polls. But in the wake of the so-called Troopergate report, she is getting some criticism in her home state.

In an editorial, the Anchorage Daily News called Ms. Palin's reaction to the Troopergate report "an embarrassment to Alaskans and the nation."

The report by the Alaska Legislature, made public on Friday, found that Ms. Palin abused the powers of her office by unsuccessfully pressuring subordinates to fire her former brother-in-law, a state trooper — a violation of the state's public ethics law. The investigation also concluded that the firing campaign had been driven by a family feud.

It found, however, that Ms. Palin was within her right to fire the state's public safety commissioner for any reason, even if it was because he would not succumb to the pressure to fire the trooper.

Ms. Palin responded to the report by telling reporters that she was "thankful that the report has shown that there was no illegal or unethical activity there in my choice to replace our commissioner." Her spokeswoman, in a statement, partly blamed "Obama supporters" for the report's conclusion.

The editorial, published Monday, expressed some astonishment.

"She claims the report 'vindicates' her," the editorial read. "She said that the investigation found 'no unlawful or unethical activity on my part.' Her response is either astoundingly ignorant or downright Orwellian."

Ms. Palin and her husband, Todd, "had no sense that the power of the governor's office carries a special responsibility not to use it to settle family scores," the editorial continued. "They had no sense that legal restrictions might prevent the troopers from firing Wooten. They had no sense that persistent queries from the governor's office might be perceived as pressure to bend state personnel laws."

It added: "And her Orwellian claims of 'vindication' make this blemish on her record look even worse."

Meanwhile, the Alaska investigation is not concluded; the state personnel board has yet to act. And when they do, they will have new ethics complaints to investigate.

According to an article in the Anchorage Daily News, two new charges have been lodged against Ms. Palin. Andree McLeod, a local activist, has filed a complaint claiming that one of Ms. Palin's supporters was allowed to circumvent state hiring practices. And the Public Safety Employees Association has also complained that state officials illegally obtained the file of the state trooper, Michael Wooten.

Both Ms. Palin and her husband, Todd, have agreed to be interviewed by Tim Petumenos, the lead investigator on the personnel board, by the end of next week.

Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
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