In Alaska, Governor Palin challenged a corrupt system and passed a landmark ethics reform bill. She has actually used her veto and cut budgetary spending. She put a stop to the "bridge to nowhere" that would have cost taxpayers $400 million dollars.
Along with fellow reformers in the great state of Alaska, as governor, I've stood up to the old politics as usual, to the special interests, to the lobbyists, the big oil companies, and the good-old- boy network.
When oil and gas prices went up so dramatically and the state revenues followed with that increase, I sent a large share of that revenue directly back to the people of Alaska. And we are now -- we're now embarking on a $40 billion natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence.
I signed major ethics reform. And I appointed both Democrats and independents to serve in my administration. And I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress -- I told Congress, "Thanks, but no thanks," on that bridge to nowhere.
If our state wanted a bridge, I said we'd build it ourselves. Well, it's always, though, safer in politics to avoid risk, to just kind of go along with the status quo. But I didn't get into government to do the safe and easy things. A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not why the ship is built.
I can only conclude that McCain thought that he was choosing Michael Palin:
The legislative investigation centers on Palin's dismissal of Monegan, who says that he was contacted several times by the governor and her husband, Todd Palin, and that they pressured him to fire Wooten, who was locked in a contentious divorce and custody battle with Palin's sister, Molly McCann.
"Obviously, there was an issue," says Monegan, who claims that the governor talked to him twice and e-mailed him two or three times about the issue. "And did she want us to do more than discipline him? Yeah, anyone can tell you that.
"No one ever -- not her, not her staff -- has ever said, 'Fire Trooper Wooten,'" adds Monegan. "They all said, 'He's not the sort we'd like to have represent Alaska state troopers.' But the intention was clear."
Monegan says that he also met with Todd Palin in the governor's office in January 2007 and claims, "He showed me ... private investigator reports, letters, correspondence" that raised issues suggesting Wooten should be punished.
But Monegan says when he brought the information back to his office and compared it to the commission's internal file on Wooten, which contained complaints filed by Palin's sister, he says he didn't find anything new.
Monegan says Wooten had already been disciplined by his predecessor for the same complaints raised by Palin and her husband.
"They were already done deals and he had already been punished," says Monegan, who adds that the governor called him late at night on his cellphone a few days after his meeting with Todd Palin.
"There was no new evidence, and I called [Todd Palin] back and told him it was a closed case," Monegan says. "He wasn't happy to hear that. I got a subsequent phone call from the governor about it, and she wasn't happy, either."
In total, Monegan says he and his office received 24 calls over 17 months from the governor, her husband and her staff about Wooten.
Right On Time
At TPMMuckraker we've been on the Palin/Trooper-gate story for a while. And we've just reported that the investigation by the state legislature is scheduled to report its findings in the first couple days of November.
This is a perilous story for Palin and McCain. I flagged some of the details earlier in the day. But this is the kind of story, the kind of investigation, where it is highly unlikely that Palin hasn't made public false statements about her involvement in what happened. I think that's generous. As always in cases like this, the question is whether anyone can prove it. There are a couple investigations -- one under the auspices of the state legislature and another of the state Attorney General, which she either supported or 'requested'. That latter investigation already surfaced taped phone calls that forced Palin walk back her original denials and admit that her aides had pressed for the firings, just without her knowledge.
Using the power of the government to settle scores with estranged relatives or associates is far from unprecedented. There are probably several similar investigations going on in other states as we speak. But I doubt very much that they were prepared for the heat of full bore national media scrutiny on this one. And in this case you [have] not only the underlying act, which is sleazy, but the high probability that Palin is lying about her role.
Late Update: And special bonus: after the firing that got her administration into trouble, Palin replaced him with another guy who'd recently been hit with a credible sexual harassment accusation. Palin later admitted that she knew about the complaint in advance but denied that she knew of the letter of reprimand he'd received.
He lasted two weeks on the job.
Two sides to the story.
Link proof of your claims that "she kept the money" and I'll be glad to address it.
"We will continue to look for options for Ketchikan to allow better access to the island," Gov. Sarah Palin said. "The concentration is not going to be on a $400 million bridge."
Palin has directed the state Department of Transportation to find the most "fiscally responsible" alternative for access to the airport.
Republicans U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and U.S. Rep. Don Young championed the project through Congress two years ago, securing more than $200 million in funds for the bridge between Ketchikan, on Revillagigedo Island, and Gravina Island.
Under mounting political pressure over pork projects, Congress stripped the earmark " or stipulation " that the money be used for the airport.
Ultimately, Congress still sent the money to the state, but for any use it deemed appropriate.
The state eventually took much of that money for other projects around the state.
A spokeswoman from Young's office said he would have no comment. Stevens spokesman Aaron Saunders said the Senator is interested in how the state ultimately uses the money that went to the state.
DOT commissioner Leo von Scheben told Ketchikan officials last month that he was concerned about getting bridge funding, which could range from $225 million to nearly $400 million.
In a statement Friday, he said the excess bridge money could be used to build roads in Alaska.
"There is no question we desperately need to construct new roads in this state, including in southeast Alaska, where skyrocketing costs for the Alaska Marine Highway System present an impediment to the state's budget and the region's economy," von Scheben said.
On Friday, Alaska decided the bridge really was going nowhere, officially abandoning the project in Ketchikan that became a national symbol of federal pork-barrel spending.
While the move closes a chapter that has brought the state reams of ridicule, it also leaves open wounds in a community that fought for decades to get federal help.
"We went through political hot water -- tons of it -- and not just nationally but internationally," Ketchikan-Gateway Borough Mayor Joe Williams said. "We have nothing to show for it."
The $398 million bridge would have connected Ketchikan, on one island in southeastern Alaska, to its airport on another nearby island.
Gov. Sarah Palin said Friday the project was $329 million short of full funding.
"We will continue to look for options for Ketchikan to allow better access to the island," the Republican governor said. "The concentration is not going to be on a $400 million bridge."
Palin directed state transportation officials to find the most "fiscally responsible" alternative for access to the airport. She said the best option would be to upgrade the ferry system.
* * *
U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young, both Republicans, championed the project through Congress two years ago, securing more than $200 million for the bridge between Revillagigedo and Gravina islands.
Under mounting political pressure over pork projects, Congress stripped the earmark -- or stipulation -- that the money be used for the airport, but still sent the money to the state for any use it deemed appropriate.
Stevens spokesman Aaron Saunders said Friday the senator was interested in how the state ultimately used the money. A spokeswoman for Young said the congressman would have no comment.
Just last month, presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said pet projects could have played a role in a Minnesota bridge collapse that killed 13 people earlier this year.
"Maybe if we had done it right, maybe some of that money would have gone to inspect those bridges and other bridges around the country," McCain told a group of people in a town-hall style meeting in Ankeny, Iowa.
"Maybe the 200,000 people who cross that bridge every day would have been safer than spending $233 million of your tax dollars on a bridge in Alaska to an island with 50 people on it."
On Friday, Leo von Scheben, commissioner of the state Department of Transportation, said the bridge money could be used to build roads in Alaska.
"There is no question we desperately need to construct new roads in this state, including in southeast Alaska, where skyrocketing costs for the Alaska Marine Highway System present an impediment to the state's budget and the region's economy," von Scheben said in a statement.
The governor urged Alaskans not to dwell on the bridge.
"Much of the public's attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here," Palin said. "But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened."