From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage –
Just got back from the Palin press conference on the firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.
Palin’s office handed out copies of this Feb. 29 phone call from Frank Bailey -- a longtime member of Palin's team -- talking to Lt. Rodney Dial, legislative liaison for the Department of Public Safety.
The phone call
In the call, Bailey talks about Palmer Trooper Mike Wooten, Palin’s former brother-in-law. Bailey notes Wooten still has his job and offers to give more dirt on Wooten for Public Safety.
"Tell me what you need and we'll get it for ya," he said.
Bailey says: "Todd and Sarah are scratching their heads, you know: Why on earth, why is this guy still representing the department, he's a horrible recruiting tool. And from their perspective, everybody's protecting him."
And later: “She (Palin) really likes Walt a lot, but on this issue she feels like it’s, she doesn’t know why there’s absolutely no action for a year … it’s very troubling to her and the family. I can definitely relay that.”
The Legislature hired an investigator to look into whether Monegan was fired because he wouldn't discipline Wooten. Palin says that if there is a “smoking gun," this is it, but she says she only recently learned of the conversation and didn’t ask Bailey to make the call.
Monegan was fired for other reasons, she said.
“I do now have to tell Alaskans that such pressure could have been perceive to exist, although I only now have become aware of it. It’s apparent that over the course of my term, members of my administration did contact department of public safey to discuss concerns regarding trooper Wooten," Palin said.
"… Many of these inquires were completely appropriate. However, the serial nature of the contacts understandably could be perceive as some kind of pressure, presumabely at my direction.”
I’ll put up video of the press conference as soon as possible.
Meantime, a few quick notes:
-- Palin and Attorney General Talis Colberg say there were at least two dozen phone calls from members of Palin’s staff asking about Wooten.
-- Colberg said he had a conversation with Monegan about Wooten.
-- One of the calls came from Palin’s husband, Todd Palin.
-- Many came from Palin’s former Chief of Staff, Mike Tibbles.
-- Palin says she didn’t know about Bailey’s phone calls, but did know about at least some of the other calls.
-- Just after the press conference, Palin’s team was to meet with the independent investigator hired by the Legislature to look into Monegan’s firing.
-- Palin said Monegan’s firing wasn’t about Wooten, who kept his job even as members of the governor’s staff kept asking about him. She says Monegan wasn’t “a team player” when it came to the budget, asked for more money while failing to fill vacant job positions, and wasn’t doing a good enough job combating alcohol issues such as rural bootlegging.
-- Monegan turned down the governor’s offer to head up the Alcoholic Beverages Control Board.
-- Monegan’s replacement, Chuck Kopp, was paid a “severance package” of $10,000, after quickly resigning.
-- Palin said no decision has been made yet about what happens to Bailey.