Maddow Guest Displays La-De-Da Revisionism About Troopergate's Rogue Cops

Anyone who makes fools of liberals on a regular basis can't be all bad. For this, yet again, we can thank Sarah Palin.

The upcoming release of Palin's memoirs, "Going Rogue: An American Life," has already led to attempts by left wingers in the media to rewrite the Troopergate scandal.

Palin was accused of abusing her power as governor by dismissing Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan for his refusal to fire state trooper Mike Wooten as a danger to the public. Wooten was Palin's former brother-in-law and had gone through a nasty divorce and custody battle with Palin's sister.

Here, for example, is Alaskan blogger Jeanne Devon of The Mudflats.net with her skewed take on Troopergate when she appeared on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show Sept. 29 --

MADDOW: Jeanne, you wrote at your blog Mudflats today, "Sarah Palin apparently hopes to make the term 'rogue' impish and endearing. She may have fooled her ghostwriter and the folks at HarperCollins and she may fool many of those in the Lower 48 who will wait on line for their copy of 'Going Rogue', but she will not fool Alaskans."

What did you mean by that?

DEVON: Well, as you were saying, the term "rogue", while most people in the Lower 48 I think would associate that term with what you mentioned and also with the Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live "Going Rogue" skit, Alaskans have a deeper understanding and it goes further back.

The Troopergate scandal that was coming to a head the summer before she was nominated and tapped to be the VP really brought into clear focus those two instances that you talked about. The word "rogue" when it was applied to Trooper Mike Wooten, who could be argued not to be a particularly sympathetic character, but the use of that term "rogue", "a rogue cop", he ended up having to be pushing papers at a desk job. It was felt that he couldn't be safe in his patrol car out dealing with the public because then-Gov. Palin had said that he was a danger to herself, to her family and to the public.

So that use of the word "rogue" had some pretty devastating implications for him. And also for Walt Monegan, who on the other hand was sort of brimming with integrity, was beloved by anyone that worked for him, kind of the model police chief that everybody would hope to have, ex-Marine. When he was called a rogue, he actually sought out a hearing in front of the Alaska personnel board in order to clear his name, to have his sort of day in court as it were to address the reputational harm that that label of "rogue" had caused him.

That Monegan did, seeking a hearing before the state personnel board -- which rejected his claim. Which Devon conveniently neglected to tell Maddow's audience.

On Nov. 3, 2008, the Anchorage Daily News reported on the second of two Alaska state investigations of Troopergate, "and both investigations found that Palin was within her rights to fire Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan."

As for Monegan's allegation that Palin maligned his reputation, the personnel board found "no basis to conduct a hearing to address 'reputational harm,' as requested by Monegan," the Daily News reported.

The first investigation, ordered by the Alaska legislature, concluded that while Palin was within her rights to fire Monegan, she "abused her power" by pressuring him to fire Wooten. But the more one looks at the actions of Monegan and Wooten, the more that "rogue" applies in describing them.

Palin maintained that her firing of Monegan was for insubordination and had nothing to do with Wooten. The filing of her legal team in response to the legislature's investigation showed abundant examples of Monegan's attempts to derail Palin's agenda as governor. As detailed Sept. 16, 2008 by Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, these included --

  • 12/9/07: Monegan holds a press conference with (Alaska state senator) Hollis French to push his own budget plan.
  • 1/29/08: Palin's staffers have to rework their procedures to keep Monegan from bypassing normal channels for budget requests.
  • February 2008: Monegan publicly releases a letter he wrote to Palin supporting a project she vetoed.
  • June 26, 2008: Monegan bypassed the governor's office entirely and contacted Alaska's Congressional delegation to gain funding for a project.

Contact with the delegation, incidentally, that involved Monegan going to Washington, D.C. Morrissey elaborated further --

Monegan even admitted in his valedictory e-mail to his colleagues, saying that he "had waited too long outside her door for her to believe I supported her." Nor did Monegan file an ethics complaint, as the law would have required him to do, if he felt his termination violated state ethics laws.(Palin filed the complaint herself to argue the case.)

As for Monegan's allegation that Palin harmed his reputation with the dreaded label "rogue", a stronger case can be made that Monegan did more to harm his own reputation -- by dislocating his estranged wife's shoulder, as detailed by the San Francisco Chronicle in September 2008 --

In October 1994, Monegan's estranged wife, who had moved from Alaska to the Peninsula with the couple's two daughters after more than 10 years of marriage, sought a termporary restraining order against him -- accusing Monegan of threatening to kill her, waving a gun at her and dislocating her shoulder, according to her declaration on file in Santa Clara County Superior Court.

In an interview last week, Georgene Molovan said Monegan had threatened several times to throw her body in an Alaska river.

Monegan, who has since remarried, vigorously denied Moldovan's allegations, both in court papers filed at the time and in an interview with us last week. "I'm not a door slammer -- I don't punch walls," he said.

Monegan admitted to dislocating Moldovan's shoulder, but said it was an accident that had happened before they were married, while they "were wrestling and tickling."

While "wrestling and tickling" ... Oh sure, that's plausible. Happens all the time, as any divorce lawyer will tell you. 

And how about Trooper Wooten? It's true, Devon said, Wooten "could be argued not to be a particularly sympathetic character." That's putting it mildly.

According to an Anchorage Daily News story that ran July 28, 2008 in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, state police "eventually investigated 13 issues and found four in which Wooten violated policy or broke the law or both:

  • Wooten used a Taser on his stepson. (blogger's note: the boy was 10.)
  • He illegally shot a moose.
  • He drank beer in his patrol car on one occasion.
  • He told others his father-in-law would "eat a f'ing lead bullet" if he helped his daughter get an attorney for the divorce.

Even before his friction with the Palin family, Wooten was hardly a choir boy. Again from the Anchorage Daily News in the same July 2008 story, a month before McCain picked Palin for his running mate --

Beyond the investigation sparked by the family, trooper commanders saw cause to discipline or give written instructions to correct Wooten seven times since he joined the force. (in March 2001)  Those incidents included: a reprimand in January 2004 for negligent damage to a state vehicle; a January 2005 instruction after being accused of speeding, unsafe lane changes, following too closely and not using turn signals in his state vehicle; a June 2005 instruction regarding personal cell phone calls; an October 2005 suspension from work after getting a speeding ticket; and a November 2005 memo "to clarify duty hours, tardiness and personal business during duty time."

But please, whatever you do, don't call the man a "rogue."

Imagine how Troopergate would have been reported from left of center if Palin were a Democrat. The meme, as liberals like to say, would have been established early and repeated robotically. Led by an outraged Keith Olbermann, with MSNBC bobbleheads dutifully following suit, it would have gone something like this -- stalwart, steely Sarah Palin rushes to help her terrified sister, the victim of a predatory cop being shielded by a misogynist still simmering from his own bitter divorce, both men propping up a corrupt police state and clearly threatened by a powerful woman.

The made-for-TV movie about Palin's brave intervention, "Going for Justice," would have been a ratings blockbuster for Lifetime. 

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts