An independent investigator hired by the Alaska Personnel Board has determined that state prosecutor Steve Branchflower miscontrued evidence and applied the wrong state laws to determine that Sarah Palin abused her office by firing Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.
The report provides vindication for Sarah Palin who had claimed that Branchflower's investigation had been motivated by partisan politics.
The board decided to release the normally secret findings after Palin waived her privacy rights. According to Fox News the board released the findings as a matter of public interest due to Palin's status as John McCain's running mate in tomorrows election.
The first investigation found that Palin violated no laws and was within her right to dismiss the state employee yet Branchflower spun it in a way to make it appear that Palin abused her position as governor. The media was glad to run with the abuse of power angle as noted here on Newsbusters.
The Anchorage Daily News released the findings by special investigator Timothy Petumenos.
The report, released at a Monday afternoon press conference at the Hotel Captain Cook, presents the findings and recommendations of Anchorage lawyer Timothy Petumenos, hired as independent counsel for the Personnel Board to examine several complaints against Palin.
Petumenos wrote the Legislature's special counsel, former state prosecutor Steve Branchflower, used the wrong state law as the basis for his conclusions and also misconstrued the evidence.
His findings and recommendations include:
- There is no cause to believe Palin violated the state ethics law in deciding to dismiss Monegan as public safety commissioner.
- There is no cause to believe Palin violated the state ethics law in connection with Wooten.
- There is no cause to believe any other state official violated the ethics act.
- There's no basis to conduct a hearing to "address reputational harm," as requested by Monegan.
- The state needs to address the issue of using private e-mails for government work and to examine how records are kept in the governor's office. Palin used her Yahoo e-mail account for state business until it was hacked.
We'll see if the mainstream media follows up on this report with the same sort of vigor as they did with the tabloid style headlines that painted Sarah Palin as guilty in the first investigation. I'm not holding my breath.
Update: Sarah Palin's attorney has released a statement:
"Governor Palin is pleased that the independent investigator for the Personnel Board has concluded that she acted properly in the reassignment of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. The Governor is grateful that this investigation has provided a fair and impartial review of this matter and upholds the Governor's ability to take measures when necessary to ensure that Alaskans have the best possible team working to serve them.
"Additionally, Mr. Petumenos determined that the Branchflower report's findings that Governor Palin abused her power had no legal basis and that Governor Palin did not violate the Ethics Act as Mr. Branchflower incorrectly asserted."