Man who made controversial call on leave

Bailey to draw his annual salary while Palin investigation continues

Posted: Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gov. Sarah Palin placed the state's director of boards and commissions on paid administrative leave Tuesday while an investigation continues into whether she abused her power when firing former public safety commissioner Walt Monegan.

Frank Bailey was one of several officials who placed a call to the Alaska State Troopers questioning the employment of an officer who went through a messy divorce with Palin's sister.

Monegan has said he felt pressure to fire the trooper, Mike Wooten.

Palin denies firing Monegan because he refused to dismiss the trooper.

But last week, she acknowledged that at least two dozen calls were made by staff members to Public Safety Department officials questioning Wooten's employment, including one by Bailey that was retained on tape.

The Palin family had accused Wooten of illegal hunting, firing a Taser at his 11-year-old stepson and threatening a family member. The allegations led to an internal investigation, which occurred before Sarah Palin ran for governor.

Bailey has said he made the phone call on his own without knowledge of Palin or her husband, Todd.

Nearly a week later after the call was made public, Palin announced her decision to place Bailey on leave. He will continue to draw his annual salary of $78,528.

The investigation into Monegan's firing is being done at the behest of the Legislative Council, which hired former Anchorage prosecutor Stephen Branchflower.

The council approved $100,000 for the investigation but so far has committed to spending only $45,000 through Oct. 31. The investigation is expected to take at least three months.

Palin spokesman Bill McAllister said Bailey is expected to cooperate in Branchflower's investigation.

"While he is a state employee the governor can direct him to cooperate with Mr. Branchflower, fulfilling her pledge that the administration will cooperate fully with the investigation," McAllister said.

Bailey could not be reached for comment. McAllister said Bailey has been in his office just once briefly since the announcement last Wednesday.

"There may an occasion when someone needs to call and ask a work-related question, but he will not be on the 17th floor of the Atwood Building," McAllister said of Bailey's limited role.

Bailey's conversation is one of about two dozen discussions discovered during an internal investigation conducted by the Department of Law, which began after the legislative panel hired Branchflower.

A recording of Bailey's conversation and notes from others were turned over to Branchflower last week.

But it was Bailey's conversation with a trooper, Ketchikan-based Lt. Rodney Dial, that Palin said last week was "most disturbing" and "problematic."

"Mr. Bailey seemed to be speaking on my behalf, but Mr. Bailey was not speaking for me," Palin said last week. "His comments were unauthorized as well as just wrong."

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