I've known and respected many Alaska State Troopers in my 60 years in Alaska. But amazingly, now it appears that the most corrupt Good Old Boy network is Alaska's Department of Public Safety.
Troopergate allegations that Gov. Sarah Palin, her staff or husband, Todd, used undue influence to get Trooper Mike Wooten fired were unfounded since he wasn't fired. The Troopergate investigation, however, documented the reasons why he should have been. I believe this because of information about the investigation into Wooten, disclosed by union representative John Cyr.
Trooper Col. Julia Grimes in her disciplinary memo to Wooten stated, "It is nearly certain that a civilian investigated under similar circumstances would have received criminal sanctions."
Alaska Sen. Hollis French, head of the Troopergate investigation, is spending $100,000 in public funds plus forcing the Department of Law to spend another $95,000 to investigate. His investigation should expose public corruption.
In Alaska, we do not have one set of laws for the common folk and one for the troopers. Troopergate exposes hindering prosecution, covering up crimes, and obstruction of justice by troopers, supervisors and union representatives to protect one of their own.
In Alaska, it is a crime to drive drunk. Instead of being arrested, when a bartender reported Wooten driving drunk in his patrol car, the trooper who pulled Wooten over told him to park his car and drove him home. No Breathalyzer, no sobriety tests.
If a citizen, not a trooper, Tasered his kid, he would be arrested on a charge of child abuse.
If a citizen, not a trooper, shot a moose without a proper license, he would be arrested on a charge of illegal taking of game.
If a citizen, not a trooper, were drinking beer in a moving vehicle, he'd be arrested on a charge of operating a vehicle with an open container of alcohol.
In America, if a man with a gun threatens the life of your family member, you and any citizen have the right to go to the authorities and demand both protection and prosecution of the crime. Did the trooper who investigated this threat witnessed on the life of a member of Palin's family prosecute or cover up the crime?
Wooten walked on each accusation documented in his personnel file. With each count, his fellow troopers and supervisors hindered prosecution and covered up Wooten's crimes. They violated their oath of office to enforce the law they were sworn to uphold.
Crimes are not personnel matters. Troopergate confirmed Wooten's multiple crimes. The cover-up of crimes is the foundation of public corruption just as it was long ago in Watergate.
After a lengthy internal investigation, these crimes were just footnotes in his personnel file. The accusations that he committed crimes were covered up and papered over by his union and supervisors at the Alaska Department of Public Safety.
Former prosecutor and Troopergate investigator Steve Branchflower must investigate the alleged failure to prosecute crimes and their cover-up. Former prosecutor and Troopergate man in charge French must find out on whose authority Wooten's supervisors allegedly consistently hindered prosecution of accused crimes and obstructed justice. Just how far did this poison reach?
And French must disclose his findings on these matters to all Alaskans.
French is spending $195,000 from the public purse on Troopergate. Troopergate has been used to bludgeon Palin and her staff for rooting out the corrupt Good Old Boy practices in Public Safety. Wooten was the tip of the iceberg. If Troopers, supervisors and union representatives participated in hindering prosecution or conspiracy to cover up the alleged crimes of Wooten, they also violated the law. Those responsible must be removed from office and stand trial for their crimes. And it must be done quickly.
Palin was elected governor of Alaska to find and remove corruption. Firing Commissioner Walt Monegan, who possibly protected Wooten and his supervisors from prosecution, is apparently only the first step in rooting out corruption in his former department. Let's get it done quickly. After removing the stain of Troopergate from Alaska, Palin can start a similar job in Washington, D.C.
Jim Crawford is the former chairman of the Reagan and Dole presidential campaigns for Alaska, former finance chairman for the Alaska Bush for President Campaign and former chairman of the Alaska Republican Party and a Palin supporter. He may be reached at C21jcrawford@aol.com.
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