The Branchflower Report

Yesterday investigator Steve Branchflower delivered his 263 page report on Troopergate to the Alaska Legislative Council, which voted unanimously to release it to the public. You can download it here (PDF link). Here are key findings:

“For the reasons explained in section IV of this report, I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act.” [Branchflower Report to the Alaska Legislative Council, Page 8]

“The Attorney General’s office has failed to substantially comply with my August 6, 2008 written request to Governor Sarah Palin for information about the case in the form of emails.” [Branchflower Report to the Alaska Legislative Council, Page 8]

“I find that, although Walt Monegan’s refusal to fire Trooper Michael Wooten was not the sole reason he was fired by Governor Sarah Palin, it was likely a contributing factor to his termination as commissioner of Public Safety.” [Branchflower Report to the Alaska Legislative Council, Page 8]

“The terms of my contract with the Legislative Council establish the framework within which I have been required to conduct my investigation and make my findings….Todd Palin is not an employee of the executive branch, so his conduct is not a violation of AS 39.52.010 – 39.52.965. Given the terms of the contract, I make no findings as to Mr. Palin’s conduct.” [Branchflower Report to the Alaska Legislative Council, pg. 67-8]

“Compliance with the code of ethics is not optional.” [Branchflower Report to the Alaska Legislative Council, p 65]

“The evidence supports the conclusion that Governor Palin, at the least, engaged in ‘official action’ by her inaction if not her active participation or assistance to her husband in attempting to get Trooper Wooten fired [and there is evidence of her active participation. She knowingly, as that term is defined in the above cited statutes, permitted Todd Palin to use the Governor’s office and the resources of the Governor’s office, including access to state employees, to continue to contact subordinate state employees in an effort to find some way to get Trooper Wooten fired. Her conduct violated AS 39.52.110(a) of the Ethics Act.” [Branchflower Report to the Alaska Legislative Council, p 65-6]

“Governor Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda.” [Branchflower Report to the Alaska Legislative Council, p 66]

“In this case, Governor Palin has declined to provide an interview. An interview would have assisted everyone to better understand her motives and perhaps help explain why she was so apparently intent upon Trooper Wooten fired in spite of the fact she knew he had been disciplined following the Administrative Investigation.” [Branchflower Report to the Alaska Legislative Council, p 66]

Alaska Democratic Party chair Patti Higgins response frames the pushback the McCain-Palin campaign should receive for politicizing the investigation, obstructing the investigation, and smearing the public servants who took their job seriously enough to conduct themselves professionally:

“The finding of the Legislative Council’s investigator that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska’s ethics act is deeply troubling. Governor Palin has violated Alaskans’ trust. I hope that in light of this finding Governor Palin will stop playing partisan politics to the detriment of Alaska’s future.

“I believe there are three key points that Alaskans will appreciate. First, this investigation began with a unanimous vote of a bi-partisan committee. Second, the investigation was conducted in a professional and confidential manner. Third, the unanimous vote of Democrats and Republicans to release this report after it was read demonstrates that this is not a partisan process as alleged by Senator McCain and Governor Palin,” Higgins said.

Higgins statement doesn’t suggest a legislative response. At minimum, I hope the Alaska legislature brings up the report before the full body and considers what consequences should be handed out to Gov. Palin and those individuals who avoided subpoenas. A lot of people in Alaska, from both sides of aisle, are furious about how the McCain-Palin campaign has treated the state since she was picked as his VP. If she loses the election, she will not be returning to a friendly legislature. I don’t know if they will pursue impeachment (at this point I’d be surprised), but she is going to have a difficult time getting her agenda done. My guess is a coalition of Democrats and anti-Palin Republicans will be able to render the Republican majority moot on many of Palin’s pet issues.

Hopefully the Obama campaign can take the Branchflower findings and remind American voters that Palin is a vindictive power abuser who is completely unprepared to be anywhere near the Oval Office.

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