The Alaska state trooper who was the subject of harsh allegations by Gov. Sarah Palin was taken off patrols recently for his own safety, after her comments allegedly prompted a series of threatening phone calls, KIMO-TV in Anchorage reported Friday.
In the early months of Palin's administration, Palin, her husband and top aides worked to get the trooper, Mike Wooten, booted from the ranks of the Alaska State Troopers, according to two separate investigations into what eventually erupted into the "Troopergate" scandal.
In comments to the media and documents released to the public, Palin accused Wooten, her ex-brother-in-law, of making death threats against her family, drinking on duty, tasering his 10-year-old stepson and shooting a moose out of season, among other things.
"The trooper in question here did conduct dangerous and illegal activities," Palin told ABC News' Charlie Gibson Sept. 12, in her first nationally-televised interview after joining the GOP ticket as its vice presidential candidate. Wooten "threatened to kill my dad and. . . his threats were he was going to bring down the governor and the governor's family," she said.
Wooten has denied the claims or said his actions were misrepresented. His supporters have said Wooten was unfairly targeted by Palin and her family, because of his prolonged custody battle with Palin's sister, Molly.
Following Palin's comments about Wooten in the national media, "people with little or no knowledge of the situation call and make complaints, make threats, talk about what a danger he is," explained John Cyr, head of the Alaska trooper's union, to KIMO. "All it takes is one person to show up and do something stupid." Sources at the Department of Public Safety confirmed Cyr's account to KIMO, an ABC affiliate.
Wooten is now working a desk job, KIMO reported. The troopers' union has expressed concern because the new position means he can no longer earn overtime pay.
Palin fired her then-Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan in July, after he repeatedly declined to take action against Wooten beyond the short suspension ordered by an internal agency review.
The first Troopergate investigation, by the Alaska legislature, found that Palin had broken state ethics laws in her quest to punish Wooten. The second probe, by the state's gubernatorially-appointed Personnel Board, found she did not. Palin did not respond to inquiries from KIMO.