October 14, 2008 -- The man at the center of the Sarah Palin "Troopergate" scandal says the Alaska governor lied about him, and he wants his reputation back.
Last month, Palin called her former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan "insubordinate" and accused him of having had a "rogue mentality" while he was part of her administration. She leveled those charges in a filing to the state Personnel Board, justifying her dismissal of Monegan.
Now Monegan has formally complained about those accusations to the same panel, and is asking its members to hold a fact-finding hearing "to clear his good name, remove the stigma he has suffered, and redress his reputational interests."
The board is investigating the Troopergate affair, in which Palin is accused of firing Monegan for his refusal to take action against Mike Wooten, a state trooper once married to Palin's sister, whom the Palins long accused of misbehavior.
Last Friday the state Legislature completed its own review of the matter, finding that Palin violated state ethics laws by allowing her husband to use her office to bring pressure on state employees regarding her long-running animosity towards her sister's trooper ex-husband.
It also concluded that Monegan's refusal to fire Wooten "was not the sole reason" but was "likely a contributing factor" to his firing.
Monegan called Palin's charges against him "absurdly baseless," filled with "disturbing inaccuracies" and "distortions of the record" in filings to the board submitted Monday.
The accusations, his lawyer wrote, were part of an "unwarranted, unfair, and very personal attack on a man who has served the people of Alaska with distinction for almost 35 years."
"[T]hrowing Mr. Monegan under the bus apparently was deemed a suitable, if wholly dishonorable, strategy to try to stem the questions and pressure building in what became known as 'Troopergate,'" wrote attorney Jeff Feldman.
The filing counts four different explanations from Palin for why she fired Monegan, and rebuts each. It also slights Palin aide Randy Ruaro for accusing Monegan of "going off the reservation."
That was both unsubstantiated as well as a "clumsy" choice of words, wrote Feldman, noting Monegan's Tlingit Native heritage, and the state's large Native American population.
"All that Gov. Palin and her spokespeople have done have been to answer the questions he's raised," McCain-Palin spokesman Taylor Griffin said when asked about Monegan's accusations.
Palin's initial explanation for firing Monegan – that she wanted "to move in a new direction" – was a convenient, face-saving measure, given "so as not to embarrass" Monegan with the insubordination accusations, said Griffin. He said Palin leveled her charges of insubordination only after Monegan publicly raised the possibility he was fired over trooper Wooten.
"I guess that would be explanation number five" for Monegan's firing, retorted Feldman.
Asked whether his personnel board filing was an overture to a civil suit against Gov. Palin, Feldman said, "Mr. Monegan seeks only that which was wrongly taken away from him, and that is his good name."