Another Controversy for Sarah Palin

Former police chief says he was fired for challenging Palin's contributors.


Sept. 3, 2008— -- Gov. Sarah Palin is already facing ethical questions over her firing of the Alaska public safety commissioner, and now she faces questions over the firing of a longtime local police chief.

After taking over as Mayor of the small town of Wasilla, Palin fired the longtime local police chief. The former police chief, Irl Stambaugh says he was fired because he stepped on the toes of Palin's campaign contributors, including bar owners and the National Rifle Association.

Stambaugh's lawyer, William Jermain, says the chief tried to move up the closing hours of local bars from 5 a.m. to two a.m. after a spurt of drunk driving accidents and arrests.

"His crackdown on that practice by the bars was not appreciated by her and that was one reason she terminated Irl," said Jermain.

In his 1997 lawsuit, Stambaugh also alleged that his stand on restricting concealed weapons upset the NRA.

"Mayor Palin has stated on several occasions that the National Rifle Association encouraged her to fire Chief Stambaugh because of his stance against the concealed weapons legislation," the lawsuit claimed.

Palin says she was up against entrenched insiders when she was elected mayor of Wasilla in 1996.

"We had a lot of people that were kind of dead wood," said Colleen Sullivan Leonard, a staff member in Palin's office. "We needed people with new energy and a new vision."

A federal judge later ruled the mayor, under city law, had the right to fire the police chief for any reason she wanted.

Palin is now facing similar allegations in the state capitol, that politics played a role in her firing of the Alaska public safety commissioner, Walter Monegan.

"It has every possibility of giving the Governor an ethical black eye in an area where she's touted herself as being particularly strong," said Alaskan State Senator Hollis French, a Democrat.

At issue is whether Palin fired the public safety commissioner because he refused to fire a state trooper who was the Governor's brother-in-law and going through an ugly divorce with the Governor's sister.

The Governor has denied any wrongdoing or involvement in the matter, but Senator French, who is leading the investigation has his doubts.

"The Governor first issued a blanket denial," said Sen. French, "and now she's had to back down and that's a problem."

Monday, Palin called for the Alaskan Personnel Board to conduct a formal investigation into Monegan's dismissal "to put these matters to rest".

"The idea that there had been no contact and no pressure doesn't stand up," said Sen. French. "Her credibility I think was damaged in that blanket denial."

The McCain campaign says it's clear that some insiders don't like the fact that Palin has been bucking the status quo to implement change.

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