Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin was cleared tonight by a state personel board of any ethics violations in the firing of Alaska's public safety commissioner.
The report from Timothy Petumenos, an independent counsel for the Alaska Personnel Board, says there is no probable cause to believe Palin, Alaska's governor, or any other state official violated the Alaska Executive Ethics Act in connection with the firing of Walter Monegan.
A separate legislative investigation concluded last month that Palin "abused her power" in seeking to get her former brother-in-law fired from his job as a state trooper. The investigation into the "Troopergate" case found that while public safety commissioner Walter 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." Wooten had been in a messy divorce with Palin's sister.
While the Legislature's investigator found that Palin violated the state's ethics law that bans public officials from using their offices for personal gain, it did not say whether Palin should be censured by the Legislature or whether the matter should be referred for criminal investigation.
The report faulted the governor, saying she "knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda, to wit: To get Trooper Michael Wooten fired." It also said that Palin "knowingly" let her husband, Todd, use the resources of the governor's office "to find some way to get Trooper Wooten fired."
UPDATE: Palin has maintained that she fired Monegan over budget disagreements.
In a statement, Palin's lawyer said she was pleased with the ruling, which proves that the legislative probe's conclusion was wrong. "The Governor is grateful that this investigation has provided a fair and impartial review of this matter and upholds the Governor's ability to take measures when necessary to ensure that Alaskans have the best possible team working to serve them," said the statement from Thomas Van Flien.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.