October 14, 2008


Runaway Justice: Sarah and Todd Palin’s reaction to their brother-in-law is understandable, but it crossed a line. (Jim Geraghty, 10/14/08, National Review)

The following facts about Sarah Palin’s brother in-law, Mike Wooten, were confirmed by a 2005 State Police investigation:

He used a Taser on his stepson.

He shot a moose without a license, violating a law he has responsibility for enforcing.

He drank beer in his patrol car on one occasion.

He told others his father-in-law would “eat a [expletive]ing lead bullet” if he helped his daughter get an attorney for the divorce.

Wooten’s tenure with the Alaska State Police also includes a reprimand in January 2004 for negligent damage to a state vehicle; a January 2005 instruction after being accused of speeding, unsafe lane changes, following too closely and not using turn signals in his state vehicle; a June 2005 instruction regarding personal cell phone calls; an October 2005 suspension from work after getting a speeding ticket; and a November 2005 memo “to clarify duty hours, tardiness and personal business during duty time.”

At the conclusion of the 2005 investigation, the State Police concluded Wooten exhibited “a significant pattern of judgment failures,” and decided the appropriate discipline was… a ten-day suspension.

After this, Palin and her husband Todd clearly made efforts to get the State Police to investigate and reinvestigate his misbehavior, and there is little doubt they wanted Wooten fired.

Reading the state special counsel’s report, one concludes that the actions of the Palins were legal and completely understandable, and yet crossed a line in their persistence.

Their reaction is entirely understandable; even if every unverified allegation is untrue, the various violations of law, police policy, and good judgment confirmed by Wooten’s superiors obviously warrants a lot more than two weeks off. Nonetheless, the actions of the Palins led to a series of high-ranking state officials contacting the state police to reopen their investigation of the guy, and the governor had to know how that would look. [...]

Palin’s intervention in the matter appears to be a unique set of circumstances; there is no evidence to suggest this is part of a sweeping and far-reaching pattern of abusing her office. If Sarah Palin responded to Wooten’s pattern of dangerous behavior in a manner that crossed an ethical boundary, her response can also be called “human.”

The strongest mitigating factor is actually just how open their pursuit of Mr. Wooten was. They made no bones about it.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at October 14, 2008 7:46 AM
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