Walt Monegan Wants Public Hearing to Clear Name in Troopergate Scandal

Former Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan

Former Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan

Alaska’s former public safety commissioner Walt Monegan, whose firing by Governor Sarah Palin lead to the Troopergate ethic investigation, is requesting a hearing by the Alaska Personnel Board in a effort to clear his name.  The Anchorage Daily News reports that Monegan on Monday, October 13, 2008 filed the hearing request through his attorney.  Walt Monegan seeks to clear his reputation from allegations by Gov. Palin and her various spokespersons that he was a “rogue” and “insubordinate” fired because of a demonstrated “rogue mentality.” 

Gov. Sarah Palin’s former public safety commissioner says the governor smeared him and he wants a hearing to clear his name.

Walt Monegan on Monday asked the state personnel board to allow him a chance to disprove the vice presidential nominee’s assertion he was a “rogue” and insubordinate commissioner. The board is investigating Palin’s July dismissal of Monegan.

“Governor Palin’s public statements accusing Mr. Monegan of serious misconduct were untrue and they have stigmatized his good name, severely damaged — and continue to damage — his reputation, and impaired his ability to pursue future professional employment in law enforcement and related fields,” said the hearing request filed by Monegan’s lawyer, Jeff Feldman.

Palin’s lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, said the governor didn’t defame Monegan.

“We welcome the opportunity to put on all of our evidence regarding Mr. Monegan’s performance,” he said. “Whether the personnel board will, or can, allow this, remains unknown.”

Monegan wants the board to hold a hearing and issue public findings on whether he demonstrated a “rogue mentality” and engaged in insubordination. If the board doesn’t grant the hearing, Monegan indicated he might take the matter to court.

The Legislature on Friday completed its investigation of Palin’s removal of Monegan and whether the governor improperly pressured the public safety department to fire a state trooper who was divorced from her sister. The investigator hired by the Legislative Council, Steve Branchflower, found Palin abused her power by allowing pressure on the department and that Monegan’s refusal to dump Wooten was likely a contributing factor, but not the only reason, she fired him.

Palin has the right to fire commissioners as she sees fit. Monegan said he accepts that but not false attacks made on him to justify the move to the public.

“The evidence, combined with the governor’s changing, inconsistent and implausible explanations, strongly establishes that Mr. Monegan was terminated because he refused to fire Wooten, not because of any supposed failing in his performance as a commissioner,” according to Monegan’s hearing request.

Palin at first would say only that she removed Monegan because she wanted the department to go in a “new direction.” But then, as the controversy grew, she gave other reasons, including budget conflicts with Monegan and his planning of an unauthorized trip to Washington D.C. to lobby for federal money.

Monegan said the governor never complained about his job performance. His filing with the personnel board includes documents backing up his arguments — that he was cooperating on the budget and that the trip to pursue funding to fight sexual assault was in close coordination with the governor’s office. He said much of that information was not included in Branchflower’s report.

Palin’s lawyer, Van Flein, said the governor’s aides have documented their serious problems with Monegan. Even Branchflower concluded Palin had reasons unrelated to Wooten for dismissing Monegan, Van Flein said in an email.

Van Flein said Palin released the reasons behind the commissioner’s removal only when Monegan made “incorrect claims” it was related to Wooten. He said Palin’s first explanation of a “new direction” was a polite euphemism to indicate change without airing all the details.

“Rather than take the cue, Monegan chose to air this laundry in public,” Van Flein said.

Monegan Wants Personnel Board Hearing

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