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Ethics inquiry hits Todd Palin

Todd Palin, left, husband of vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, and four-time Iditarod winner Martin Buser, center, greet supporters of John McCain on Saturday in Palmyra, Maine.

Associated Press

Todd Palin, left, husband of vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, and four-time Iditarod winner Martin Buser, center, greet supporters of John McCain on Saturday in Palmyra, Maine.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A month after she became governor, Sarah Palin's staff ushered Alaska's public safety commissioner into her private office.

But Palin wasn't there. Her husband, Todd, had called the meeting. He was frustrated that his former brother-in-law remained on the job as a state trooper, and he prevailed upon the commissioner to get rid of him.

"I thought that was odd and made me a little uncomfortable," said Walter Monegan, the commissioner, who later was fired by Gov. Palin. "We're having it in the governor's office, and he's not the governor. I think he was trying to use state trappings to handle a personal issue."

The January 2007 meeting was part of a long pattern of pressure that the governor and her husband applied on state officials to try to get the trooper fired, according to an Alaska legislative report released Friday. The report said those contacts amounted to an abuse of power and a violation of the state's ethics laws, which prohibit using public office for personal benefit.

But while the condemnation of now-vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin was the conclusion, the nearly 300-page report by investigator Stephen Branchflower was more about her husband. Todd Palin, the self-described "first dude" of Alaska, had extraordinary access to his wife's office, her staff and her power, the report says.

Todd Palin spent about 50 percent of his time in the governor's office, making phone calls, participating in meetings or just hanging out, said Gary Wheeler, a member of Gov. Palin's security detail.

"He had a significant influence, in that he was always interacting with the, the employees there," Wheeler told state investigators. "Any time I needed to get information to the governor, I would always go through Todd."

The governor and her staff kept Todd Palin in the loop on a wide range of issues, copying him on e-mails about union matters, public relations and a bill requiring parental consent for abortions.

His efforts to get Mike Wooten, Sarah Palin's sister's ex-husband, fired were extensive. Todd Palin had dozens of meetings and phone calls with state officials, alleging that Wooten threatened the Palin family, was too unstable to be a trooper, and was cheating the worker's compensation system.

Todd Palin declined to answer a question about the report Saturday while campaigning in New Hampshire. Jeff Grappone, spokesman in New Hampshire for GOP presidential nominee John McCain, said Todd Palin would not take questions from the media during his visit.

In an affidavit he provided to investigators, he made no apologies.

"I have heard criticism that I am too involved in my wife's administration," he wrote. "My wife and I are very close. We are each other's best friend. I have helped her in her career the best I can, and she has helped me."

Ethics inquiry hits Todd Palin 10/11/08 [Last modified: Saturday, October 11, 2008 9:16pm]
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