Aside from what it says about Sarah and Todd Palin, the Trooper-Gate report also appears to paint Mike Tibbles -- the governor's former chief of staff, who's now running Ted Stevens' Senate re-election campaign -- as shockingly incompetent. And that's the best case scenario for Sarah Palin.
To explain: Steve Branchflower writes on page 113 of the report that Walt Monegan told him about a conversation between Monegan and Tibbles, shortly after Palin was inaugurated as governor in January 2007. According to Monegan, Tibbles asked Monegan to consider hiring Chuck Kopp, formerly the police chief of Kenai, for a job in the public safety department.
As a result, said Monegan, he met with Kopp. When Monegan asked Kopp whether there was anything in Kopp's background that Monegan should be aware of before hiring him, Kopp revealed that, as Kenai police chief, he had been reprimanded over a sexual harassment allegation, though he maintained that it was bogus.
Monegan told Branchflower that the next day, he talked to Tibbles. "I disclosed what Chuck had told me," said Monegan. Tibbles responded that, in that case, they had "better steer clear from [Kopp] for a while."
But in a separate part of the report (page 43) that we noted earlier, Branchflower writes that in July 2008, Kopp was hired as public safety commissioner -- replacing Monegan -- after being interviewed for the job by two Palin aides for just 30 minutes, and without speaking directly to the governor about it at all.
Just two weeks later, Branchflower writes, Kopp resigned the post, when the sexual harrassment reprimand surfaced. Adds Branchflower: "Apparently, that was a fact that the governor's office did not know about when Mr. Kopp was offered the commissioner's job."
Indeed, at the time, the governor's office said publicly that at the time Kopp was hired, the governor knew of the allegation but understood it to be baseless, and was unaware of the letter of reprimand.
But the report suggests that Tibbles -- who, just four days before Kopp's hiring, was announced as Stevens' campaign manager -- did know about the reprimand, because Monegan had told him about it back in January 2007.
In other words, if Branchflower is correct, Tibbles failed to pass on to his colleagues in the governor's office his knowledge of Kopp's reprimand, setting them up to hire for a high-profile position a man with a significant black mark on his record.
It's also possible, of course, that Branchflower has erred in writing that the governor's office didn't know about Kopp's reprimand when it hired him. Perhaps Tibbles did pass along the information, but Palin and her aides, in their haste to find a replacement for Monegan, decided to overlook it and hire Kopp anyway, trusting that the issue would not resurface.
Tibbles did not immediately respond to a detailed request for comment.
So either Palin's chief of staff was jaw-droppingly incompetent, or she knowingly hired as the state's top law enforcement official a man who had been reprimanded for sexual harassment, then lied to the press about it. Neither alternative is flattering.