It’s fair to say that Trooper-Gate hasn’t exactly burnished Sarah Palin’s reputation for honesty. And in a conference call she gave Saturday to respond to the legislature’s report on the affair released Friday night, that reputation took another hit.
Palin opened her remarks by declaring:
I’m very very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing … any hint of any kind of unethical activity there.
But of course, it’s simply untrue that the report cleared Palin of legal wrongdoing or unethical activity.
Steve Branchflower did conclude that Palin was within her rights to fire Walt Monegan — since, as governor, she can fire any executive branch official for any reason.
But he also concluded, just as definitively, that Palin pressured and intimidated subordinates in trying to force the firing of Mike Wooten. In doing so, Branchflower wrote, she violated a state ethics law which says that “any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action” is a violation of the public trust.
When an Anchorage Daily News reporter followed up by reminding the governor of this finding, she did not respond directly.
(Below is the audio from the call, preceded by some video footage from over the weekend of Palin calling the Trooper-Gate inquiry “a partisan kind of process.”)
In the call, Palin also asserted that the inquiry “did turn into a partisan circus” — perhaps forgetting that it had been launched through a unanimous vote of the bipartisan legislative council, and that the council voted unanimously again on Friday to release the report to the public.
And asked how she felt about having called Walt Monegan, a widely respected public servant, a “rogue”, she replied: “‘Rogue’ isn’t a negative term.”