Palin cleared by board in 'Troopergate'

A state personnel board rejects the findings by an earlier probe that Sarah Palin abused her office as governor of Alaska.

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The Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin did not abuse her office as governor of Alaska in the "Troopergate" case, a state personnel board said yesterday. The decision rejects the findings of an earlier probe by the state legislature. The report was released the day before the US presidential elections in which Ms Palin's role in the case became political fodder in the campaign. "There is no probable cause to believe that Governor Palin violated the Alaska Executive Ethics Act by making the decision to dismiss Department of Public Safety Commissioner (Walt) Monegan and offering him instead the position of Director of the Alaska Beverage Control Board," the board said.

Last month an investigation commissioned by the state legislature found Ms Palin had violated ethics rules when she dismissed Monegan in July, allegedly because he refused to fire a state trooper, her former brother-in-law. Ms Palin requested the second investigation be conducted by the state personnel board after alleging the legislature's probe was politically motivated. The board's report, posted on the Anchorage Daily News website, also found that no other state official had violated ethics rules and that there was no need to hold a hearing on "reputational harm" done to Monegan, which he requested.

The board did say that the use of "private e-mails for government work" needed to be addressed, an apparent reference to Ms Palin at times using her personal e-mail account for state business. Mr Monegan claimed he was fired because of his refusal to sack Mr Wooten, who had been involved in an acrimonious divorce with Ms Palin's younger sister in 2005. The legislature's inquiry, carried out by a special counsel, found that while Ms Palin was within her rights as Alaska governor to dismiss Mr Monegan, she had breached ethics rules by allowing her husband to badger officials into firing Mr Wooten.

Ms Palin refused to testify in the first investigation but co-operated with the second probe. The personnel board's report said there was no evidence to show the governor was pushing to have her former brother-in-law sacked. The report said that "absent from the evidence reviewed is any assertion that the Governor directed anyone in the Department of Public Safety to terminate Trooper Wooten, or directed anyone on her staff to seek the termination of Trooper Wooten."