Troopergate Continues Palin Drag on McCain Campaign
In the end, the biggest victory for the McCain-Palin team regarding Troopergate was in getting the results of the investigation released late on a Friday night. That’s not such an effective tactic these days, however, as this will likely be the only story besides the economy making the rounds of the Sunday morning shows and Monday headlines. While four different points were addressed in the report, the one which will be touted the most is as follows:
Palin violated the state’s executive branch ethics act, which says that “each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.”
The report says Palin failed to rein in her husband’s inappropriate efforts to use the governor’s office to contact trooper employees in his attempts to have Wooten fired.
“Governor Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda … to get Trooper Michael Wooten fired,” Branchflower’s report says.
“Compliance with the code of ethics is not optional. It is an individual responsibility imposed by law, and any effort to benefit a personal interest through official action is a violation of that trust. … The term ‘benefit’ is very broadly defined, and includes anything that is to the person’s advantage or personal self-interest.”
The result of this is that the report will be turned over to the President of the State Senate for possible disciplinary action. McCain’s supporters are already in full swing, furiously trying to spin the report into something palatable, but it’s hard to see this as anything but another black eye for the Arizona Senator’s campaign. The responses will say that Palin didn’t technically break any laws. (Well, I suppose that’s technically true on some levels, assuming you don’t think of ethics laws as… errr, you know.. “laws.’) They are also decrying the investigation as a partisan witch hunt. (The panel convened to investigate this was comprised of eight Republicans and four Democrats.)
The bottom line in the war of perceptions, though, seems to be clear. Before even winning the election, say nothing of moving to Washington, the potential Vice President is under a cloud of ethics questions and has the phrase “abuse of power” permanently attached to her name. The timing of all this would appear suspicious had the investigation not begun long before John McCain selected her as his running mate. The fact that Palin initially claimed to “welcome” the investigation, but later went into Silent Running mode won’t sell very well either. Apparently we’ll not be seeing any sort of real investigation into the Mat Maid Dairy situation before the election, nor will the names Kyle Beus, Matt Bobbich, Franci Havemeister and her amazingly-prosperous father-in-law Bob bubble to the top of the news cycle. But even without that, the Troopergate investigation will likely raise some eyebrows about the simple Washington outsider, hockey mom and Joe Sixpack candidate for the VP’s office.