The moose, the trooper – and a scandal that could engulf McCain

Sarah Palin could face criminal charges over sacking of brother-in-law

Could the illegal shooting of a moose in the Alaskan wilderness affect the outcome of the race for the White House? Alaska's lawmakers were last night reviewing a potentially explosive report after their investigation into charges that Sarah Palin abused her power as Governor by sacking a senior official because he refused to bow to her wishes in a vendetta against her estranged brother-in-law.

The report's focus is on the sacking in July of former Alaska public safety commissioner Walter Monegan. Mr Monegan, who ran the state police force, claims he was ousted because he refused to sack Mike Wooten, the ex-husband of Mrs Palin's sister. One of the complaints given by Ms Palin's aides against Mr Wooten was that he pulled the trigger that felled a moose without a licence.

The findings could wreak havoc with John McCain's already faltering presidential hopes by reopening questions about his failure to vet his running mate. There is even a possibility of a criminal investigation into Mrs Palin. A scandal would, at best, be an unwelcome distraction for Mr McCain in the crucial final weeks of the election. The inquiry added to claims that Mr McCain is erratic at a time when steady leadership is needed.

The bipartisan investigation began before Ms Palin was picked as John McCain's running mate. Mrs Palin, who did not co-operate with the inquiry, denies any wrongdoing. Her critics allege that she wanted Mr Wooten drummed out of the police force on technicalities including that he illegally killed a moose during a family hunting expedition in 2003 when he was still married to her Ms Palin's sister, Molly. Molly had a hunting licence but her husband fired the fatal shot and the animal was eaten by the entire extended Palin family.

The tensions with Mr Wooten appear to long predate Sarah Palin's ascent to the governorship. After Mr Wooten had a bitter custody battle with Molly in 2005, Mrs Palin wrote a three-page email to Colonel Julia Grimes, who was then head of the state police force, accusing Mr Wooten of threatening to murder her father, driving on duty while drunk, using a stun gun on his 11-year-old stepson, shooting the moose without a permit, failing to pay a $5 fine for improper rubbish disposal, using illegal steroids and drinking while in his patrol car"

"Wooten is my brother-in-law, but this information is forwarded to you objectively," Mrs Palin wrote.

Todd Palin, although a private citizen whom the Governor refers to as the "First Dude" is accused of hounding officials to have Mr Wooten sacked.

He acknowledged this week in testimony to the inquiry that he made phone calls and convened meetings claiming Mr Wooten was a dangerous, unstable man who had threatened his family and should be dismissed. He said he made "no apology for wanting to protect my family". At one meeting in January 2007, according to the New York Times, the Governor's husband showed Mr Monegan pictures of the dead moose.

A subsequent inquiry found Mr Wooten guilty of "unacceptable and at times illegal activity". He was given a five-day suspension and warned he would be dismissed if he offended again.

The case, known in Alaska as "Troopergate", would never have exploded into the race for the White House if the matter had been allowed to rest at that.

But Mr Monegan claims the pressure on him to fire Mike Wooten intensified after the suspension. Mrs Palin denies instructing Mr Monegan to sack Mr Wooten and claims she sacked him over policy differences.

Earlier, the McCain campaign gave its version of events, portraying the argument as a legitimate policy dispute and political event. "The following document will prove Walt Monegan's dismissal was a result of his insubordination and budgetary clashes with Governor Palin," the campaign said.

As the lawmakers met yesterday, Palin supporters wearing clown noses and carrying balloons greeted them with cheers that "the circus is in town".

Mr Monegan said: "I just hope the truth is fgured out. That the governor did want me to fire Mr Wooten and I chose not to. You just can't walk up to someone and say, 'I fire you'. He didn't do anything under my watch toresult in termination."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Arts and Entertainment
Shelley Duvall stars in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
filmCritic Kaleem Aftab picks his favourites for Halloween
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Sport
Luke Shaw’s performance in the derby will be key to how his Manchester United side get on
footballBeating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Life and Style
Google's doodle celebrating Halloween 2014
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior IP Opportunity at Major Firm

vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes