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
News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Extras
indybest

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Life and Style
news

As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Network Engineer - CCNP, Hedge Fund, London

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer - CCNP, Hedge Fu...

Senior Network Engineer-CCIE, Multicast, Low Latency

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-CCIE, Mul...

Network Infrastructure Engineer

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Infrastructure Engineer (...

Network Engineer (CCNP, BGP, Multicast)

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, BGP, Mult...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition