Palin fires back in Troopergate, releases memos showing insubordination

Sarah Palin issued a response to the Troopergate investigation yesterday by releasing internal memoranda that show Walt Monegan got fired for insubordination on budget matters and not because of his refusal to fire Palin’s former brother-in-law.  Monegan went behind Palin’s back to attempt to revive a project Palin had vetoed, which “stunned” the Office of Management and Budget Director.  On another occasion, Monegan held a press conference with Hollis French to dissent from Palin’s budget priorities — the same Hollis French pushing the ethics complaint against Palin:

Walt Monegan lost his job as public safety director because he resisted Gov. Sarah Palin’s budget policies and showed “outright insubordination,” say papers the governor’s lawyer filed Monday with the state Personnel Board.

It was Palin’s strongest effort yet to snuff allegations she sacked Monegan because he refused to fire a state trooper involved in an ugly divorce with the governor’s sister.

Along with the papers filed Monday were a slew of e-mails from the governor’s office purporting to show Monegan’s “rogue mentality” as a member of Palin’s Cabinet.

In one message, the governor’s budget director, Karen Rehfeld, wrote that she was “stunned and amazed” that Monegan appeared to be working with a powerful state legislator, Anchorage Republican Rep. Kevin Meyer, to seek funding for a project Palin previously had vetoed.

According to the papers filed by Palin’s legal team, that was not the only instance of insubordination from Monegan:

  • 12/9/07: Monegan holds a press conference with Hollis French to push his own budget plan.
  • 1/29/08: Palin’s staffers have to rework their procedures to keep Monegan from bypassing normal channels for budget requests.
  • February 2008: Monegan publicly releases a letter he wrote to Palin supporting a project she vetoed.
  • June 26, 2008: Monegan bypassed the governor’s office entirely and contacted Alaska’s Congressional delegation to gain funding for a project.

From this presentation, it looks like Monegan had decided from the start to be a loose cannon in the Palin administration.  The wonder of this isn’t that he got fired — it’s how he managed to hang onto his job as long as he did.  The response calls Monegan’s trip to Washington the “final straw”, and it’s not difficult to see why.   Monegan even admitted it in his valedictory e-mail to his colleagues, saying that he “had waited too long outside her door for her to believe that I supported her.”  Nor did Monegan file an ethics complaint, as the law would have required him to do, if he felt his termination violated state ethics laws.  (Palin filed the complaint herself to argue the case.)

As the filing states, Monegan served as a political appointee, at the pleasure of the Governor.  Obviously, Monegan didn’t act to support Palin’s budget initiatives, often acting in opposition to them.  In anyone’s administration, that will result in dismissal.  Monegan kicked himself out of the job through his own acts.