According to the Associated Press:
A legislative committee investigating Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has found she unlawfully abused her authority in firing the state’s public safety commissioner. The investigative report concludes that a family grudge wasn’t the sole reason for firing Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan but says it likely was a contributing factor.
If AP’s report is accurate, it looks like the committee thought that (1) Gov. Palin had, and acted based at least in part on, legitimate reasons for firing the commissioner, but (2) an illegitimate reason — the unwillingness of the commissiner to fire Palin’s former brother-in-law — probably played a part in her decision too.
This sort of “mixed motive” finding, familiar to employment lawyers, is usually highly debatable. Here, as I understand it, Gov. Palin has said that Commissioner Monegan was dismissed for not adequately filling state trooper vacancies and fighting alcohol abuse problems, and because he was not “a team player on budgeting issues.” The committee apparently concluded that one or more of these reasons actually did motivate Palin. Unless Palin made comments indicating that the “family grudge” also factored into the decision, the finding that it did seems like, in essence, an act of mind-reading.
Is the committee’s decision as speculative as it sounds? Are the inferences that led the commission to its decision compelling, or at least reasonable? We’ll find out when we read the report.
JOHN adds: I haven’t read the report, either, but I have zero confidence in it. The entire “investigation” was a political farce. This is the statement the McCain/Palin campaign put out:
Today’s report shows that the Governor acted within her proper and lawful authority in the reassignment of Walt Monegan. The report also illustrates what we’ve known all along: this was a partisan led inquiry run by Obama supporters and the Palins were completely justified in their concern regarding Trooper Wooten given his violent and rogue behavior. Lacking evidence to support the original Monegan allegation, the Legislative Council seriously overreached, making a tortured argument to find fault without basis in law or fact. The Governor is looking forward to cooperating with the Personnel Board and continuing her conversation with the American people regarding the important issues facing the country.
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