Looks like the McCain campaign’s attempt at preemptive spin was justified. The Alaska Legislature’s Troopergate report is out (PDF) and concludes that Sarah Palin abused her powers as governor in the firing of the public safety commissioner. Here’s the write-up by the Associated Press:
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Sarah Palin unlawfully abused her power as governor by trying to have her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper, the chief investigator of an Alaska legislative panel concluded Friday. The politically charged inquiry imperiled her reputation as a reformer on John McCain’s Republican ticket.
Investigator Stephen Branchflower, in a report to a bipartisan panel that looked into the matter, found Palin in violation of a state ethics law that prohibits public officials from using their office for personal gain.
The inquiry looked into her dismissal of Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan, who said he lost his job because he resisted pressure to fire a state trooper involved in a bitter divorce and custody battle with the governor’s sister. Palin says Monegan was fired as part of a legitimate budget dispute.
Monegan’s firing was lawful, the report found, but Palin let the family grudge influence her decision-making — even if it was not the sole reason Monegan was dismissed.
This goes back to McCain campaign’s VP vetting process and ultimate decision in asking Palin to be on the ticket. Why the hell did they think it was a good idea to have a candidate who was under an active investigation whose final report was due weeks before the election? It wasn’t a big secret, a simple Google search would have uncovered it. Even though this is the sort of thing the Right used to scream bloody murder about during the Clinton presidency, the GOP base will still love Palin anyway, come hell or high water, and I don’t think it’s going to change any minds among Democratic voters who weren’t going to vote for her anyway.
The ultimate damage to this may be long term, after this campaign is over. If McCain loses and Palin goes back to being governor of Alaska, the rest of her term will be clouded by this investigation. When she’s up for reelection in 2010, it will come back to haunt her, either in the form of a primary challenge or from her Democratic opponent. If she had been exonerated and if she were a genuine asset to the GOP ticket right now, she would have been the frontrunner for her party’s nomination in 2012. Instead, this will be her first, and likely only, shot at national office.