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Troopergate 2?

For Palinophiles, Palinophobes, and political rubberneckers of all dispositions (I'm somewhere between the latter two categories), the Anchorage Daily News has an interesting piece on alleged political interference in the drug case of Sherry Johnston, the mother of Levi, who has just fathered a child with Bristol Palin. Johnston was served with a warrant and arrested in December 18 on charges of selling the prescription painkiller OxyContin. But Kyle Young, a state trooper who worked on the case, claims that it was delayed because of who Johnston is. In an e-mail to all members of the Public Safety Employees Association, Young wrote:

It was not allowed to progress in a normal fashion, the search warrant service WAS delayed because of the pending election and the Mat Su Drug Unit and the case officer were not the ones calling the shots.

John Cyr, executive director of the union, backs up Young's allegation, saying the union verified it "with the entire drug unit, with all of our members." He added, "There is no reason for the Mat Su drug unit to lie or to falsify the record in this regard. And there is reason, political reason, for the commissioner and other members of the command staff, if you will, to distort what actually happened."

Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Joe Masters--the Palin appointee who replaced* the controversially dismissed Walt Monegan--and troopers director Col. Audie Holloway both deny that there was any political meddling--sort of. Late in the piece, Holloway is described as acknowledging that "the higher ups were indeed scrutinizing everything in the Johnston investigation -- but only to ensure that it was conducted just like any other similar case would be." (There's no direct quote, sadly.)

Perhaps the best tidbit in the piece, though, is Young's citing another, less nefarious way that Sarah Palin's national role interfered with the Johnston investigation: "Text messages from Johnston to the informant indicated that she was afraid to meet and conduct one illegal transaction, because of Secret Service presence at her home."

Update: I've corrected the opening sentence to clarify that I consider myself a semi-Palinophobe, not -phile. If I can obtain legal counsel, I may sue myself for defamation.

--Christopher Orr.   

*Technically, Masters didn't replace Monegan, he replaced Chuck Kopp. Palin appointed Kopp (a "rising star in Alaska's Christian conservative movement," according to the Daily News) to be Public Safety Commissioner in July, but he resigned less than two weeks later after it was made public that in an earlier job he had been investigated and suspended for sexually harrassing an employee. Kopp, who served in the position for 11 days, received a $10,000 severance payment; Monegan, who served in the job for two years, received none.