A former Alaska State Trooper at the center of a high-profile dispute with former Gov. Sarah Palin can no longer conduct law enforcement in Alaska.

The Alaska Police Standards Council announced Thursday that it had revoked its certification of Michael Wooten. The council’s executive director, Kelly Alzaharna, said that the decision during the council's April 20 meeting would be effective for at least a year.

The revocation also places Wooten’s name on the National Decertification Index, a list consulted by police agencies across the U.S. before making hires. The index’s website describes it as “a national registry of certificate or license revocation actions relating to officer misconduct.”
According to data from the state Division of Labor and Personnel Relations, provided to Channel 2 Thursday and first reported by the Anchorage Daily News when Wooten left the force in January 2014, Wooten joined the troopers as a recruit in March 2001, making $40,224 a year. He left in January 2014 after last being assigned to the Emmonak post, where he made $129,783.60 after receiving a 50 percent geographic-pay differential.

The division’s deputy director for labor, Nancy Sutch, said Thursday that state law barred releasing any details about whether Wooten was fired or resigned, or the reason for his departure.

Alzaharna declined to comment specifically on Wooten’s case, but said APSC’s 13 members meet twice annually to review complaints against officers. While the full review process usually takes a few years, that pace can be quickened if an officer declines a hearing on allegations or immediately surrenders a certificate.
Wooten had a long-running dispute with the Palin family dating back to his bitter 2005 divorce from Sarah Palin’s sister, Molly McCann. Superior Court Judge John Suddock likened complaints from the Palins to slaying a golden goose in terms of Wooten’s ability to support McCann, but the feud led to troopers suspending Wooten for the illegal shooting of a moose, as well as using a Taser on his stepson.

Although the incidents occurred before Palin was elected governor in 2006, she later pressured Department of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan to fire Wooten. When Monegan refused to do so and Palin dismissed Monegan, state lawmakers ordered a 2008 investigation of his firing-- a case that gained national notoriety as “Troopergate” later that year, when John McCain drafted Palin as his surprise vice-presidential pick on the GOP ticket.

Despite findings in the Legislature's probe that Palin had abused her power in firing Monegan,Palin claimed the investigation had absolved her of wrongdoing in October 2008, with a separate investigation by the state personnel board finding no wrongdoing by the governor.Palin’s attorney general, Talis Colberg, had also launched a Troopergate investigation -- which prompted critics to point out that her own executive branch was investigating itself.

The case also led to two public complaints against the Palin administration from the men involved. The state Public Safety Employees Association filed an ethics complaint on Wooten’s behalf over potentially unauthorized access to his personnel files, while Monegan filed a complaint saying his reputation had been damaged by the state’s accusations of “serious misconduct” on his part.

Alazharna said Thursday that Wooten could request a hearing in 2016 to have the revocation of his certification rescinded. According to state statute, the council may only restore his certificate if he can provide new evidence that couldn’t have been discovered before the revocation, show the revocation was based on incorrect facts and law or fraudulent evidence, or demonstrate that “conditions or circumstances have changed so that the basis for the revocation no longer exists.”
KTUU has attempted to contact Wooten for comment via the state Public Safety Employees Association.

Channel 2’s Kortnie Horazdovsky contributed information to this story.

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