Page last updated at 08:01 GMT, Saturday, 11 October 2008 09:01 UK

Q&A: Palin 'Troopergate' affair

The state of Alaska's investigation into the so-called "Troopergate" affair has found that state Governor Sarah Palin did abuse her power.

The controversy stemmed from Mrs Palin's dismissal of a state official, Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, several weeks before she was named by Republican presidential candidate John McCain as his running mate.

What were the findings of the investigation?

The investigation found that Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska's statute in July 2008 when she dismissed the state's public safety commissioner, Walter Monegan, after he refused to sack her ex-brother-in-law, Alaska state trooper Michael Wooten. (A trooper is a state law enforcement official.)

The report said Mr Monegan's refusal to sack Mr Wooten was not the sole reason for his dismissal, but a contributing factor.

But it added that the sacking of Mr Monegan was a "proper and lawful" exercise of Mrs Palin's rights as Governor of Alaska.

How have Republicans responded to the findings?

The Republicans say the report shows that Mrs Palin acted within her lawful authority as Alaska's governor.

"This was a partisan-led inquiry run by [Democratic candidate Barack] Obama supporters and the Palins were completely justified in their concern regarding Trooper Wooten given his violent and rogue behaviour," said a statement from the McCain-Palin camp.

What is Mrs Palin's relationship with Trooper Wooten?

Mr Wooten was married to Mrs Palin's sister, Molly McCann. The two were involved in a bitter divorce and custody battle. Sarah and First Gentleman Todd Palin have said that Mr Wooten made threats towards their family.

Sarah Palin: Alaska governor
Todd Palin: Alaska's First Gentleman
Walt Monegan: former public safety commissioner
Mike Wooten: Alaska state trooper
Frank Bailey: director of boards and commissions, on leave

What was Mrs Palin's version of events?

Mrs Palin said Mr Monegan was never fired. She said he was asked to step down as public safety commissioner and was offered a position on the Alcoholic Beverage Control board. Mrs Palin said Mr Monegan declined the offer. She said the reassignment had to do with Mr Monegan's "outright insubordination" and "rogue mentality" when it came to budget and policy issues.

What was Mr Monegan's version of events?

Mr Monegan said he was pressured on the phone by Todd Palin, Commissions Director Frank Bailey and other Palin aides to fire Trooper Wooten.

Why was there an investigation?

An investigation was launched by the Alaska state legislature on 28 July to see whether Mrs Palin, or members of her administration, abused powers to get Mr Monegan dismissed. Mrs Palin initially said she would co-operate with the investigation, but later revoked that statement. Investigators did not subpoena Mrs Palin, but Mr Palin did provide written answers to their questions.

What else is known about Trooper Wooten?

Mr Wooten has been accused of using a Taser on his stepson, drinking beer in his patrol car, illegally shooting a moose and threatening his former father-in-law.

What's next?

Legislators do not have the power to take formal legal action against the governor; that would be up to Alaska's Personnel Board.

If the Board decides Mrs Palin violated state law, the case will be referred to the president of the state Senate.

What does this mean for the US Presidential election campaign?

The BBC's Richard Lister says that the report does complicate Republican effort to focus the presidential campaign on questions of character, but it seems that voters - for now at least - are more concerned about who will extract them from the current economic crisis, than any questions about political infighting in Alaska.

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