Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the running mate of John McCain, "abused her power" in seeking to get her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper, an ethics report has found, dealing a blow to the Republican Presidential nominee who is struggling to hold ground against Democrat rival Barack Obama.
44-year-old Palin "knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda...: To get Trooper Michael Wooten fired," the 263-page state legislative investigative report said last night.
The investigation looked into Palin's sacking of Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan, who claimed that he was dismissed because he refused to bow to pressure to fire Wooten, who was involved in a bitter divorce and custody battle with the Governor's sister. Palin insists the firing was over a budget dispute.
The legislative panel, which authorised the investigation, released the report, but did not immediately vote whether to endorse its findings, 'The Boston Globe' reported.
However, the report, which found that Palin violated the state's ethics law banning public officials from using their offices for personal gain, did not say whether Palin should be censured by the Legislature or whether the matter should be referred for criminal investigation, the paper reported.
As the November 4 presidential race narrows, the report thrusts a new issue into the campaign when Palin's reputation as a reform-minded candidate is already being subjected to scrutiny. The Republicans may also face Democrats' attacks on the matter.