Mudflats: I’ve been waiting for this one. One of the witnesses called by Stephen Branchflower (independent investigator of the legitimate Troopergate investigation) put herself in a tricky spot.

Murlene Wilkes, owner of Harbor Adjusting Services, and holder of a $1.2 million/yr. contract with the State of Alaska to handle workers compensation claims, apparently told a big fat fib. When Branchflower asked her if the governor’s office had ever asked her to deny a workers compensation claim for Palin’s ex-brother-in-law Trooper Mike Wooten (the trooper in “Troopergate”), she said no. Never. Really.

Mike Wooten, of course, is involved in a bitter custody dispute with Palin’s sister Molly. The Palins do not like him. Some say they have made a vengeful and personal sport out of ruining his career.

Problem is, that there are actually honest people in the world….and one of them works for Murlene Wilkes at Harbor Investments. This unnamed worker made a little phone call to the tip line that Branchflower set up at the beginning of the investigation. According to the tipster, yes indeed, the governor’s office DID put pressure to deny the claim.

Hard evidence contradicting sworn testimony has a certain effect on people. Murlene Wilkes, faced with this situation, decided to change her testimony according to a report in The Public Record. Now, with the little extra incentive of avoiding perjury charges, she has admitted that she was asked to deny the claim – at the direct request of Sarah and Todd Palin.

*chin hitting desk* (a moment of stunned silence)

  • Wilkes has a $1.2 million contract with the state to handle workers compensation claims. Her contract with the state was up but her firm was recently given a new contract despite the fact that there were others who provided the state with a lower bid than Wilkes’s firm. One of the other applicants who submitted a lower bid has appealed the decision. Wilkes told Branchflower she believed it was impressed upon her from Palin’s office that she would lose the contract if she did not deny the claim, state officials knowledgeable about her testimony said.

    Although Wooten did receive worker’s compensation benefits for about three months, his claim was suddenly denied and he was forced to hire a lawyer and appeal the issue, which dragged on for more than six months. It’s unknown if Wilkes played any role in denying Wooten worker’s compensation benefits.

    According to John Cyr, the executive director of the Public Safety Employees Association, the union that represents Wooten and other state troopers, Wooten was approved for workers compensation benefits in January 2007. He filed for benefits due to a back injury he suffered when he pulled a dead body from a wrecked automobile and slipped on icy pavement.

    The same month Wooten started receiving workers compensation benefits, Todd Palin began following Wooten around “snapping pictures of him,” Cyr said.

    “Frank Bailey was getting people to say that [Wooten] was lying on his worker’s comp form,” Cyr said. “The governor’s family was following Mike around everywhere. They forwarded that information to the worker’s comp division.”

    All this information about Todd stalking Wooten came out when Troopergate first broke, well before Palin’s nomination. But, the press here didn’t follow up much. They preferred to focus on the “Is Wooten a Bad Cop?” angle of the story. That was a lot more exciting…you know…tasers, infidelity, drunk driving, illegal moose hunting…

    Troopergate, much to the dismay of the Palins, refuses to go away, and only gets worse, the longer it goes on. Worker’s compensation claims may not be ’sexy’, but some say this may end up being the final nail in the coffin of Palin’s political career.

    Branchflower’s report is due to be released on October 10th. Let the countdown to truth begin.

  • Source: Mudflats

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