7 in Palin's administration agree to give statements in probe
Seven employees of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's administration have agreed to give statements in the state Legislature's investigation into her firing of the state's public safety commissioner, lawmakers involved in the probe said Sunday.
Gov. Sarah Palin's campaign says the investigation in Alaska has been "tainted" by partisan politics, reported CNN.
The seven, including Palin's chief of staff, had tried to fight subpoenas issued by the state Senate Judiciary Committee. But an Anchorage judge upheld the subpoenas Thursday, and Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg notified the committee Sunday that they would give statements after all, Judiciary Committee Chairman Hollis French said.
"We're still working out the details," said French.
However, French said he believes statements could be taken without pushing back the scheduled Friday release of a report by Stephen Branchflower, the former Anchorage prosecutor conducting the investigation into Palin's July firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.
Palin's husband, Todd, has also been resisting a subpoena, and there has been no word on whether he would challenge Thursday's ruling.
Palin attorney Thomas Van Flein told CNN that "all options are possible" for Todd Palin to participate in the Legislative Council's investigation, including a joint interview with Branchflower and Tim Petumenos, the investigator for the Personnel Board's inquiry.
Todd Palin will likely speak with Petumenos later in the month, Van Flein said, adding, "Ultimately, I think he will" participate in the legislative investigation.
Regarding the governor's advisers, Van Flein said, "It's appropriate for all the state employees to give their testimony. ... Everyone has wanted that for a long time."
Another member of the committee, state Sen. Bill Wielechowski, said some of the witnesses have already given statements to Colberg, a Palin appointee.
"I don't think there's a whole lot of new information that's going to come out of them," Wielechowski said.
Both French and Wielechowski are Democrats. French in particular has been accused of leading a biased investigation by Palin's allies, some of whom are now asking the state Supreme Court to halt the Legislature's probe.
Palin, now the Republican vice presidential nominee, says she sacked Monegan over budget disagreements. But Monegan has said he believes he was fired because he resisted pressure to fire Palin's ex-brother-in-law, State Trooper Mike Wooten.
Palin has denied any wrongdoing, calling Wooten a "rogue trooper" who had threatened her family during his divorce from the governor's sister. Though she initially agreed to cooperate with the Legislature's investigation, her campaign has called it "tainted" by partisan politics since she became Sen. John McCain's running mate and insisted that the state Personnel Board handle any inquiry.
On Friday, lawmakers backing Palin appealed Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski's refusal to block the state Legislature's investigation.
"If this unconstitutional and unlawful investigation is allowed to continue, is completed, and if the resulting report is released as planned, Plaintiffs and Alaskans in general will suffer irreparable harm," lawyers for the Liberty Legal Foundation told the Alaska Supreme Court. The Texas-based conservative group is representing Republican legislators who support Palin and are asking the court in Alaska to shut down the probe, which they call "biased."
Michalski in his ruling rejected arguments that the investigation violated the state constitution's guarantee of due process and fair treatment and said it was up to the Legislature to manage its own investigation.