Alaska Supreme Court Refuses to Halt Palin Probe (Update1)
By Tony Hopfinger
Oct. 9 (Bloomberg) -- The Alaska Supreme Court refused to halt an investigation into Governor Sarah Palin's firing of the state police chief, paving the way for tomorrow's planned release of the findings.
The Supreme Court dismissed the case brought by five state Republican lawmakers who sought to stop the probe, claiming it was unconstitutional and tainted by partisan politics. The investigation, known as Troopergate, took on national importance after Republican presidential nominee John McCain picked Palin as his running mate.
The Alaska Legislative Council, a bipartisan committee of 14 lawmakers that conducts business when the Legislature isn't in session, voted unanimously on July 31 to investigate Palin's July 11 firing of Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. The commissioner said he was dismissed for refusing to fire state trooper Mike Wooten, who was involved in a divorce and custody battle with Palin's sister.
The governor has said she didn't pressure Monegan and dismissed him because of budgetary disagreements.
The state Supreme Court said it will issue an opinion later explaining its dismissal of the Republican lawmakers' challenge to the investigation.
The Legislative Council's independent investigator is scheduled to deliver his findings tomorrow morning in Anchorage. The council includes 10 Republicans and four Democrats.
Todd Palin, the governor's husband, gave a sworn written statement yesterday to the investigator. He claimed Wooten was a danger to the Palin family and public, saying the police officer threatened to kill the governor's father.
Todd Palin acknowledged in his statement that he spoke to numerous state officials, including Monegan, about wanting Wooten fired. He said he didn't pressure Monegan to fire the trooper.
In a phone interview today, Monegan said Todd Palin's statements confirm that he pressured him to terminate Wooten.
``Todd says that he's been campaigning on that for years,'' Monegan said. ``I think he had a kind of obsession with it.''
Palin and the McCain campaign say the legislative probe is politically biased. She is cooperating with a separate investigation conducted by the state Personnel Board and has agreed to be questioned within two weeks as part of that inquiry. No deadline has been announced in that investigation.