Despite the best delaying efforts of the McCain-Palin campaign and their right-wing Texan sidekicks, the Supreme Court of Alaska refused to halt the state Legislative Council’s ethics probe of Governor Sarah Palin in the “Troopergate” matter.
The court ruled that “It is legitimately within the scope of the legislature’s investigatory power to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the termination of a public officer the legislature had previously confirmed.” The Republican-majority Alaska State Legislature had voted to pursue the matter through independent investigator Stephen Branchflower, hired by the Legislative Council. Governor Palin had agreed to participate in the probe, but balked after she was named the Republican Vice Presidential candidate.
Governor Palin is suspected of firing Walter Monegan, the state’s Public Safety Commissioner, for refusing to fire state trooper Mike Wooten, her former brother-in-law, who had been through a messy and bitter divorce. The trooper was disciplined for minor infractions substantiated by the Governor’s private investigator, but Governor Palin is said to have demanded the trooper’s termination. When Wooten refused, the Public Safety Commissioner was removed.
A lower court also refused to halt the investigation, chastising the State Attorney General for advocating the stay, acting as if he represented the Governor instead of the people of Alaska. Several gubernatorial aides and the Governor’s spouse, Todd Palin, had ignored subpoenas and refused to testify in the legislative probe, and the Governor started her own investigation, run by people in her administration who serve at her own whimsical pleasure.
The aides agreed to testify in the legislative inquiry after the stay was denied by the lower court, and Mr. Palin has submitted written testimony. There are indications that Mr. Palin and the aides have decided to “take a bullet” for their boss, denying that the Governor knew of their pressure on Wooten. There are copious emailand telephone records of this affair, and it is certainly possible that the legislative investigator will recommend perjury prosecutions. The extent of Mr. Palin’s power in his wife’s administration may be cited in possible censure motions after the official report is released, which may be as early as tomorrow. If reports of affidavit contents are accurate, subsequent civil suits are a distinct possibility.
Governor Palin’s legal muscle in these stalling attempts was provided by the Liberty Legal Institute, an arm of the Free Market Foundation of Plano, Texas, affiliate of the religious organization Focus on the Family.
Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com.