Palin Goes to War with Investigation

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In one of the stories yesterday about Palin’s hiring of a lawyer — which we now find out she’s having the state of Alaska pay for — I noted that her new counsel, Thomas Van Flein, asked the lead investigator in the case to turn over all witness statements and documents produced so far in the probe. That struck me not as a good-faith request but rather an effort to get into a fight over process and thus gum up the investigation until after the election.

And sure enough, today’s Anchorage Daily News provides plenty of evidence that that is what’s happening in spades. Though to this point Palin has said she would cooperate fully with the investigation, Van Flein is now challenging the standing of the entire inquiry. He claims that any investigation should be handled not by the legislature but by the state Personnel Board which, conveniently, is made up of the governor’s appointees.

Van Flein is also charging that the state senator charged with overseeing the investigation is on a partisan witch-hunt. “Our concern is that Hollis French turns into Ken Starr and uses public money to pursue a political vendetta rather than truly pursue an honest inquiry into an alleged ethics issue,” Van Flein told the ADN. To which French rather persuasively responded that the charge of partisanship rang at least a little hollow since the investigation was instigated and authorized by a committee dominated by Republicans (though it’s only fair to note that Palin is not beloved by all Republicans in the state).

And finally that deposition that the investigator is trying to arrange with Gov. Palin? Seems she may be too busy running for vice president to make time for that. From the ADN

Branchflower [the lead investigator] hasn’t been able to set up an interview with Palin. French said the state will fly Branchflower to wherever Palin is on the campaign trail if needed.

“Clearly the governor’s new political role will make it more challenging for her to make time for this investigation,” French wrote. But Palin needs to be interviewed sometime in September, he said.

Van Flein said the investigation is “bad timing” in the middle of a presidential campaign. He said he couldn’t guarantee her availability this month.

If witnesses aren’t available, French wrote, he’ll ask the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, to issue subpoenas.

Buckle up.

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