Despite stone-walling from Sarah Palin, Alaska legislators aren’t backing down in their quest to uncover what happened in Trooper-Gate.
The bipartisan committee overseeing the investigation announced today in a press release that they’re moving up the date that they release the results of their investigation by three weeks, meaning it should come out in early October. The commitee, led by Sen. Hollis French, an Anchorage Democrat also announced that it would meet on September 12 to issue subpoenas in the case.
But according to the release, Palin herself will not be subpoenaed. The committee still holds out hope that she will talk to indepedendent investigator Steven Branchflower voluntarily.
“We also discussed and agreed amongst ourselves that no subpoena will be issued for the Governor,” said
Representative Nancy Dahlstrom, R-Eagle River. “She has told the public that she intends to cooperate with
the investigation, indeed, she has told the public that she welcomes the investigation and I have every faith
that she means it. If necessary we can send Mr. Branchflower to wherever the Governor is, or she can give
her statement to him over the telephone, whatever is most convenient for her. We recognize that her
schedule is extremely busy, and we want to accommodate that.”
French had initially indicated that subpoenas likely wouldn’t be necessary, since Palin had pledged her full cooperation. But earlier this week, Palin’s lawyer warned that unless the case were handed over to the state personnel board — whose three members are appointed by the governor — Palin would not be made available to testify. And according to the release: This week, seven key witnesses informed Mr. Branchflower through their attorneys that they would not provide depositions. Their depositions, which had been agreed to and scheduled earlier with Mr. Branchflower, were cancelled within the last 72 hours.”
The case centers on allegations by former Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan that he was fired because of his reluctance to fire a state trooper, Jim Wooten, who was divorced from Palin’s sister and was embroiled in a family dispute with the Palins. Palin has denied her personal involvement in the effort to have Wooten fired, though emails from Palin provided Wednesday night by Monegan to the Washington Post show that in February 2007 she complained to Monegan that Wooten was still employed.
Speaking to ABC News, French accused the McCain-Palin campaign of using stall tactics to prevent him from releasing the results of the probe by October 31st — just four days before the election.
The issuance of subpoenas will need to be voted on by the full Judiciary Comittee, which is composed of 8 Republicans and 4 Democrats. In late July, the Committee voted 12-0 to hire an independent investigator to look into the affair.
It’s worth noting that the legislature doesn’t have the power to compel witnesses to be deposed by Branchflower. Rather, it can require them to testify, under oath, at public hearings.