In the latest sign that Sarah Palin's promised cooperation with the Trooper-Gate investigation is failing to materialize, her lawyer is now demanding that the entire case be taken out of the hands of the independent prosecutor hired by Alaska lawmakers, and given over to a state personnel board -- whose three members were appointed by the governor herself.
In an unusual "ethics disclosure" filed last night, along with related documents, to the state Attorney General, Palin's lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, asked the personnel board to look into the firing of Walt Monegan, the former public safety commissioner at the center of the case. Van Flein also asked the legislature to drop its own investigation, contending that only the personnel board has jurisdiction over ethics. And he suggested that if the legislature didn't agree to hand the matter over to the personnel board, Palin would not be made available for a deposition.
Sen. Hollis French, the Anchorage Democrat in charge of the legislature's investigation, immediately told the Anchorage Daily News that the probe would go ahead as planned. French has said before that he is willing to issue subpoenas if necessary.
"We're going to proceed. If they want to proceed, that's perfectly within their right but it doesn't diminish our right to do so," he said.
The case concerns allegations that Palin improperly pressured Monegan to fire a state trooper who was embroiled in a family dispute with the Palin family, then fired Monegan when he refused to axe Wooten.
Van Flein, whose fee is being paid for by the state of Alaska, also used last night's complaint -- released the night before Palin is to speak as John McCain's vice presidential nominee at the Republican National Convention -- to put out information intended to paint the trooper, Jim Wooten, in a negative light, as well as to undercut Monegan's claims that the governor pressured him to fire Wooten.
In the words of the ADN, the complaint contends that:
"Monegan never told the governor or Todd Palin that Wooten had been disciplined over complaints brought by the family that included tasering his stepson, illegally shooting a moose and telling others that Heath would 'eat a f***ing lead bullet' if he helped his daughter get an attorney for the divorce."
"Recently, Wooten's supervisor intervened when he wouldn't return the children after a visit, the complaint says. Wooten warned his ex-wife he was going to get her and Palin, the complaint says. 'There is evidence suggesting that Wooten was following the governor,' it says."