7 Alaska state workers to testify in Palin probe

October 5, 2008 5:41:41 PM PDT
Seven Alaska state employees have reversed course and agreed to testify in an investigation into whether Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin abused her powers by firing a commissioner who refused to dismiss her former brother-in-law. There is no indication, however, that Palin or her husband will now agree to testify about the case, which has dogged her for the past several months and could hurt John McCain in the final weeks of the presidential race.

Palin, a first-term Alaska governor, is the focus of a legislative inquiry over her firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan a year after she, her husband and key advisers began questioning him about getting rid of a state trooper who had gone through a nasty divorce with her sister.

Monegan says he was dismissed because he wouldn't fire the governor's former brother-in-law, but Palin contends he was dismissed for insubordination. McCain operatives called Monegan a "rogue" who repeatedly tried to work outside normal channels for requesting money.

Lawmakers subpoenaed seven state employees to testify in the inquiry but they challenged those subpoenas. After a judge rejected a similar challenge brought by state lawmakers last week, employees decided to testify, Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg said.

Democratic state Sen. Hollis French, who is managing the investigation, said that, following the court ruling, he again asked Palin and her husband, Todd, whether they planned to testify. "We've had no response," French said Sunday.

Palin says the legislative inquiry has become too political and she believes that only the state's personnel board should oversee the inquiry. Palin has the authority to fire the members of that board.

Alaska's Supreme Court, meanwhile, is considering whether to block the findings of the legislative inquiry. The high court scheduled arguments for Wednesday over whether the case is being manipulated to hurt Palin before Election Day on Nov. 4.

The independent investigator conducting the probe plans to turn over his conclusions on the case by next Friday to the Legislative Council, the body that authorized it.


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