By Gene Johnson
Saturday, September 13, 2008
ANCHORAGE, Sept. 12 -- Alaska lawmakers voted Friday to subpoena the husband of Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate, after an investigator called Todd Palin "a central figure" regarding the governor's dismissal of the state's director of public safety.
The lawmakers acted at the request of Stephen Branchflower, a retired prosecutor hired by the Alaska Legislature to examine whether Palin ousted her public safety commissioner in July because he had refused to fire a state trooper who had once been her brother-in-law.
Branchflower said he also wants to interview the governor. Even so, he omitted her from the 13-person list of subpoena targets he presented to the lawmakers overseeing his investigation.
Two Democrats and one Republican voted for the subpoenas, rejecting attempts by the other two Republicans on the panel to delay them until after the November election.
Sen. Charlie Huggins, a Republican from Palin's home town of Wasilla, cast the decisive vote. Appearing in camouflage pants on a short break from moose hunting to cast his vote, he urged his colleagues to "get the facts on the table."
Trooper Mike Wooten went through a messy divorce from Palin's sister, and the investigation essentially is looking at whether Palin used her power to try to settle a personal score.
Since Palin was chosen as Sen. John McCain's running mate, her supporters have argued that the investigation is politically motivated, and urged lawmakers to turn the matter over to the three-member State Personnel Board, which is appointed by the governor and charged with handling ethics complaints.
Palin has said she fired the commissioner, Walter Monegan, over disagreements about budget priorities. Monegan says he received repeated e-mails and phone calls from Palin, her husband and her staff expressing dismay over Wooten's continued employment.