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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TROOPER PROBE

Palin 'Unlikely' to Talk to Prosecutor

ANCHORAGE -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is unlikely to meet with a special prosecutor looking into whether she or other state officials improperly pushed to punish a trooper, a spokesman for John McCain's presidential campaign announced Monday.

Since Palin was named McCain's running mate, the campaign has dismissed the state legislature's investigation of her dismissal of the state's director of public safety, saying that Democrats are exploiting the probe for political gain.

McCain campaign spokesman Ed O'Callaghan said that Palin is "unlikely to cooperate" with the investigation, which he called "tainted."

Palin's husband, Todd, was subpoenaed in the probe last week. O'Callaghan said he did not know whether Todd Palin would challenge that.

Sarah Palin has said she fired Walter Monegan over disagreements about budget priorities. Monegan says he received repeated e-mails and phone calls from both Palins and her staff expressing dismay over the continued employment of state trooper Mike Wooten, whose divorce from Sarah Palin's sister was ugly.

Todd Palin and 12 other people were subpoenaed Friday by a joint committee, made up of three Republicans and two Democrats, after prosecutor Stephen Branchflower said that someone may have attempted to deny workers' compensation benefits to Wooten.

No subpoena was sought or issued for the governor. When the investigation was announced less than two months ago, Palin said she welcomed it and promised her full cooperation.

The decisive vote in the committee's 3 to 2 decision was cast by Charlie Huggins, a Republican state senator from the Palins' home town of Wasilla. He explained his vote by saying: "I say let's just get the facts on the table; the sooner the better."

After McCain named Palin to the GOP national ticket, her supporters urged lawmakers to turn the Wooten matter over to the three-member State Personnel Board, which is appointed by the governor and charged with handling ethics complaints.

One lawmaker complained earlier this month that state Sen. Hollis French, the Anchorage Democrat overseeing the investigation, appears to be steering the investigation "in a manner that will have maximum partisan political impact on the national and state elections."

French said last night: "The McCain campaign seems to have forgotten that this began with a unanimous vote by eight Republicans and four Democrats to begin an investigation."


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