Judge: 'Troopergate' probe against Palin can continue
Alaska lawmakers can continue investigating whether Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power in firing a state public safety commissioner who refused to fire her former brother-in-law, a judge ruled Thursday.
Bloomberg News reports:
In his ruling yesterday, issued minutes before the start of the vice-presidential debate, Alaska state court Judge Peter Michalski said the Alaska Legislative Council can move ahead with its investigation, including having the state Senate Judiciary Committee subpoena Palin aides to testify.Republicans in Alaska had sought to end the probe, arguing that it has become infected with politics. Republican presidential nominee John McCain tapped Palin to be his running mate.
"It is legitimately within the scope of the Legislature's investigatory power to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the termination of a public officer," Michalski wrote in his ruling.
The judge's decision on the probe came just a few hours before Thursday night's debate between Palin and Democratic VP nominee Joe Biden. The trooper-firing investigation was not mentioned during the debate.
The probe began before Palin's rise to the national stage. State lawmakers hired an investigator to determine whether Palin acted improperly in allegedly pressuring Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan to fire her brother in law and then firing Monegan when he refused to comply. The governor's office says budget disputes led to Monegan's firing.
The Associated Press has more on the investigation.
The independent investigator, retired prosecutor Steven Branchflower, now can conclude the probe and report his findings by Oct. 10. Branchflower has not interviewed Palin's husband Todd and several top aides who have refused to appear under subpoena. It was not immediately clear whether they now would testify.It remains to be seen whether the investigation's findings will turn into this year's "October surprise" in the presidential campaign.