Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's not clear or transparent, is this a Constitutional showdown?

Posted by Wesley Loy

Posted: September 11, 2008 - 11:55 am

From Wesley Loy in Anchorage –

Tomorrow morning we’ll see a big event in the ongoing Troopergate investigation and the growing clash between the governor’s office and the Legislature.

The House and Senate judiciary committees are meeting in Anchorage, and members might vote to issue subpoenas to compel members of Gov. Sarah Palin’s administration – but not the governor herself – to go for interviews with the Legislature’s investigator, Steve Branchflower.

But this week, the state Department of Law – representing Department of Administration employees – threatens in this seven-page letter to go to court to block the subpoenas, thus widening the conflict to all three branches of government.

The letter is signed by Michael Barnhill, senior assistant to Attorney General Talis Colberg, and is addressed to state Sen. Kim Elton, the Juneau Democrat who heads the legislative panel that initiated the Troopergate investigation.

Among its points:

• The governor is basically the boss over all executive branch employees, and she and her staff can legally look at confidential employee personnel files “in the course and scope of their official duties.”

A central question in the Troopergate case, of course, is whether the governor or her staff improperly perused personnel and other files of state Trooper Mike Wooten, who was involved in a rough divorce from Palin’s sister.

“At this point, the Department of Law knows of no evidence that suggests that any Department of Administration employees violated the State Personnel Act in handling Trooper Wooten’s personnel file,” the letter says.

• The letter accuses Anchorage Democratic Sen. Hollis French, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman and “project director” for the Legislature’s Troopergate investigation, of making biased media remarks and suggesting state employees might even face criminal prosecution.

• The letter says that, even though legislators have said Branchflower’s investigation will wrap up by Oct. 10 rather than the end of October as originally planned, that’s still suspiciously close to the Nov. 4 election, in which Palin is standing for vice president.

The letter, which drops references to McCarthyism, “secret depositions” and “unchecked investigative enthusiasm,” ends on a note of questioning the legitimacy of the Legislature’s investigation.

“Bluntly and to the point, we think there is a legitimate concern that this investigation is no longer being conducted in a fair manner – and therefore is potentially violative of Alaska’s constitutional due process safeguards,” Barnhill’s letter says, adding:

“The eyes of the nation have now turned upon us.”

the real Constitutional issue

is whether voters in the United States have the right to be informed of a VP candidate's illegal activities and unethical actions -before they vote in November.

That's what this is all about -preventing the nation from seeing the real dirt on Palin and her two-bit staff conducted themselves on the Wooten affair.

I think it at the very least violates the spirit of the Right to Vote -when you use the court system to prevent full disclosure to the voting public.

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At September 12, 2008 at 4:43 PM , Blogger akblogit said...

The Associated Press
The investigator looking into whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power in trying to fire her former brother-in-law is asking state lawmakers for the power to subpoena Palin's husband, Todd.

The probe has taken on new significance since Republican presidential candidate John McCain picked Palin as his running mate.

Retired prosecutor Stephen Branchflower asked the state House and Senate judiciary committees for power to subpoena 13 witnesses, including Todd Palin. The committees were expected to grant the request.

Branchflower said he wants to interview Palin herself, but did not ask for a subpoena for her.

At September 15, 2008 at 6:31 AM , Blogger Art A Layman said...

Will there ever be a time when truth and integrity will reenter, not only the hallowed halls of government but of politics in general?

Is it inanity to suggest that this investigation should be completed before the Presidential voting commences? Do not the citizens of Alaska and the entire US have a right to receive a determination before having to decide on whom to vote for?

If this were purely an Alaska issue then the political/legal posturing would tend to be business as usual; not defensible but understandable. However, this issue, with some serious implications regarding the behavior of a chief executive, has now become very important to our entire country and one would like to think that both sides would be interested in a resolution, pre-election.

Should Governor Palin be found not guilty of the charges it would go a long way to enhancing the McCain/Palin chances of success. A contrary finding would be damaging but between political spin and whatever appeals process there might be the damage can be mitigated, at least long enough to get past the election.

To me the most important aspect of this inquiry is not Sarah Palin's actions. Governors have been known to overeach and run afoul of pursuing varying degrees of personal interests while arguing the state's best interests. My concern is about "first dude"'s involvement, not only in this issue but in seemingly much Sarah's governing to date. To your point, he has no official capacity, yet seems to be a defacto vice governor.

His actions raise two significant questions: First, what are his qualifications for representing Alaska in any capacity? Second, is it possible that Sarah's brains reside in "first dude"'s head?

I don't know that I see a possibility for him to function similarly on a national stage but few would accuse me of being prescient.

Sarah has already laid the foundation for her apology should a decision go against her. That she and staff and "first dude" were only trying to raise private citizen concerns and bring them to the attention of those with the power to look into them. A simple apology with this expanation will obviate a severe backlash.

Let Alaskan's get this over and settled before it becomes a potential stain on a new Presidential administration. Given the proclivities of American voters the unresolved issue could be more impactive than a negative decision.

At September 15, 2008 at 4:07 PM , Blogger Syrin said...

Sarah Palin with an investigation and personal ethics charge.
Sarah Should Not Have Been Selected for the position of VP. Sarah is quite guilty by all circumstantial evidence and witnesses accounts provided. McCain has made an extremely bad decision, not using integrity or credability as a standard.

I'm not lookin for her to get her stuff together and than make a run, I want her to be found out now before she moves this circus to the federal level.


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