Palin is stonewalling the Investigation
Governor is stonewalling the Troopergate investigation
Gov. Sarah Palin is taking the wrong approach to Troopergate. She should be practicing the open and transparent, ethical and accountable government she promised when running for governor and boasts about now that she's on the national stage.
Instead, Gov. Palin has begun stonewalling the Legislature's attempt to get the bottom of allegations that she, her family or staff violated ethical or state personnel rules.
As a result, the Troopergate allegations hang over Palin's future and cloud her candidacy for vice president.
The allegations are that she, her family or administration improperly pressured then-Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan to fire Gov. Palin's ex-brother-in-law, state trooper Mike Wooten, who had been in the middle of a custody dispute with Palin's sister.
In July, when legislators started talking about conducting an investigation, Palin denied any wrongdoing and said she welcomed an investigation.
"Hold me accountable," she said.
The Legislature took her up on that offer. But this week, she basically told the Legislature, "Never mind."
Palin's lawyer has asked the Legislature to drop its investigation. He had the governor file an ethics complaint against herself, in a bid to turn the entire matter over to the state Personnel Board, which would hire an independent investigator.
This is not an open and transparent attempt to establish Gov. Palin's accountability. It is an attempt to drag out the investigation until after voters decide the fate of her vice-presidential bid.
Instead, Gov. Palin should honor her pledge to cooperate with the Legislature's investigation, conducted by former state prosecutor Steve Branchflower.
She could start by telling aide Frank Bailey he has to talk to the legislative investigator. She should fire him if he doesn't.
Bailey was caught on an audio recording of a phone conversation with a Public Safety Department official, in which Bailey pushed to get Wooten fired.
Bailey was put on paid leave, not fired. A spokeswoman for Palin said that while Bailey is on the state payroll, Palin can direct him to cooperate with the legislative investigation.
So why is Bailey still on the payroll, after he bailed on a scheduled interview with the legislative investigator Wednesday?
The Legislature hasn't given its investigator the power to subpoena, or compel, testimony of witnesses. Subpoenas appeared unnecessary, since it appeared the governor and administration would be cooperating.
That's over. It's time for the subpoenas.
The Legislature's investigation is supposed to be wrapped up by Oct. 31. That's obviously poor timing from the standpoint of the McCain-Palin presidential campaign, coming just a few days before the national election.
Instead of trying to delay the whole thing, Palin should take a cue from U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, who asked that his corruption trial be moved up so it would be completed well ahead of the November general election. Voters deserve to know the outcome of Sen. Stevens trial and the investigation into Palin.
When this investigation into Troopergate started, Gov. Palin's response was refreshingly open. Since she became the Republican candidate for vice president, her approach has changed for the worse. America deserves the same openness and ethics from vice-presidential candidate Palin that she promised to Alaska voters in 2006.
BOTTOM LINE: Gov. Palin is stonewalling on Troopergate; the Legislature should issue subpoenas.
Palin's lawyer tries to play Secret Service card
Gov. Sarah Palin's lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, made an absurd threat in his battle to get the Legislature to back off its ethics investigation of the governor and her staff.
Van Flein said legislative investigator Steve Branchflower tried to call First Gentleman Todd Palin directly on "a secure and confidential line. This represents a serious security breach that we may be obligated to report to the Secret Service."
Hello? Branchflower is acting on behalf of the Legislature. That's a security breach?
Lawyers are supposed to vigorously represent their clients, but claiming that a legislative investigator's phone call may be a security matter worthy of Secret Service attention is ridiculous.
Gov. Palin should keep her legal attack dog on a shorter leash.
BOTTOM LINE: More obstruction from Palin in Troopergate.