Friday, February 6, 2009

Palin's husband and all her aides found in contempt

Published: February 6th, 2009 11:31 AMLast Modified: February 6th, 2009 02:38 PM
JUNEAU - The Alaska Senate voted today to find Gov. Sarah Palin's husband, Todd, and nine Palin aides in contempt for failing to show up when ordered by subpoena to testify in the Legislature's "Troopergate" investigation of the governor.
But the Senate resolution also said there should be no punishment because Todd Palin and the others did eventually submit written statements to the investigator, Steve Branchflower.
"People kept saying 'You've got to do something about the subpoenas -- what are you going to do about the subpoenas?" said Anchorage Democratic Sen. Hollis French, who sponsored the resolution. "And while there was practically no support for doing anything further about the findings regarding the governor, a lot of people were upset that the subpoenas were ignored.
"It memorializes their contempt and it balances that wrongdoing against their compliance once the suit was resolved," French said.
Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg had sued to kill the subpoenas but lost in court. It was after he lost that the witnesses cooperated.
Colberg did not have an immediate comment on the Senate resolution, saying he needed to go through it. The governor's office said it had no comment on the resolution.
The resolution passed the Senate on a 16-1 vote. Anchorage Republican Sen. Con Bunde was the only senator to vote against it. Sens. Fred Dyson, Gene Therriault and Tom Wagoner were excused.
"We rehash an old issue and then decide to do nothing about it," Bunde said on the Senate floor. "I hope that's not our best."
Anchorage Republican Sen. Kevin Meyer said he sees the resolution as a way to move on from the battles over the investigation.
"It's to bring closure to the whole issue," he said in an interview after the vote.
The subpoenas were issued by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which French chairs. French said it's not necessarily his view, but a lot of his colleagues in the Legislature see what happened as akin to driving 56 mph in a 55 mph zone.
"You can say you broke the law, you went 56 miles an hour, but not every violation of the law gets punished," he said.
French, pressed on his own view, said he believes the resolution struck the right balance. But he left open the possibility of future action against the state attorney general.
"I don't want to get sidetracked by the attorney general's performance in this episode, but it's worth pointing out that this resolution does not resolve questions - significant and serious questions - about his actions during this time," French said in a speech on the Senate floor.
French said in an interview afterward that he's not sure exactly what more is to be done.
"The difficulty is coming to any conclusion about what he did because none of us were in the room. ... It would be very difficult," he said.
French said Colberg broke a deal to cooperate with the subpoenas. Lawmakers also question the attorney general's advising state employees that they didn't have to honor subpoenas lawfully issued by the Legislature.
Colberg, a Palin appointee, has said he doesn't believe he did anything wrong. He said he just gave legal options to the seven state employees he was representing in the matter and they decided how they wanted to proceed.

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