Friday, September 19, 2008

Palin plays hardball with TrooperGate investigation

If the McCain camp has its way, Sarah Palin's TrooperGate scandal will get sidelined until after the election - and they're playing hardball to make sure that happens. Earlier this week the campaign said Palin, who previously agreed to cooperate fully, was unlikely to cooperate. The reason? McCain's flunkies say the process has gotten too "politicized" even though the legislative investigation was agreed to in July by a bi-partisan council led by Republicans. In the latest twist, Palin's husband Todd has now refused to testify.

Todd Palin is embroiled in the mess because he called a meeting at the Governor's office with the man at the center of the scandal, former Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. Todd Plain is not employed by the Governor's office, therefore had no reason to hold a meeting there - especially regarding a personal family matter. Todd Palin was subpoenaed to testify before the legislative investigation council about his role in the scandal but won't be showing up anytime soon.

Without the testimony of Todd and Sarah Palin, and 10 of her staffers who have also refused to testify, the investigation has come to a screeching halt. Steven Branchflower, the retired prosecutor leading the investigation, could still release his findings in October as scheduled. He has already interviewed or deposed 17 of the 33 people he had identified as potential witnesses in the probe. However, the Palins' testimony is critical - and they know it.

The Palins' change of heart about cooperating with the investigation occurred after the McCain campaign sent a legal team to Alaska including a former top U.S. terrorism prosecutor from New York. According to State Sen. Bill Wielechowski, a Democrat involved in the investigation, the McCain camp is "doing everything they can to delay."

So what are the repercussions? In Alaska, ignoring a legislative subpoena is punishable by a fine up to $500 and up to six months in jail. However, courts don't usually intervene in legislative investigations and the full Legislature must be in session to bring contempt charges. Coincidentally, the Alaska Legislature is not scheduled to convene until January - long after election day.

There's an old saying that goes something like this: He who protest too much often has the most to hide. Considering how loud the Palins and their team of lawyers are protesting, they must have a whole lot to hide.


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