JUNEAU, ALASKA — Alaska's investigation into whether Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power, a potentially damaging distraction for John McCain's presidential campaign, ran into intensified resistance Tuesday when the attorney general said state employees would refuse to honor subpoenas in the case.
In a letter to state Sen. Hollis French, the Democrat overseeing the investigation, Republican Atty. Gen. Talis J. Colberg asked that the subpoenas be withdrawn. He said the employees would refuse to appear unless either the full state Senate or the entire Legislature voted to compel them.
Colberg, who was appointed by Palin, said employees were caught between respect for the Legislature and loyalty to the governor, who initially agreed to cooperate with the inquiry but backed away after becoming McCain's running mate.
Last week, French's Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed 13 people, including Palin's husband, Todd.
Earlier in the day, GOP House Speaker John Harris, who two months ago supported the investigation, questioned its impartiality and raised the possibility of delaying the findings.
In a letter, Harris wrote that what "started as a bipartisan and impartial effort is becoming overshadowed by public comments from individuals at both ends of the political spectrum." He urged lawmakers to meet quickly on the matter.
"What I may be in favor of is having the report delayed, but only if it becomes a blatant partisan issue," he told the Associated Press, indicating that he believed it was already tainted.
At issue is whether Palin abused her power by pressing Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan to remove her former brother-in-law as an Alaska state trooper, then firing Monegan when he didn't.
Palin has defended her behavior and said she welcomed the investigation. But she and the McCain campaign have taken actions that could slow the inquiry, possibly past election day.
Also Tuesday, five Republican state lawmakers filed a lawsuit against the investigation, calling it "unlawful, biased, partial and partisan."