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Todd Palin refuses to testify in probe of his wife

September 19, 2008|From the Associated Press

ANCHORAGE — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's husband refused to testify in the investigation of his wife's alleged abuse of power, and key lawmakers said Thursday that uncooperative witnesses were essentially sidetracking the probe until after election day.

Todd Palin, who participates in state business in person and by e-mail, was among 13 people subpoenaed by the Alaska Legislature. His lawyer sent a letter to the lead investigator saying he objected to the probe and would not appear today to testify.

"The objections boil down to the fact that the Legislative Council investigation is no longer a legitimate investigation because it has been subjected to complete partisanship and does not operate with the authority that it had at the time of its initial authorization," GOP presidential campaign spokesman Ed O'Callaghan said.

Sarah Palin initially welcomed the bipartisan investigation into accusations that she had dismissed the state's public safety commissioner because he refused to fire her former brother-in-law, a state trooper. "Hold me accountable," she said.

But she has increasingly opposed the probe since becoming John McCain's running mate.

Alaska Atty. Gen. Talis J. Colberg said this week that the governor, who was not subpoenaed, had declined to participate in the investigation and that Palin administration employees who had been subpoenaed would not appear.

State Sen. Bill Wielechowski, a Democrat, said the McCain-Palin campaign was doing all it could to prevent the Legislature from completing a report on whether the vice presidential nominee had abused her power as governor. The report had been scheduled for release Oct. 10.

Wielechowski and another member of the panel that summoned the witnesses said that the witnesses could avoid testifying for months without penalty and that court action to force them to appear sooner was unlikely.

Republican state Sen. Gene Therriault agreed with Wielechowski's analysis. "If we had turned the rhetoric down and turned the pressure down to do some things, we might have gotten voluntary cooperation," said Therriault, who opposed the subpoenas.

Palin fired Walt Monegan in July. It later emerged that Palin, her husband and several high-level staffers had contacted Monegan about state trooper Mike Wooten. Palin maintains she fired Monegan over budget disagreements.

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