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Alaska Senate finds Sarah Palin's husband, aides in contempt

Todd Palin and nine of the governor's employees ignored subpoenas to testify in the 'Troopergate' investigation, but eventually gave written statements.

February 07, 2009|Associated Press

JUNEAU, ALASKA — The Alaska Senate on Friday found Gov. Sarah Palin's husband and nine state employees, including some of her top aides, in contempt for ignoring subpoenas in the Legislature's investigation of the governor's firing of her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan.

The Senate said it would seek no punishment for the witnesses' failure to testify before its judiciary committee last fall.

"During the Monegan investigation, we were reminded that the legislative branch's power of subpoena is an important one, and must be respected by the executive branch," said Democratic Sen. Hollis French.

"With this resolution, the Senate is making it clear that we are a coequal branch of state government."

The witnesses later provided sworn written statements -- after a lawsuit filed on behalf of seven of the state employees by state Atty. Gen. Talis Colberg was dismissed in Superior Court.

The case was appealed to the state Supreme Court.

The investigation centered on whether Palin, assisted by aides and her husband, Todd, pressured Monegan to fire a state trooper -- the ex-husband of Palin's sister -- and then fired Monegan when he refused. Palin said Monegan was ousted over budget disagreements.

Thomas Van Flein, Todd Palin's lawyer, said there was no contempt because his client initially provided the proper objection to the subpoena and later complied with a written statement.

Van Flein said the Senate should have allowed witnesses to state their case before issuing the resolution.

"They didn't allow any opportunity to present actual evidence and facts. It appears to be pure political grandstanding," he said.

Colberg was not immediately available for comment Friday. Palin's spokesman, Bill McAllister, said the governor had no comment.

French said the Senate decided not to impose penalties because the witnesses eventually provided written statements. Under Alaska law, contempt of legislative subpoenas can bring fines and a maximum of six months in jail.

Alaska's personnel board concluded Palin did not breach state ethics laws in firing Monegan. The state Legislative Council's investigator found that she did violate the law by failing to stop her husband from pressuring Monegan.

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