September 12, 2008

Panel OKs Palin Subpoenas

A legislative committee in Alaska has voted to authorize subpoenas in an investigation into Gov. Sarah Palin's firing of the state public safety commissioner.

The state Senate Judiciary Committee voted Friday to authorize subpoenas of the governor's husband, Todd Palin, and several of her top aides, the Los Angeles Times reported. The committee is investigating whether Gov. Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, improperly pressured former Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan to fire her former brother-in-law, Michael Wooten, an Alaska state trooper, and then fired Monegan when he refused.

The governor has said her decision to discharge Monegan in July had nothing to do with his refusal to fire Wooten.

The committee's decision gives independent investigator Stephen Branchflower the authority to seek testimony from Todd Palin and 11 of his wife's aides. The Alaska attorney general, who is appointed by the governor, has said he would go to court to quash the subpoenas.

State Sen. Charlie Huggins, a Republican, joined two Democrats in approving the subpoenas.

"Let's get the facts on the table," Huggins said.

State Senate Minority Leader Gene Therriault, one of two Republicans who opposed the authorization, said the Legislature could be headed for a constitutional battle with the governor.

"It seems like we're getting into a pitched battle here over subpoena powers," he said.