Alaska AG draws criticism for Troopergate handling

Chris Rizo Sep. 29, 2008, 1:15am

Talis Colberg (R)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Legal Newsline)-Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg has attracted criticism for taking a personal vacation in Kansas at a time when his office was conducting a nationally watched investigation.

Separately, the attorney general and state lawmakers are investigating whether Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee, and several top aides pressured Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan to fire Trooper Mike Wooten, who was engaged in a bitter divorce and child custody dispute with Palin's sister.

Earlier this month, as the controversy boiled over, Colberg, who was appointed by Palin, was hopping a plane to Kansas.

The attorney general has said he had no idea when he made plans for the trip that there would be an ethics investigation into his boss or that Palin would be tapped to be Republican presidential candidate John McCain's running mate.

"So in June, I had made arrangements to go on a personal vacation to the four states that I had never been to, focusing on Kansas. And I had made this arrangement with my college roommate of 30 years ago and we had talked about this for about three decades," Colberg was quoted by the Anchorage Daily News as saying. "So my trip for one week did occur and I did see all 50 states and I enjoyed the state of Kansas. It's a very nice place, at this time of year especially so," he added.

Colberg, who is suing to quash the Legislature's subpoenas of seven state workers, is the target of a petition drive to be removed from office. He has advised the governor's staff that they need not comply with the subpoenas.

State Rep. Jay Ramras, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Colberg had indulged in "likely very irresponsible behavior coming from the attorney general," the Daily News reported.

In his lawsuit, Colberg said the subpoenas should be quashed because the state Senate Judiciary Committee lacks subpoena powers.

He also said that state employees are in a difficult position, "having to choose between supporting the governor's position and voluntarily complying with the subpoenas."

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at

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