Alaska AG fights to quash 'Troopergate' subpoenas

By Chris Rizo | Sep 26, 2008

Talis Colberg (R)

Sarah Palin (R)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Legal Newsline)-Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg has filed a lawsuit, asking an Anchorage Superior court judge to invalidate subpoenas issued as part of an ethics probe of Gov. Sarah Palin.

State lawmakers are investigating whether Palin, the Republican 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.

Palin had initially said she'd cooperate with the Legislature's investigation, telling lawmakers to hold her accountable. But that position changed after she was tapped by U.S. Sen. John McCain to be his vice presidential running mate.

In his lawsuit, Colberg, a Palin appointee, says the subpoenas should be quashed because he claims the state Senate Judiciary Committee lacks subpoena powers. The Senate Judiciary Committee has authorized 13 subpoenas this month, five of which were served to officials in the Palin administration.

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."

Sen. Hollis French, the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee, recommended last week that the governor's husband, Todd Palin, and two state officials be held in contempt for refusing to comply with subpoenas.

"For over 200 years, legislatures have exercised their right to oversee the activities of the executive branch. Denying us that authority undermines the basic democratic process," French was quoted by the Anchorage Daily News as saying.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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