October 10th, 2008
01:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Alaska lawmakers meet to receive trooper probe report

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/10/art.palin.10.9.jpg caption="Alaska lawmakers convened Friday to get an investigator's report on Sarah Palin's firing of her public safety commissioner."]
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CNN) - Alaska lawmakers convened Friday to receive an investigator's report on Gov. Sarah Palin's firing of her public safety commissioner, who says he was sacked after refusing to fire the governor's ex-brother-in-law.

Watch: Trooper probe turns political

The bipartisan Legislative Council went into executive session to discuss the report from former Anchorage Prosecutor Stephen Branchflower. A portion of the report is scheduled to be made public after the executive session, said Sen. Kim Elton, the Legislative Council's chairman.

A second part of the report contains "confidential" information and will be kept under wraps, said Elton, a Democrat who has been under fire from Palin's supporters. Rep. Peggy Wilson, a Republican member of the council, said the total report ran about 1,000 pages.

Watch: The trooper gives his side of the story

"This is a pretty serious thing, and I don't feel comfortable even talking about it until I've got it all read," she said.

Palin, now the Republican vice presidential nominee, told reporters at a campaign stop in Ohio on Thursday that she has "absolutely nothing to hide" in the probe.

"It's a governor's right and responsibility to make sure that they have the right people in the right place at the right time to best serve the people who hired them, and for me, the people of Alaska, so my cabinet's got to be the right cabinet for the people of Alaska," she said.

Ahead of Friday's hearing, Palin supporters wearing clown costumes and carrying balloons denounced the hearing as a "kangaroo court" and a "three-ring circus" led by supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

The McCain-Palin campaign has leveled similar allegations routinely, including in a 21-page "analysis" of the case it distributed Thursday night.

The former public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, has said he was fired in July after refusing pressure to sack Palin's ex-brother-in-law, State Trooper Mike Wooten. Wooten was involved in an acrimonious divorce and custody battle with Palin's sister, and Palin and her husband describe him as "rogue trooper" who had threatened the family.

Palin originally agreed to cooperate with the Legislative Council inquiry, and disclosed in August that her advisers had contacted Department of Public Safety officials nearly two dozen times regarding her ex-brother-in-law.

But once she became Sen. John McCain's running mate, her advisers began painting the investigation as a weapon of Democratic partisans. They began to straight-arm the inquiry, calling it illegitimate, and attacked Democratic state Sen. Hollis French, the lawmaker managing the probe, for a September 2 interview in which he warned the probe could yield an "October surprise" for the GOP ticket.

"The Palins are right to be concerned about the fairness of the Legislative Council investigation," the campaign analysis states. "The governor has consistently demonstrated, in statements and through documents she has made available, that she reassigned Mr. Monegan because of legitimate policy
differences and disputes over the budget."

Palin's office in September released documents it said supported its position. The documents were part of a filing to the state Personnel Board, which Palin's office has asked to conduct a separate probe. The governor and her allies say the board is the proper legal forum for any complaint, and
Palin's lawyer says she and her husband will cooperate with that inquiry.

- CNN's Tracy Sabo contributed to this report.

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