ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Alaska lawmakers voted on Friday to issue subpoenas to Gov. Sarah Palin’s husband and 12 others linked to the Republican nominee for vice president as part of an investigation into whether she abused her power to fire a state trooper feuding with her family.
An Alaskan legislative committee is looking into whether Palin’s dismissal of the public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, was retaliation for his refusal to fire State Trooper Mike Wooten, who had been involved in a contentious divorce and custody battle with the governor’s sister.
An Alaska legislative committee voted 3-2 to issue 14 subpoenas in all, including one to Todd Palin, 12 to the other individuals and one to a local telephone company for records of calls made by one of the governor’s aides.
The vote came on the recommendation of Steve Branchflower, a retired state prosecutor hired by legislators to investigate Monegan’s dismissal.
“There is a risk that if subpoenas are not issued, there might be some other problem that will forestall the investigation,” said Branchflower, who recommended against a subpoena for the governor, because he was confident that she would submit to a voluntary interview.
Earlier this summer, Palin pledged to cooperate with the legislature’s investigation, but after she was selected as Sen. John McCain’s presidential running mate, several Palin staffers have refused to give testimony to Branchflower.
Palin’s personal attorney and attorneys with the state Department of Law, acting on behalf of the governor’s office, have recently challenged the investigation’s legality.
Alaska Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell said he was disappointed by how the investigation is being used to score political points against Palin and questioned the independence of Branchflower.
“Arbitrary deadlines, inappropriate public comments and secret deals ... have turned this process into a complete farce,” Parnell said in a statement distributed by the McCain campaign.
Editing by Daisuke Wakabayashi and Sandra Maler
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