Elton rejects call for Legislative Council meeting

Posted: Thursday, September 18, 2008

Juneau Sen. Kim Elton, chairman of the Legislative Council, has partially rejected a call from House Speaker John Harris, R-Valdez, for a special meeting of the council.

The council manages the business of the Legislature, and acts for the Legislature when the full body is not in session. It authorized and funded the ongoing inquiry into Gov. Sarah Palin's firing of former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.

Harris said Tuesday he was worried about politicization of the investigation into allegations of abuse of power and improper acts by Palin.

Elton, in a letter to Harris delivered Wednesday, said he was previously concerned that a special meeting before an investigator's report is delivered could politicize the process. That has since changed, he said.

"I no longer believe that the debate can be any more politicized than it is right now," he said.

Palin was nominated for vice president by the Republican Party after the investigation began, and the formerly bipartisan effort has become controversial.

Harris had called for a meeting of the Legislative Council by Tuesday. Elton said in his letter that he will poll members of the council for a possible meeting prior to Oct. 10, when special investigator Stephen Branchflower's report is due.

The Legislative Council on July 29 voted unanimously to authorize and fund an investigation into whether Palin acted inappropriately or abused her power when she fired Monegan.

A state trooper who worked for Monegan was involved in a bitter divorce from Palin's sister, and members of the governor's staff repeatedly contacted Monegan, raising questions about the trooper's continued employment.

Palin denied Monegan was fired in retaliation for not firing the trooper.

She earlier agreed to cooperate with the Legislature's investigation, but after her nomination, Republicans began moving on various fronts to block the investigation.

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