Governor to give deposition in second Troopergate inquiry Friday

Governor to give deposition in second Troopergate inquiry Friday

Posted: Wednesday, October 22, 2008

ANCHORAGE - Gov. Sarah Palin, already found by one investigation to have abused her power, will take time from her vice presidential campaign Friday to give a deposition in a second inquiry into her firing of the state's top public safety official.

It will be the first deposition in the affair by the Republican vice presidential candidate. Palin wasn't subpoenaed to answer questions in an investigation by the state Legislature, though her husband, Todd, gave an affidavit in that probe.

The Legislature's investigator, former Anchorage prosecutor Stephen Branchflower, found that Palin violated ethics laws in attempts to get her former brother-in-law, a state trooper, fired. The trooper, Mike Wooten, had gone through a contentious divorce with Palin's sister. But Branchflower found Palin was within her right to fire Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan.

Monegan had said he was dismissed for refusing to fire Wooten, but Palin has denied that. She said she fired Monegan over budget disagreements.

"I don't think that it was an abuse of power of my office at all," Palin told CNN in an interview Tuesday. "And I was very thankful that that report cleared me of any illegal dealings or anything else. I replaced the commissioner because he was not doing the job that I expect of my Cabinet members."

The Palins' attorney, Thomas Van Flein, said Tuesday that the governor and her husband will both give depositions Friday afternoon outside of Alaska, but declined to say where. She is on the campaign trail as Republican John McCain's running mate. McCain-Palin campaign spokesman Taylor Griffin said Palin's Friday schedule has not been released.

These depositions are part of an investigation by the Alaska Personnel Board, which has hired independent counsel Timothy Petumenos, who did not return a telephone call to his Anchorage office. Van Flein said he expects each interview to take up to three hours.

Unlike the Legislature, the Personnel Board is an agency of the state's executive branch and its officials can be fired by Palin for cause. Only the three-member board has the authority to sanction Palin.

Palin has said it was up to the Personnel Board to investigate her actions, not state lawmakers. Palin agreed to cooperate with the board's investigation.

The governor originally said she would cooperate with the Legislature's probe. But after becoming the GOP vice presidential candidate, she said the investigation had become too partisan and filed the ethics grievance against herself with the Personnel Board.

The Alaska Supreme Court rejected a bid by five Republican state legislators to shut down the Legislature's investigation.



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