- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 16, 2008

ANCHORAGE, Alaska | Gov. Sarah Palin is unlikely to speak with an independent counsel hired by Alaska lawmakers to review the firing of her public-safety commissioner, a spokesman for Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Monday.

Spokesman Ed O’Callaghan initially said Mrs. Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president, would not testify as part of the probe “as long as it remains tainted.” He later clarified his statement to say that Mrs. Palin is “unlikely to cooperate” with the inquiry.

Mr. O’Callaghan also said he did not know whether Mrs. Palin’s husband, Todd, would challenge a subpoena issued Friday to compel his cooperation. Thomas Van Flein, the Palins’ attorney, who has accepted service of the subpoena, did not return messages seeking comment. Mrs. Palin has not been subpoenaed, but the Legislature’s investigator, Steve Branchflower, has said he hopes to speak with her.

Mr. McCain’s campaign insists that Democrats have hijacked the investigation into the firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. The campaign says it can prove Mr. Monegan was fired in July because of insubordination on budget issues, and not because he refused to fire a state trooper who went through a nasty divorce from Mrs. Palin’s sister.

The campaign released a series of e-mails detailing the frustration several Palin administration officials experienced in dealing with Mr. Monegan. The “last straw,” the campaign said, was a trip that Mr. Monegan planned to Washington in July to seek federal money for investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases.

In a July 7 e-mail, John Katz, the governor’s special counsel, noted two problems with the trip: The governor hadn’t agreed that the money should be sought, and the request “is out of sequence with our other appropriations requests and could put a strain on the evolving relationship between the Governor and Sen. Stevens.”

Mr. Monegan was fired four days later.

Since then, it has emerged that the Palins and her staff had contacted Mr. Monegan repeatedly and expressed their dismay at the continued employment of Trooper Mike Wooten, who divorced Mrs. Palin’s sister in 2005. The following year, Trooper Wooten was suspended for five days based on complaints filed by the Palins, including that he drank in his patrol car, used a Taser on his 10-year-old stepson and illegally shot a moose.

The Legislature voted to authorize an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Monegan’s firing.

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