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 said he has not spoken with Palin, but she was “unlikely to cooperate” with the inquiry “as long as it remains tainted.”
O’Callaghan also said he did not know whether Palin’s husband, Todd, would challenge a subpoena issued last Friday to compel his cooperation.
The governor herself has not been subpoenaed, but the Legislature’s investigator, Steve Branchflower, has said he hopes to speak with her.
McCain’s campaign insists the investigation into the firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan has been hijacked by Democrats.
Palin initially said she welcomed the inquiry. But after she became McCain’s running mate on Aug. 29 her lawyer sought to have the three-member state Personnel Board take over the investigation, alleging that public statements by the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democratic state Sen. Hollis French, indicated the probe was politically motivated.
French said Sept. 2 that the results of the investigation could constitute an “October surprise” for the McCain campaign. He later apologized for the remark.
The McCain campaign says it can prove 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 Palin’s sister.
To that end, the campaign released a series of e-mails detailing the frustration several Palin administration officials experienced in dealing with Monegan. The “last straw,” the campaign said, was a trip Monegan planned to Washington in July to seek federal money for investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases.
Monegan was fired July 11.
In the weeks since, it has emerged that the Palins and her staff repeatedly had contacted Monegan expressing their dismay at the continued employment of Trooper Mike Wooten, who divorced Palin’s sister in 2005. The following year, 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.
A bipartisan panel of the Legislature voted unanimously to authorize an investigation into the circumstances of Monegan’s firing.