It looks like supporters of John McCain are taking aggressive actions to kill an investigation of his running mate Sarah Palin, to prevent an October Surprise-- adverse findings that would cast a negative light on her character and leadership.
Discussing a Newsweek article, Josh Marshall reports that the McCain camp is moving to shut down the troopergate investigation.,
"Within days of Palin's selection, at least seven of her aides and associates
, who had previously agreed to cooperate with the trooper-gate investigation, informed investigator Steve Branchflower that they were now no longer willing to be deposed. Not too that this was immediately after the McCain team deployed
what George Stephanopoulos reported was a "rapid response team of about ten operatives that includes lawyers" to the state."
Troopergate is a widely reported investigation of Governor Sarah Palin's purported abuse of power-- she involved the office of the governor in a nasty family feud.
She first denied her attempts to get her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper. Newsweek reported
"One major reason the probe is so sensitive is that it raises the prospect that Governor Palin's credibility could be called into a question in a major state probe on the eve of the election. When the "troopergate" story broke over the summer, Palin adamantly denied that anybody in her administration exerted any pressure on Monegan to fire Wooten. But only weeks later, a tape recording surfaced in which another one of her top aides, Frank Bailey
, was heard telling a police lieutenant, "Todd and Sarah are scratching their heads, 'Why on earth hasn't this, why is this guy [Wooten] still representing the department?'"
Originally, many state employees had agreed to cooperate but they are now, since McCain's team arrived, refusing to testify. Newsweek reported,
The Fairbanks Newsminer reports , Coghill is attempting to either wrest the control of the investigation from the independent investigator or have the whole investigation killed entirely. The newsweek article also reports that Sarah Palin's husband, Todd Palin, who has been accused of being one of those involved in trying to help Sarah get the trooper fired, has hired his own legal counsel to represent him.
In a move endorsed by the McCain campaign Friday, John Coghill, the GOP chairman of the state House Rules Committee, wrote a letter seeking a meeting of Alaska's bipartisan Legislative Council in order to remove the Democratic state senator in charge of the so-called "troopergate" investigation.
Coghill charged that the senator, Hollis French, had "politicized" the probe by making a number of public comments in recent days, including telling ABC News that Palin had a "credibility problem" and that the investigation into the firing of public safety commissioner Walter Monegan was "likely to be damaging to the administration" and could be an "October surprise." Wrote Coghill: "The investigation appears to be lacking in fairness, neutrality and due process."
"Coghill questions whether the Legislature's investigation should continue since the governor's nomination for vice president has widely publicized the issue. He would like to see an investigation continue with the Division of Personnel and Labor Relations, which provides human resource services to the executive branch agencies.
"It's much less political than our investigation,"- Coghill said.
On Tuesday, French was quoted in the ABC News article as saying the Legislative Council's report was going to be an "October surprise"- and "likely to be damaging to the Governor's administration."-
French said the governor "had a credibility problem"- and further stated "If they had done their job, (referring to the McCain campaign) they never would have picked her."-
Coghill said he thought the comments made were political in nature about an investigation intended to be apolitical, according to a press release issued Friday morning by the House Rules Committee, where Coghill sits as chairman.
"He is free to have his opinion, but not free to have his opinion on this investigation,"- Coghill said.
French has conceded that he "probably shouldn't have made those remarks,"- but said he will not be personally investigating, gathering facts or writing the final report.
In an effort to defuse the national media attention on his comments, French and the Legislative Council have agreed to move the report's release date from Oct. 31 to Oct. 10.
According to a press release issued by the Senate Judiciary Committee, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jay Ramras, R-Fairbanks, said the reason for the earlier completion date for the report is to avoid the appearance of last-minute politicking and to give both sides plenty of time to respond to the contents of the report.
The Legislative Council also has agreed not to subpoena Palin."
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