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Palin's husband won't testify in trooper inquiry, campaign says

  • Story Highlights
  • Todd Palin won't comply with lawmakers' subpoenas, McCain camp says
  • Lawmakers are investigating firing of former Alaska public safety commissioner
  • Spokeswoman says law bars ethics inquiries of candidates
  • Leader of investigation says it will continue until otherwise ordered
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CNN) -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's husband won't comply with a subpoena issued by state lawmakers investigating her firing of Alaska's public safety commissioner, the McCain-Palin campaign said Thursday.

Gov. Sarah Palin has refused to cooperate with an inquiry into the firing of her public safety commissioner.

Gov. Sarah Palin has refused to cooperate with an inquiry into the firing of her public safety commissioner.

A state Senate committee is scheduled to meet Friday to take statements from the 12 people they subpoenaed last week, including Todd Palin. But McCain-Palin spokeswoman Maria Comella said Todd Palin would not face a "fair hearing" before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The campaign has stepped up its attacks on the Legislature's investigation of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan's firing in the past week, saying the governor won't cooperate with an inquiry that it says is "tainted" by partisan politics.

In a new twist, Comella said Alaska state law bars ethics investigations of people running for elected office.

"That law was passed to insulate legislative investigations from exactly the kind of political maneuvering we are seeing in this inquiry," she said.

One Judiciary Committee member said lawmakers would have little recourse if witnesses refused to comply with the subpoenas. Only the full Senate, which does not reconvene until January, can vote to hold them in contempt, state Sen. Bill Wielechowski said.

"It appears that the McCain campaign is now very heavily involved in this, and they're attempting to stonewall the investigation," Wielechowski, a Democrat, said just before Thursday's announcement.

The law campaign officials cited appears to apply to candidates for state office, while Sarah Palin is seeking a federal job. But another campaign spokesman, Taylor Griffin, said the subpoenas violate "the spirit of the law, if not the letter."

In addition, state Attorney General Talis Colberg told lawmakers Tuesday that state employees wouldn't comply with subpoenas because the governor "has declined to participate" in the inquiry. Colberg said Sarah Palin's refusal puts them in the position "of having to choose where their loyalties lie." Video Watch how the trooper probe has become political »

The governor originally pledged to cooperate with the state Legislature's investigation of her July dismissal of Monegan. Since his firing, Monegan has accused Palin of trying to pressure him into firing her former brother-in-law, a state trooper who had been involved in an acrimonious divorce from the governor's sister.

Palin has said Monegan was dismissed over budget disagreements and denies any wrongdoing. Since becoming Sen. John McCain's running mate, she has argued that the investigation belongs before the state Personnel Board, whose members are appointed by the governor, though its current three members were appointed by her predecessor.

The resistance was fueled by remarks made in early September by Judiciary Committee Chairman Hollis French, a Democrat. In an interview with ABC News, French said the investigation -- which had been scheduled to wrap up at the end of October -- could present an "October surprise" for the GOP ticket.

Palin initially denied that anyone in her administration or family had pressed for action against her former brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, whom she has branded a "rogue trooper."

But in August, just two weeks before her nomination, she acknowledged that members of her staff had contacted Monegan's office nearly two dozen times about the trooper and suspended one aide whose February call to a state police lieutenant on the matter was tape-recorded.

And Todd Palin was a "principal critic" of Wooten and had "many contacts" with Department of Public Safety officials about his status, Stephen Branchflower, the former prosecutor hired by the state Legislature to investigate the firing, told lawmakers last week.

The controversy has led to more scrutiny of Todd Palin's role in his wife's administration. Documents released during the Monegan inquiry suggest that the oil-rig worker and champion snowmobile racer, nicknamed the "first dude," has been copied in on e-mails on numerous issues ranging from public criticism of the governor to meetings with corporate leaders.

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But Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton said Todd Palin's role in the administration "has not been inappropriate."

"His role is that he has been in and out of meetings that were appropriate," Stapleton said.

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