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Palin's husband will answer questions in firing investigation

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  • Todd Palin will answer written questions from Alaska Legislature
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CNN) -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's husband has agreed to answer written questions in the state Legislature's investigation into the firing of her public safety commissioner, campaign officials said Monday.

Todd Palin has been resisting a subpoena by lawmakers since mid-September. But with the Legislature's report on the matter due Friday, Palin has agreed to answer written questions submitted through his lawyer, McCain-Palin campaign spokeswoman Meg Stapleton said.

Stapleton called the move a good-faith offer, despite allegations that the investigation has been tarnished by partisan politics since the governor became Republican Sen. John McCain's vice presidential candidate.

"We certainly hope this would not be the case, but there is a good chance that Friday's report may not get to the facts in a way that is at arm's length from politics as the legislators originally intended," Stapleton said. "However, Todd Palin believes it is still important to make an offer of cooperation and good faith."

She said the questions were submitted to Palin attorney Thomas Van Flein on Monday and are expected to be returned by Wednesday -- the same day the state Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a request by the governor's GOP allies to shut down the investigation.

There was no immediate response from the office of state Sen. Hollis French, the lawmaker managing the investigation. French, a Democrat, is the chairman of the state Senate Judiciary Committee and a lighting rod for critics of the investigation.

Monday's news comes after Sunday's announcement by Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg, a Palin appointee, that his office had dropped objections to subpoenas for seven members of Palin's administration. French said Sunday night that he believed their statements could be taken without pushing back Friday's deadline, but Stapleton told reporters witnesses "who look forward to having the truth revealed" had yet to give statements.

"You keep driving to make sure everyone has spoken and that you gather everything in terms of making a solid conclusion on the matter," she said. "We know that's not the case because all the facts have not been gathered. Todd Palin has not spoken."

When reporters pointed out that Todd Palin and the state attorney general's office had been fighting the subpoenas, Stapleton said French's committee could have dealt with their objections "in a day."

Palin says she sacked Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan in July after months of disagreements over state budgets. But Monegan has said he believes he was fired because he resisted pressure to fire the governor's ex-brother-in-law, State Trooper Mike Wooten.

Palin has denied wrongdoing, calling Wooten a "rogue trooper" who had threatened her family during his divorce from the governor's sister. Though she initially agreed to cooperate with the Legislature's investigation, her campaign has called it "tainted" by partisan politics since she became Sen. John McCain's running mate in August.

Palin aides have blasted French for a September interview in which he said the investigation could result in an "October Surprise" for the GOP. But they already had filed papers to get the state Personnel Board, which they argue is the proper venue for the inquiry, to take over the process.

Todd Palin has agreed to give a statement to that agency in late October, Van Flein said over the weekend, and campaign spokesman Ed O'Callaghan said Monday the governor is likely to answer questions from the board's investigator during the same week.

"The Palins hope that these responses will finally demonstrate that they are an open book and indeed have nothing to hide in this matter," Stapleton said. "Their commitment to cooperate with a fair and just investigation was never in doubt."

Meanwhile, Palin's allies in the Legislature are asking the state Supreme Court to shut down the legislative investigation. An Anchorage judge dismissed their request last week and upheld the subpoenas, but Alaska's five-member high court agreed last week to hear the case on an emergency basis.

The court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Wednesday afternoon -- but its chief justice, Dana Fabe, announced Monday that she has recused herself because her husband's law firm represents a witness in the investigation.

The Republicans, backed by a conservative legal foundation from Texas, argue that the Legislature's investigation violates the state Constitution's guarantee of due process. They also argue that the investigation led by French and former Anchorage prosecutor Stephen Branchflower fails to meet the goal of a "professional, unbiased, independent, objective" investigation set by the bipartisan committee that authorized it in July.

In dismissing their lawsuit last week, Anchorage Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski said it was up to the Legislature to manage its own investigation.

CNN's Tracy Sabo contributed to this report.

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