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The most important divorce?

  • Story Highlights
  • Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin faces fallout from actions while governor
  • Claims that she fired Alaskan police chief for not dismissing trooper from his post
  • Trooper Mike Wooten was married to McCain's sister, couple divorced acrimoniously
  • Republicans have gone to court to stop investigation proceeding
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By Jonathan Mann
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(CNN) -- It may not be the ugliest divorce ever in Alaska -- but it could be the most important.

And though it was years ago, it could cause Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin some political problems.

Up in the American far north and all across the U.S., the Palin domestic drama is known as "Troopergate" because it centers on an Alaska state police officer, Trooper Mike Wooten.

Trooper Wooten was married to Palin's younger sister Molly and fathered her two children. The couple broke up three years ago and fought over the youngsters.

It was an ugly, angry divorce and the sisters say Wooten threatened murder. "Wooten spoke with his trooper gun on his hip in an extremely intimidating fashion," the governor complained, "leaving no doubt he is serious about taking someone's life who disagrees with him."

Ordinarily, it might be a sad story on the sidelines of Palin's public career -- except that the Palin family wanted Wooten fired and that got ugly too.

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The state chief of police said he didn't have enough evidence to dismiss Wooten and says that Palin fired him from his own job as a result.

Palin herself acknowledges that some of her aides and even her husband frequently complained about Wooten to his chief.

But she says she personally did nothing wrong. She just exercised her legal authority to dismiss the police chief because of differences of opinion. Alaska lawmakers weren't so sure.

They ordered an investigation into whether Palin abused her authority.

Republicans have gone to court to try to stop the probe but -- barring a last minute surprise -- its report is still expected shortly.

It probably won't have any legal repercussions for her, but if it supports the chief of police, the impression could be politically inconvenient.

What if it turns out she bullied an honest law-enforcement officer out of his job, to get her way in a domestic dispute that had nothing to do with him?

Sarah Palin may be the best thing that ever happened to John McCain's campaign for the presidency. She is the cover-girl of the campaign. But she may be heading back to the front page for a very different reason.

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