Palin Could Be Deposed in Probe

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, John McCain's surprise vice-presidential pick, is the subject of a legislative probe into claims that she abused her office by trying to get her former brother-in-law fired from his job as an Alaska state trooper.

Palin is likely to be deposed soon in the case, according to State Sen. Hollis French, who leads the state Senate's Legislative Counsel Committee.

French's committee unanimously authorized an investigation into the dismissal of the state's public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, who claims he balked at pressure to remove Trooper Mike Wooten, who had an acrimonious divorce from Palin's sister.

"I saw e-mails from [independent investigator Stephen] Branchflower two days ago to the Department of Law saying it's time to schedule a deposition of the governor, her chief of staff and the attorney general who had some contact with the case," French tells

Gov. Sarah Palin

While Palin was being introduced to the world at a rally in Dayton, Ohio, today, thousands of miles away in an Anchorage office, Branchflower was preparing to interview principals in the case, French said.

Branchflower did not return calls for comment.

Palin's press secretary Bill McAlister says that the governor denies that she pressured Monegan, attributing his dismissal to "other issues with the public safety commission as to how he was doing his job."

McAlister says that Palin only discussed Wooten once with Monegan, at a routine security briefing shortly after she won election in 2006 when she cited her former brother-in-law as someone she was concerned about as a security threat.

As for Wooten, McAlister maintains that her concern was justified, alleging, "He Tasered his 11-year-old stepson. He was observed drinking and getting into a squad car. And he illegally shot a moose, which doesn't sound like much -- but in Alaska, state troopers have wildlife authority."

Wooten was suspended over the allegations for five days in 2006, but is still on the job.

Two weeks ago, one of Palin's aides, former boards and commissions director Frank Bailey, was placed on administrative leave by the governor after admitting he made phone calls to Wooten's boss, Lt. Rodney Dial, in which he asked why the trooper still had his job. Bailey told reporters at the time that no one asked him to make the call, explaining, "My fear was (Wooten) could fly off the handle and do something that was irreversible."

A woman who answered the phone at Wooten's house declined to put him on the phone, saying, "He's putting his children first ... and has nothing to say about the campaign or Palin."

The legislative investigation centers on Palin's dismissal of Monegan, who says that he was contacted several times by the governor and her husband, Todd Palin, and that they pressured him to fire Wooten, who was locked in a contentious divorce and custody battle with Palin's sister, Molly McCann.

"Obviously, there was an issue," says Monegan, who claims that the governor talked to him twice and e-mailed him two or three times about the issue. "And did she want us to do more than discipline him? Yeah, anyone can tell you that.

"No one ever -- not her, not her staff -- has ever said, 'Fire Trooper Wooten,'" adds Monegan. "They all said, 'He's not the sort we'd like to have represent Alaska state troopers.' But the intention was clear."

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