On Friday, Aug. 29, McCain announced Palin was his vice-presidential pick. The following Monday, Palin's office retained a lawyer to represent her in the investigation, who immediately challenged the legitimacy of the investigation's jurisdiction.
After the hearing, Palin's lawyer Van Flein said the probe was unfair and unconstitutional. "The governor said she was going to cooperate with a fair and impartial invwstigation into this," he said, "[but] it has turned into a partisan effort and what I consider to be an unconstituional effort to bring politics into this."
He declined to answer questions about how he was chosen to represent Palin, citing attorney-client privilege. Van Flein said he works "by word of mouth."
Legislators have said Palin herself won't be subpoenaed to testify, but they said they do expect her to speak with Branchflower.
Court documents show that in 2005 a judge ordered Sarah Palin and her family to stop disparaging Wooten. Anchorage judge John Suddock, who presided over the contentious divorce between Mike Wooten and Palin's sister Molly Hackett, said that if Palin's family did not leave Wooten alone, he would curtail Hackett's custody rights.
Some Republican lawmakers at the hearing raised concerns about the probe. "There's something fishy here," said Sen. Gene Therriault from Fairbanks.
Others acknowledged the increased pressure that Palin's new national role has brought to the probe, but pushed their colleagues to dismiss them. "I'm taking a break from my moose hunting" for the hearing, complained Sen. Charlie Huggins, a Republican from Wasilla, Palin's hometown. "I want the truth -- the sooner, the better, no matter the consequences." In the end, Huggins said, the effect the probe might have on national politics "will mean. .. a hill of beans."