GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin shifted her tactics for the second time in three weeks on the "Troopergate" investigation, this time calling to end the very investigation that she herself called for and the one the McCain campaign had said was the only proper venue for a probe.
Palin's Attorney General, who initially launched an internal probe into Palin, even before the legislature began theirs, is now asking the legislators to withdraw their subpoenas of Palin aides and Palin's husband.
When the Alaska Legislature's Legislative Council, a Republican-dominated panel of 14 legislators which conducts business when the Legislature is out session, voted to investigate the firing of former Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan in July, Palin pledged her full support.
But almost immediately after joining the GOP ticket, Palin's Troopergate strategy veered sharply. Despite her earlier vows of full cooperation with the probe, she declared it unlawful. The legislature lacked the authority to investigate the matter, she said. Instead, it should be handled by the state personnel board, Palin asserted -- a panel which is under her authority.
Palin promptly filed an ethics complaint against herself, prompting the panel to begin its own probe. "GOVERNOR PALIN CALLS FOR FORMAL REVIEW OF REPLACEMENT OF COMMISSIONER MONEGAN," headlined the Sept. 2 press statement released by her lawyer's office announcing the move. "I. . . look forward to the Personnel Board's investigation," Palin's statement read.
But on Monday, Palin shifted tactics again: Her attorney, Thomas V. Van Flein moved to stop that panel's efforts, saying the governor's lawyers had reviewed all the evidence and saw no grounds for any investigation. In his filing, Van Flein argued there was "no probable cause" for such an investigation.
McCain-Palin campaign spokesman Taylor Griffin said the move was not a flip-flop. "The filing on the 15th was the mechanism to provide evidence to the personnel board investigation, which they will now have to consider. The governor is cooperating fully with the unbiased, nonpartisan investigation by the personnel board," said Griffin. He said he expected they will gather evidence themselves.
Now, Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg has sent a letter asking legislators to withdraw the subpoenas they had approved for 10 state employees. In his letter, Colberg wrote that the employees would only testify unless the full state Senate or Legislature voted to compel their testimony.
Colberg launched his own internal administration probe before the legislature began its own -- and before Palin moved onto the Republican ticket. Critics reportedly criticized Colberg's probe saying it was an effort to tamper with witnesses before the state's investigator reached out to them.
Colberg did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Colberg owes his position to Palin, who handpicked him to the position in 2006 and appointed him successor to the lieutenant governor last year. Before his nomination as state attorney general, Colberg was unknown on the state level, having no experience in criminal or oil and gas law. He was a former member of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly who was considering a job as director of the Alaska State Fair Board at the time of his appointment, according to press reports at the time.