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September 19, 2008

TODD PALIN TO IGNORE SUBPOENA IN TROOPERGATE PROBE.... If I didn't know better, I might think Sarah Palin's gubernatorial administration has something to hide.

Gov. Sarah Palin's husband has refused to testify in the investigation of his wife's alleged abuse of power, and a key lawmaker said today that uncooperative witnesses are effectively sidetracking the probe until after Election Day.

Todd Palin, who participates in state business in person or by e-mail, was among 13 people subpoenaed by the Alaska Legislature. McCain-Palin presidential campaign spokesman Ed O'Callaghan announced today that Todd Palin would not appear, because he no longer believes the Legislature's investigation is legitimate.

Sarah Palin initially welcomed the investigation of accusations that she dismissed the state's public safety commissioner because he refused to fire her ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper. "Hold me accountable," she said.

But she has increasingly opposed it since Republican presidential candidate John McCain tapped her as his running mate. The McCain campaign dispatched a legal team to Alaska including O'Callaghan, a former top U.S. terrorism prosecutor from New York to bolster Palin's local lawyer.

At the risk of belaboring the point, let's not lose sight of the extent to which Palin has broken her word here. She vowed total cooperation, and the investigation enjoyed broad, bipartisan support. Since the McCain campaign got involved, Palin has decided she won't answer questions, subpoenaed state employees won't answer questions, and Palin's subpoenaed husband won't answer questions. Five Republicans in the Alaskan legislature, who never had a problem with the probe before, have even filed a lawsuit, asking a state judge to end the probe altogether.

This didn't stop Palin from boasting to voters this week, "We're going to make everything more open, and more accountable, and more attractive to those who want to serve." (There's no word on whether she was able to say the line with a straight face.)

State lawmakers will next decide how to respond to those who've blown off their subpoenas. Stay tuned.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (51)

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So I guess the American legal system will now have to cope without one of its most formidable tools--the subpoena. After all, Bush has shown that executive-branch employees can ignore subpoenas, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Indeed, under Bush, even private citizens (think Harriet Meyers and Alberto Gonzales after they left the White House staff) can completely ignore subpoenas.

And now under the Palin standard, anyone can simply blow off the legal system on the pretext that they "won't participate in the process."

Gotta love those law-n-order Republicans!

Posted by: Derelict on September 19, 2008 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

Have not been following these developments too closely, but my understanding is that she's claiming executive privilege in preventing the state employees from honoring the subpoenas (and thank you, Congressional Democrats, for ensuring that by never calling the Bush administration on its crimes you've set a precedent for bent governors to do whatever the hell they feel like doing).

So what's the excuse McCain/Palin are giving for the governor's husband, a non-employee, not appearing?

Posted by: shortstop on September 19, 2008 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

Ah'm a hillbilly, and if'n Ah can't spell it, Ah kin ig-nore it.

Posted by: Bob M on September 19, 2008 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Time for an outside group ad. If she and her family won't be held accountable to Alaska, how do we expect to hold her accountable to the people of the United States?

Posted by: Freedom Fry on September 19, 2008 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

This is an opportunity for Alaskan Republicans to prove whether they believe in the rule of law. We know they don't on a national level. And we know Alaska has more than its share of corruption. As far as I'm concerned, Palin's refusal to cooperate is the same as a "guilty but pardoned" plea.

Posted by: danp on September 19, 2008 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

blowing off a subpoena? so much for the rule of law

and I love the irony of these jokers talking big about following the "law" of the Bible, but even here they're selective in their obedience

Posted by: on September 19, 2008 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

If any of us "normal - average US citizens" ignore a subpeona we would be ARRESTED. Put an arrest warrant on them today and see if they comply or not - if not then arrest them.

Posted by: wo78 on September 19, 2008 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

Cunnilingus Privilege.

Posted by: gregor on September 19, 2008 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

State lawmakers will next decide how to respond to those who've blown off their subpoenas. Stay tuned.

And they'll do nothing.

McCain's crack corps of airborne lawyers that have parachuted into Alaska will keep things confused with legal maneuverings until the state legislative session ends. When lawmakers re-convene in January they will declare the entire issue moot.

Palin-McCain campaign has made her look worse by fighting the investigation. Obama surrogates should hammer Palin on this by sarcastically applauding Palin for doing something even George W. couldn't do --

"We've had eight years of George W. Bush refusing to allow the public to view public records, of "losing" public records when he ran out of legal options, of hiding behind dubious claims of "executive privilege" and ordering subordinates to ignore subpoenas. But Sara Palin has done something that even King George couldn't do. She has managed to quash an investigation before she even takes office. How's that for 'hitting the ground running'?"


Posted by: SteveT on September 19, 2008 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, what a wonderful world of law and order is left in the wake of the Bush Administration. Citizens are expected to obey the law, but for the frontier elitists, the Palins, it's possible to ignore law enforcement, blow off subpoenas, calling the investigation "partisan".

Rovian smoke wafts throughout the country, there is one set of laws for these political celebrities and another set of laws with handcuffs for you and me.

Next time a cop tries to pull you over, just tell him, "this is nothing but a partisan ploy", then drive away. That is if you feel like sleeping in a cell that night.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on September 19, 2008 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

Wow. She really IS ready to be the next president of the United States.

Does anyone else find the "first dude" as freakin' scary as I do?

Posted by: chrenson on September 19, 2008 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

Todd Palin is the "brains" behind that outift, but if this gets too hot the McCain campaign will cut his throat.

Posted by: Saint Zak on September 19, 2008 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

It's all in "Plain" [dyslex.SIC) sight.

Posted by: Shag from Brookline on September 19, 2008 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Todd Palin, who participates in state business in person or by e-mail..

Why does Todd Palin participate in state business at all? I don't understand his role in her administration.

Posted by: anony on September 19, 2008 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Ah'm a hillbilly, and if'n Ah can't spell it, Ah kin ig-nore it.

That's "cain't", son. Funny-spelling humour actually went out with Josh Billings (contemporary of Mark Twain). Mostly because it's not very funny.

But on a more serious note, the prof that delivered the Constitutional Law brushup lecture in a bar review course I attended for kicks once told a story from his days with the Freedom Riders. In a small southern town, his team was assigned review voter examination results (i.e. the state required that voters take a test to qualify to vote, and darn, none of those coloured folk seem ever smart enough to pass that thing).

Anyway, he opens up a sheaf of exams. The first one on the top is marked a fail, and the note at the bottom of the page says: "Error in spillin".

Hahahahahahahahaha!

(we hope you enjoyed this edition of the Fallacy of Imitative Form)

Posted by: Jassalasca Jape on September 19, 2008 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Hmm. Maybe the Republicans are playing a high-stakes game here. Either the Alaskan legislature wimps out and doesn't prosecute the First Dude for ignoring the subpoena, which makes the investigation look weak, or else they do charge him, which leads to a scenario where the McCain campaign stokes the outrage and positions him as a martyr. This means more noise and distraction from the core issues of the campaign, and more sympathy for the Palins. Sure, anyone paying attention would be appalled by the arrogance of the Palins and the campaign, but many other people might feel that this is unjustified persecution.

As much as this righteously pisses me off, Obama himself has to continue giving little attention to Palin. But if his surrogates or a 527 were to respond with something like the following, it might be more effective than our outrage:

"Palin was under investigation when McCain chose her for the ticket. The Republican dominated state legislature voted unanimously for the investigation: this was not a partisan project. Here's a list of her responses to being investigated ["I welcome it fully/I'm ignoring subpoenas and so is everyone else around me", etc.]. Here's a list of her various statements about firing Monegan [date/claim, from he wasn't fired, he quit, to he was fired for reason A, to her was fired for contradictory reason B, etc.]. And now the McCain campaign has sent people to Alaska, aides are phoning journalists to complain about their stories, and they're speaking for Palin to the legislature and to the media. What's true? We don't know, or we may not know until after the election, or we may never know. Her evolving and contradictory explanations for Monegan's firing alone are suspicious if she truly has nothing to hide, as she originally stated.

"So you have to wonder about McCain's judgment in choosing a running mate under an ethics investigation and in acting to delay or stonewall an investigation agreed to by every single member of the majority-Republican state legislature. It's nonsense to claim that this is Democrat partisanship at work, especially as the panel appointed by the state legislature is composed of 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats. If the Republicans succeed in derailing this investigation, it's going to look a lot more like the Bush White House and their response to scandals."

Posted by: MaryL on September 19, 2008 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

I don't remember Republicans cutting Susan McDougall any slack when she didn't cooperate with Ken Starr's investigation...

Posted by: rps on September 19, 2008 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know why, but I keep flashing back to the days following 9/11, wheb we had to argue against the freedoms to be violated by the Patriot Act, the warrantless wiretapping, the invasions of privacy. What did the GOP, and their lickspittles on FoxNews & the media in general, say at the time? Something like "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear?"

"If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."

I've no idea why that sticks in my head.

Posted by: slappy magoo on September 19, 2008 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Palins single most valuable asset is her ability to say anything with a sttraight face. Anything.

Posted by: Jörgen in Germany on September 19, 2008 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

So much for the rule of law.

Todd Palin should be arrested immediately for ignoring the subpoena. And they should send Trooper Wooten to take him into custody.

Posted by: Gridlock on September 19, 2008 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

I bet the McCain campaign asked the Palins a few questions, like "Do the following words appear in any of the emails: .....?"

The answer to that question would naturally dictate the McCain camp's response.

I wonder how it turned out?

Posted by: C R Nutz on September 19, 2008 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Todd Palin would not appear, because he no longer believes the Legislature's investigation is legitimate.
Since when do private citizens get to determine if an investigation is legitimate before they agree testify? This is bullshit, pure and simple.

Posted by: rege on September 19, 2008 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Hmm. Maybe the Republicans are playing a high-stakes game here. Either the Alaskan legislature wimps out and doesn't prosecute the First Dude for ignoring the subpoena, which makes the investigation look weak, or else they do charge him, which leads to a scenario where the McCain campaign stokes the outrage and positions him as a martyr. This means more noise and distraction from the core issues of the campaign, and more sympathy for the Palins.

A contempt citation requires the vote of the full legislature, and the legislature doesn't convene again until January. McCain/Palin will successfully run out the clock on this.

Posted by: shortstop on September 19, 2008 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

"he no longer believes the Legislature's investigation is legitimate"..... It's a faith based defense. If he believes it who are we to question?

Posted by: apssara on September 19, 2008 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with the poster up-thread who said just arrest their asses. This is getting farcical.

I have to wonder, though, about Sarah Barracuda's welcome home should the McCain/Palin ticket lose on 11/4 (please, God!!). She seems to me to be burning a lot of bridges amongst a relatively small population. Any AK posters on this blog have an idea?

Posted by: Michigoose on September 19, 2008 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

According to the AP story, the Alaskan Legislature "does not have the leverage to compel any witness to testify before Nov. 4"

Posted by: MissMudd on September 19, 2008 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Can somebody explain to me how a private citizen can just blow off a subpoena, even if he or she thinks the investigation is biased agains them?

We're seeing here the fruit of the Democratic Congress' feeble response to the Bush Administration ignoring subpoenas -- not even bothering to show up, clam up and cite executive privilege.

Nice going, Reid and Pelosi. It's time to stop with the strongly worded letters and have the Seargant at Arms frog-march Rove and the rest to a holding tank in the Capitol.

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2008 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with the poster up-thread who said just arrest their asses.

Again, who is going to do this? A citation of contempt in this case has to come from the legislature (not from law enforcement officials), has to be voted on by the whole legislature and the whole legislature doesn't meet until January.

That's even assuming that the lege in toto is willing to go up against Palin--not bloody likely.

Posted by: shortstop on September 19, 2008 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

The refusal to cooperate with this investigation is just part of a larger truth about Palin. Look at the following facts.

1) She and her husband are refusing to cooperate with this troopergate investigation.

2) She and the McCain campaign have severely limited media access to her and tried to manipulate what little access they do provide to prevent her from answering questions about her positions and qualifications for VP.

3) She used multiple personal e-mail accounts to conduct government business, avoiding lines of communication that would clearly be subject to the freedom of information act.

4) She appeared to offer the public a chance to play stump the candidate at a rally, but then McCain quickly changed the topic. And it also turns out that the rally in question was by advanced ticket only through the republican party.

So how is it, exactly, that Palin and McCain are going to reform Washington and bring about greater transparency and accountability, when they aren't willing to be transparent and accountable themselves?

How is there behavior materially different from the secrecy and imperiousness of the Bush/Cheney administration?

I hope people notice before November.

Posted by: DK on September 19, 2008 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

No possible contempt citation until January? Then it seems like time to really highlight these Republican shenanigans. Surrogates or 527s need to hit these points:

- Palin's shift from talking about cooperation and transparency to stonewalling
- Her evolving and contradictory explanations for Monegan's firing
- The McCain's role in speaking for Palin and obstructing the investigation
- How we won't know how this ethics investigation sorts out until after the election. (It might be a good idea to avoid all "pig in a poke" references here.)

As Rachel Maddow has said repeatedly, if Palin really had nothing to hide, cooperating with the investigation would have been a winning strategy for the campaign. But now Palin has all these unanswered questions hanging over her head. Will the mainstream media pay attention, though?

Posted by: MaryL on September 19, 2008 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

Todd Palin would not appear, because he no longer believes the Legislature's investigation is legitimate.
Funny thing — isn't that exactly what Milošević and Karadžić said about their tribunals? As I remember, I think Eichmann also tried the same defense.

Posted by: Frankly, my dear, ... on September 19, 2008 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

Shortstop is right that the clincher here is that the suponeas can't be enforced until January, but maybe the plan here is that a few weeks after inauguaration, there will be a tearful press conference in which Palin, after pulling off her librarian glasses and shaking down her hair, will sob that she tragically cannot allow this partisan witch hunt to compromise the nobility of John McCain and his administration, and so with great regret she is resigning, and McCsin gets to appoint Lieberman or Ridge. (This would certainly be a more believable explanation than resigning because of the 'needs of her family' - we of course are not allowed to inquire about who is caring for her 'precious gift from God' Down syndrome infant, but since the First Dude is never more than 10 feet away from Palin on the campaign trail, it clearly is not one of his parents. Perhaps they have turned him over to Mama Bristol and skater boy as a practice doll. I guess we should be grateful that she is not dragging the poor thing around as a prop for the rallies.)

Posted by: dcsusie on September 19, 2008 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

I didn't realize that subpoenas were so easy to ignore.

They seem like a hassle; so I sure as heck would like to blow one off should I ever get served with one.

Can someone tell me how I, too, could ignore the thing.

Or are they simply confetti?

Posted by: Duncan Kinder on September 19, 2008 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spousal_privilege

"The marital confidences privilege is a form of privileged communication protecting the contents of confidential communications between husband and wife. This privilege applies in civil and criminal cases. When applied, a court may not permit one spouse to testify against the other concerning confidential communications made during marriage."

Posted by: Luther on September 19, 2008 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Why aren't there ads being made about this?? If there aren't, it's only going to be folks who visit blogs like this one who find out about it.

Posted by: Anonymous on September 19, 2008 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Doesn't anybody get arrested for ignoring a subpoena anymore? Is everyone above the law now?

Posted by: paulo on September 19, 2008 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

So, how's this for a frightening scenario:

McCain and friends effectively sidetrack the "troopergate" investigation till after the election, but can't derail it entirely. It comes out that by spring of 2009 there is substantial evidence that Palin abused her power as Governor and the House starts investigating, in the course of their investigation it is discovered that the McCain campaign engaged in obstruction of justice and that McCain had personal knowledge of such obstruction and kept his mouth shut.

By mid-summer the House has begun impeachment of both Palin and McCain and, based on the bitter aftertaste of McCain's campaign, actually votes through a number of articles of impeachment. There is a Senate trial next fall and both the POTUS and VPOTUS are impeached by the end of the year.

So, who is POTUS now? It boggles the mind, don't it. By picking Sarah Palin as his running mate John McCain may be paving the way for our first woman POTUS...President Nancy Pelosi??? Got sort of a nice ring to it, eh?

Posted by: majun on September 19, 2008 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry I meant to say both POTUS and VPOTUS are convicted...not impeached.

Posted by: majun on September 19, 2008 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

maybe the plan here is that a few weeks after inauguaration, there will be a tearful press conference in which Palin, after pulling off her librarian glasses and shaking down her hair, will sob that she tragically cannot allow this partisan witch hunt to compromise the nobility of John McCain and his administration, and so with great regret she is resigning, and McCsin gets to appoint Lieberman or Ridge

Are you kidding? Palin is a True Believer of the wacky fundamentalist wing of the GOP. There's no way in hell she'd step down in favor of a pro-lifer. Even if she did, the religious right would never trust the GOP again, and as this election season proves, the Repukes need those votes.

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2008 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Todd Palin, who participates in state business in person or by e-mail, was among 13 people subpoenaed by the Alaska Legislature.

Remind me -- what elective or appointed position does Todd Palin hold in the Alaskan state government?

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2008 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Luther: So what? at issue here is Todd Palin's participation in the business of state, not privileged marital communication.

shortstop is right, by the way, that Palin's run-out-the-clock-until-election-day strategy is likely to work from a legal point of view. The trick is to make her stonewalling, as once with Tricky Dick's, too politically costly to maintain.

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2008 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

This isn't a civil or criminal case, Luther; this is an independent investigation instituted by the Alaska lege. If someone has an example of someone having successfully used spousal privilege to avoid testifying before the U.S. Congress or a state legislature, I'd surely like to see it.

Posted by: shortstop on September 19, 2008 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

The marital confidences privilege....."

The marital confidence privilege is completely inapplicable here, because among other reasons:

(1) what is at issue is not the content of private marital communications between Todd and Sarah Palin, but the content of Tdd Palin's communications to other state employees.

(2) the fact that you may have a privilege does not excuse you from showing up. To assert a privilege you have to show up and then claim that right at the relevant hearing.

(3) this is not a civil or criminal case. It is an independent oversight investigaton by the legislative branch regarding executive branch actions.

Posted by: Stefan on September 19, 2008 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Tinker-to-Evans-to-Chance -- so much for Luther's spousal privilege post.

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2008 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry -- Evers.

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2008 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

actually stefan doesn't know what he's talking about...the marital confidences privilege could apply here...when you have emails combining communication with state employees and what is obviously a personal conversation with your wife, i'd judge that the spousal discussion takes precedence legally...as for this not being a civil or criminal case, the palins' lawyer would be a fool not to try to test this principle in a legislative investigation. i know i would. but then, i've got balls.

Posted by: shortstop's best imitation of nathan on September 19, 2008 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Well, this tears it. The Palins *need* McCain to win now. The only reason the Alaska GOP is suddenly abandoning the rule of law is because they're getting behind the national effort. A lot of them reportedly don't like Palin because her style is pretty grating. If McCain loses in November, chances are Alaska will return to business as usual and the investigation will go on. Except that the stonewalling Palin is doing now will be used as evidence against her. And Todd will be dragged into the mess also.

Remember, kids, the GOP only protects you if you are a wealthy business mogul or a high-ranking party member. If Palin isn't the VP-elect after the November election, she can kiss her immunity goodbye.

Posted by: Shade Tail on September 19, 2008 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

MaryL wrote: "As Rachel Maddow has said repeatedly, if Palin really had nothing to hide, cooperating with the investigation would have been a winning strategy for the campaign."

Sarah Palin, of course, knows exactly what she did. So Palin, and her lawyers, know that her actions were not merely improper, but criminal. That's why they will not cooperate.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 19, 2008 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

It's starting to look like the whole point of picking Palin was to scuttle this investigation. Given the relationship between the oil industry and the spouse of the governor of Alaska, it's not hard to imagine a few ways in which this investigation would ruin a really good thing for Big Oil. In that case, we were all asking the wrong questions about energizing the base and stealing the Hillary PUMA vote -- we should have followed the money, as usual.

PS -- I don't think it's realistic to think that this will all get resolved in a poetic way if McCain loses. I don't think the wager pays off differently whether McCain wins or loses. I think it's a whitewash either way.

Posted by: diddy on September 19, 2008 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Since the Alaskan legislature can't vote on the subpoenas until after the election, what is preventing a Freedom of Information request from being filed about the emails?
Certainly, the McCain campaign would oppose the request and it would have to be decided by a court ruling. If nothing else, that would get a legal decision on whether the emails are "government-related" or "private" communications. If the former, then a request for their immediate publication could be made.
If the ruling is that the emails are "private" communications, they still might be susceptible to subpoenas by the Alaskan legislature after the election.
In any case, continually referring to Palin's flip-flopping attitude to Troopergate certainly isn't helping the Republican campaign.

Posted by: Doug on September 19, 2008 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

One of the previous posts was right. Someone, other than Obama should make sure more of the public is aware of this than just those who read it here. Sounds like just more of the same corrupt politicians!

Posted by: JR on September 20, 2008 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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