Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yesterday came word that Sarah Palin has "lawyered up" for the Troopergate investigation, at state expense. Her new lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, has wasted no time questioning the legitimacy of the legislature's investigation into the matter.
The Anchorage Daily News reports:
Van Flein said the investigation should be handled by the state Personnel Board, not the Legislature, because it's "statutorily mandated" to handle ethics cases. The three-member Personnel Board is appointed by the governor.
Van Flein signaled that Palin probably won't be available for her deposition this month. "Bad timing," given the campaign, he said, although the legislature's investigator is willing to fly wherever the governor is on the campaign trail.
Van Flein has "also asked for all witness statements, documents and other materials collected in the course of the investigation." State Sen. Hollis French, the Democrat overseeing the investigation, wrote to Van Flein:
"Governor Palin has repeatedly stated that she has nothing to hide and that she and her administration will cooperate fully with this investigation. Is your client aware that you seem to be challenging the Legislature's jurisdiction?" French wrote.
"I think you will agree that it would be highly unusual for an investigator to share information with one of the targets of the investigation," French wrote. "I am unaware of any precedent for such an arrangement."
In response, Van Flein played the "Starr card":
"Our concern is that Hollis French turns into Ken Starr and uses public money to pursue a political vendetta rather than truly pursue an honest inquiry into an alleged ethics issue," Van Flein said in an interview.
"We don't have any sex. We don't have any drugs. And there's no blue dress. Nor are there any shady real estate deals here," Van Flein said. "In the big picture, I think people are going to be disappointed that this is not a scandal."
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