Declaring yesterday that they are “done answering questions” about Troopergate, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) and her aides have refused to cooperate with the legislative assembly’s investigation into allegations she wrongfully fired the police commissioner. Instead, they are answering only to the Personnel Board investigation — a board of three people appointed by the governor. (All three were appointed by former Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski, and one was reappointed by Palin.)
Today, the Anchorage Daily News reports that Palin could end the Personnel Board hearing “simply by refusing to cooperate.” State law allows the person who filed the complaint — in this case, Palin herself — to end the investigation by refusing to participate:
Alaska Statute 39.52.310: (i) The unwillingness of a complainant to assist in an investigation, the withdrawal of a complaint, or restitution by the subject of the complaint may, but need not in and of itself, justify termination of an investigation or proceeding.
The investigation, in other words, could end any moment Palin — or the McCain campaign — decides it’s going too far. Alternatively, even if the Personnel Board inquiry is allowed to be completed, its findings could remain secret. “The proceedings of the board are conducted in secret,” the New York Times reported, and according to former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles, it may never release its findings publicly:
“The personnel board would usually take two or three months to take a look at this,” [Knowles] said. “Nothing about the complaints are made public until there is a final report, and even that may not be made public.”
Palin has apparently learned a lot from the current Vice President. That she could suspend the inquiry at any moment or keep its findings — which will likely come out long after the election — secret forever only emphasizes how crucial it is that Palin and McCain stop stonewalling the Alaska legislature’s independent, bipartisan investigation and allow the truth to come out.
The investigating lawyer appointed by the Personnel Board, Tim Petumenos, has helped Palin in the past, as the Anchorage Daily News points out: “In 2002, his firm handled the $15 million bond issue for Wasilla’s hockey complex, a pet project of then-mayor Palin.”