Todd Palin: Staff contacts were proper

ANCHORAGE, Alaska The Republican vice presidential nominee, /*Sarah Palin*/, and her husband, /*Todd Palin*/, are the focus of an abuse-of-power investigation by a legislative panel. The panel is expected to meet Friday and release a potentially embarrassing report into her firing of the state's public safety commissioner.

The inquiry has been a distraction for /*John McCain*/'s presidential campaign, and the report could shed light on how his running mate, Palin, governs and what role her husband might have played in her administration.

"I have heard criticism that I am too involved in my wife's administration," Todd Palin wrote in an affidavit Wednesday that was provided to The Associated Press. "My wife and I are very close. We are each other's best friend. I have helped her in her career the best I can, and she has helped me."

The Palins are accused of pressuring Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan to fire a state trooper who had gone through a messy divorce with the governor's sister. When he resisted, Monegan says, Gov. Palin fired him.

Gov. Palin has said she fired Monegan after a series of budget disputes, which McCain's campaign has documented in e-mails between Monegan and members of her administration.

The 52-page affidavit submitted by Todd Palin was in response to written questions put to him by legislative investigators. It was the first time he has weighed in on the controversy that has become known as Troopergate.

He answered the questions and provided his first detailed views on how the Monegan case was handled. He also expanded on complaints about his former brother-in-law, Mike Wooten.

Palin described Wooten as a violent and unstable man who had threatened the family's safety, who shot his stepson with an electric stun gun and unfairly collected disability. The Palins hired a private investigator to look into Wooten's behavior before his divorce from Sarah Palin's sister in January 2006.

Todd Palin said he was frustrated that Wooten kept his job, despite all that, and he complained to senior officials in his wife's administration. He complained to his wife so much, he said, she told him to drop it.

He acknowledged having several conversations with state officials about Wooten's conduct but said he never pressured anyone - including his wife.

"Anyone who knows Sarah knows she is the governor and she calls the shots," Palin wrote. "I make no apologies for wanting to protect my family and wanting to publicize the injustice of a violent trooper keeping his badge."

The document was submitted to legislative investigators the same day a group of Republican lawmakers argued before the state Supreme Court that the legislative inquiry should be shut down and the report not released. Palin is not a part of that lawsuit.

Attorney Kevin Clarkson told the justices that lawmakers are making up the rules as they go along and that case has become an unjust partisan sideshow.

"Even a 5-year-old can understand that when you're playing a game and you can change the rules before the game and during the game, it's not a fair game," Clarkson said.

Though the investigation was approved by a bipartisan vote, Clarkson said Democratic state Sen. Hollis French showed his true intentions when he told reporters the case could provide an "October surprise" for the McCain campaign.

Peter Maassen, an attorney representing the Legislature, said it would be unheard of for the court to block the inquiry.

"The idea that the legislative branch should be reined in because they might say something that could hurt her chances would be the worst interference," Maassen said.

The court said it would rule promptly but did not say when.


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