updated 2/10/2009 4:36:29 PM ET 2009-02-10T21:36:29

Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg, a major figure in the abuse-of-power investigation of former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, has resigned, the Alaska governor's office said Tuesday.

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Colberg, who was appointed to the post in 2006 after Palin was elected, represented seven of nine state employees who initially refused to testify before a legislative panel investigating Palin's firing of her public safety commissioner. Colberg said he advised the seven of their options, and he unsuccessfully challenged the subpoenas in court.

"I determined that it was in the best interest of the State of Alaska to move on and pursue other opportunities," Colberg said in a statement issued Tuesday by Palin's office.

Palin's spokesman, Bill McAllister, said the resignation was a personal decision for Colberg, and Palin neither fired nor pressured him to quit.

Palin wondered whether the current political climate factored in Colberg's decision.

"In not wanting to speculate on his personal decision, I would hope this harsh political climate we are in right now won't deter others who want to help this great state," Palin told The Associated Press.

While lawmakers continue to blame former Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Palin's campaign operatives for lingering hard feelings in Alaska, Palin blamed the climate on lawmakers positioning themselves for the upcoming campaign season.

"Those are the issues that created the harsh political environment that Talis was thrust into," Palin said.

The investigation looked into whether Palin, assisted by aides and her husband, who was also subpoenaed, pressured public safety commissioner Walt Monegan to fire a state trooper involved in a contentious divorce with Palin's sister and then fired Monegan when he wouldn't dismiss the trooper. Palin said Monegan was ousted over budget disagreements.

The House Judiciary Committee criticized Colberg over his role in the employees' initial decision not to honor the subpoenas.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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