Palin aides don't appear at abuse probe

Alaska Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, State Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, right, reads a statement on the refusal of subpoenaed witnesses for the Troopergate investigation to appear before the committee in Anchorage, Alaska on Friday, as Alaska State Rep. Jay Ramras, R-Fairbanks, left, and Alaska Senate Judiciary members, state Sen. Gene Therriault, R-North Pole, and Sen. Bill Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, second right, listen.Al Grillo / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Seven of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's top aides defied subpoenas for their testimony Friday into possible abuse of power by the governor.

Palin's Chief of Staff Mike Nizich and six other aides failed to appear at a legislative hearing into whether Palin abused her power when she fired her public safety commissioner this summer.

Alaska Senate Judiciary Chairman Hollis French, D-Anchorage, waited 30 minutes Friday before reading a statement that the witnesses could be found in contempt when the full Legislature convenes in January.

Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg filed a lawsuit on behalf of the seven state workers Thursday challenging the subpoenas. He claims the committee has no jurisdiction to issue subpoenas in the investigation.

Colberg planned a news conference later Friday.

Palin fired Walt Monegan, the public safety commissioner, in July. He claims he was fired for refusing to fire a state trooper who had gone through a nasty divorce with Palin's sister.

He claims he was pressured by Palin, her husband and members of her staff to fire the trooper.

Palin denies the charge, and says he was dismissed over budget disagreements.

The Legislative Council, in a unanimous bipartisan vote, ordered an investigation into Monegan's firing, and Palin agreed to cooperate — until she was named John McCain's running mate.

Since then, Palin — through the McCain campaign — has accused lawmakers of manipulating the probe to be potentially damaging ahead of the November election.

Most witnesses under subpoena have refused to testify before the special investigator or the legislative body.

Five Republican state legislators have filed a lawsuit seeking to halt the Legislative Council's investigation.