Palin's Husband Refuses To Testify In Probe

Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is campaigning on her record as a champion of transparency in government. Many Alaskans believe she's brought more openness to state government. But now the McCain campaign says that Palin's husband, Todd, will not testify before the state legislature, which is investigating whether Governor Palin tried to get her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's Morning Edition from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Here's the latest on the Alaska legislature's ethics investigation of Governor Sarah Palin. The McCain campaign says that Governor Palin's husband, Todd, will not obey a subpoena to testify before the state legislature. It is the latest move by the campaign to head off the probe into whether Governor Palin tried to get her ex-brother-in-law fired from his job as a state trooper. Here's NPR's Martin Kaste.

MARTIN KASTE: Palin's attorney general has already argued that the governor's aides don't have to obey the legislature's subpoenas, because their boss wants the matter handled by a separate ethics board. Now, Todd Palin is also refusing to testify. He's risking a fine or jail time, but only if the legislature enforces the subpoenas - a big if. The Palins weren't always opposed to this investigation. Back in July, the governor pledged to cooperate. But McCain campaign's spokesman Taylor Griffin says things are different now.

Mr. W. TAYLOR GRIFFIN (Spokesman, John McCain for President 2008): Sarah Palin was selected as John McCain's running mate, and a switch was flipped. This changed the tenure of the investigation. It changed it from being impartial, unbiased investigation to something that was really being driven by politics.

KASTE: This argument angers John Cyr, head of the state troopers' union, which has filed its own ethic complaint against Palin.

Mr. JOHN CYR (Executive Director, Alaska Public Safety Employees Association): The fact that's she's now a vice-presidential candidate, it would seem to me, would indicate that she would want to be even more forthcoming.

KASTE: Cyr denies the McCain campaign's claim that the investigation has political motives. He points out that Republicans are the majority on the committees that started the investigation, and that the investigator they hired is a retired prosecutor with a reputation of impartiality.

Mr. CYR: I find it, frankly, amazing that a governor whose - the basis of her campaign was open and transparent government would tell her staff not to comply with issued subpoenas.

KASTE: Transparency has been a theme for Palin, first running for governor and now for vice president.

(Soundbite of campaign speech, September 10, 2008)

Governor SARAH PALIN (Republican, Alaska; 2008 Republican Vice Presidential Nominee): The ethical standard that has led to closed doors, closed-door dealings of self-interest? It's gone.

KASTE: Most Alaskans will tell you it's true.

Former State Representative RAY METCALF (Republican, Alaska; 2008 Democratic Senatorial Candidate, Alaska): She has brought the transparency to the office that had never been before.

KASTE: Ray Metcalf is a long-time anti-corruption campaigner. Even though he's an Obama supporter, he says Palin has really changed things in Alaska.

Rep. METCALF: She's been taking on the good old boys in that sense. She deserves to be credited fir it.

KASTE: Still, Metcalf says Palin has mishandled the trooper situation. He thinks she had good reasons to want her ex-brother-in-law fired, given his history of misconduct, and Metcalf wishes she'd just been upfront about it. The Palin administration can be secretive at times. Andree McLeod is an Alaska Republican who's filed requests for documents from Palin's office on an unrelated allegation of patronage.

Ms. ANDREE MCLEOD (Resident, Anchorage, Alaska): Sarah Palin was elected on the basis of providing open, honest, transparent and ethical government. And from what I see on my dining-room table, she has failed miserably.

KASTE: McLeod got four boxes of papers from the Palin administration, but 1100 documents were withheld or redacted. The McCain campaign says these were legitimate redactions to protect privacy or the governor's deliberative the process. That's now the subject of a formal complaint, but in the meantime, McLeod's document request has also revealed this interesting tidbit.

Ms. MCLEOD: Most of the emails that I've found that are going to or coming from Sarah Palin are using her private email account. I found one where somebody sent an email to the official governor's email address and was told you're sending it to the wrong address. You need to send it to her personal account. And he says whoops.

KASTE: The McCain campaign says the governor was careful to CC her state account when personal emails contained substantial amounts of public business. But it's hard to find out for sure. Since the existence of Palin's Yahoo! accounts became public, they were apparently hacked, and then she shut them down. Martin Kaste, NPR News.

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