McCain Team Deployed To Alaska To Defend Palin

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Gov. Sarah Palin i

Gov. Sarah Palin addresses supporters last month in Fairbanks, Alaska. John Wagner/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption John Wagner/Getty Images
Gov. Sarah Palin

Gov. Sarah Palin addresses supporters last month in Fairbanks, Alaska.

John Wagner/Getty Images

The Alaska Legislature's "Troopergate" report is due Friday, and national political players have already descended on the state to stave off any possible claims.

One such player is Ed O'Callahan, a recent alumnus of the U.S. attorney's office in New York. He has been in Alaska since mid-September, drawing the attention of locals with his sharp charcoal suit and hyper-shiny shoes.

O'Callahan is part of what the McCain campaign calls its "Truth Squad." The squad was deployed to Alaska to push back against the investigation into whether Gov. Sarah Palin tried to have her ex-brother-in-law fired from his job as a state trooper.

"The campaign responded responsibly and saw the need to have representatives here to respond responsibly, as the legislative inquiry became more and more partisan," he said.

In fact, in this age of rapid-response campaigning, it would constitute political negligence for McCain not to send in guys like O'Callahan.

The way the McCain people see it, "Troopergate" has been commandeered by Democrats. They point to the fact that the Democratic senator managing the investigation told the media that the investigation might "damage" Palin.

Who's In Charge?

It's true the abuse-of-power investigation is being managed by an Obama supporter. But the man hired to do the digging is a retired prosecutor, and the probe was authorized by a legislative committee dominated by Republicans. They're still the majority and could have stopped the investigation but chose not to.

Palin's attorney general did try to stop the probe, pushing instead to have Troopergate investigated by a state ethics board. That didn't go over well with some Alaskans.

Last week, a small crowd of protesters went to the governor's office to demand the attorney general's resignation. Among them was Curtis Lester, who says he thinks the McCain campaign is pulling the strings in Alaska's executive branch.

"They basically, from what we can see, have taken over our department of law, and they are trying to shut down the citizens' request to hold our governor accountable," he said.

The McCain camp has not stopped the probe. The investigator is now getting written responses from reluctant witnesses — even Palin's husband, Todd.

But whatever the report says on Friday, the McCain campaign has managed to cast doubt on its fairness. At the same time, McCain's Truth Squad has become more aware of Alaskan sensibilities and has stepped back to leave the legal wrangling to local Republicans.

As for O'Callahan, the New York lawyer recently made a concession to the local fashion sense — by buying himself a fleece.



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