Palin testifies at 'Troopergate' inquiry

Palin testifies at 'Troopergate' inquiry

Alaska governor Sarah Palin has testified for two hours in an abuse-of-power investigation that has been a distraction to her Republican vice presidential campaign.

Mrs Palin’s leadership was questioned this month in a stinging but largely toothless legislative report that found she violated state ethics laws by letting a family dispute influence her decision-making.

Mrs Palin is hoping the Alaska Personnel Board, which is running a parallel investigation, will clear her of wrongdoing. It is unclear, however, whether any conclusion will be reached before Election Day on November 4.

“I am so pleased to finally have gotten the chance to tell what really happened and get the truth out,” Mrs Palin said in a statement released by her lawyer.

“It was the right thing to do to bring this before the Personnel Board and have a true arms-length unbiased and apolitical investigator look into this.”

The board is investigating the firing of her public safety commissioner, Walter Monegan.

Mr Monegan claims he was dismissed because he refused to fire Mrs Palin’s former brother-in-law, a state trooper involved in a messy divorce from Mrs Palin’s sister.

The controversy, known as 'Troopergate', took on national significance after John McCain selected Mrs Palin as his running mate.

The legislative inquiry found that Mr Monegan’s firing was proper but the pressure to fire the trooper, Mike Wooten, was not.

Mrs Palin stands by her decision to fire Mr Monegan and her concerns about Mr Wooten.

Mrs Palin and her husband, Todd, say Mr Wooten was unstable and had made threats against their family. Mr Wooten had also used an electric stun gun on his stepson.

“I make no apologies for wanting to protect my family and wanting to publicise the injustice of a violent trooper keeping his badge,” Todd Palin said in an affidavit submitted to legislative investigators.

Sarah Palin was not subpoenaed in that investigation.

The testimony before independent investigator Timothy Petumenos was the first time she spoke at length or under oath about the controversy.

Mrs Palin began testifying around 4pm, Mr McCain campaign spokesman Taylor Griffin said. Mrs Palin’s husband, Todd, was scheduled to testify before she did.

Mrs Palin’s attorney, Thomas Van Flein, characterised Mrs Palin’s testimony as “thorough, candid and detailed”.

Mr Van Flein said Mr Petumenos assured him he was working quickly but made no promise the case would be closed before Election Day.

“I just hope the truth comes out,” Mr Van Flein said. “If it’s after the election, it’s after the election.”

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