Sarah Palin is scheduled to give a deposition in an investigation into her firing of Alaska's top public safety official.
Palin to give deposition in 'Troopergate' investigation
Washington // Sarah Palin is scheduled to give a deposition today in an investigation into her firing of Alaska's top public safety official, two weeks after a separate inquiry into the same matter found she had abused the powers of her office. The deposition of the Alaska governor and number two on the Republican presidential ticket is part of an inquiry by the Alaska Personnel Board, the second body to investigate whether Mrs Palin acted properly in dismissing the state's former public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan. Mr Monegan claims Mrs Palin fired him for refusing to dismiss her former brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, a state trooper who has been the subject of several professional complaints but has also sparred with the Palin family. Mrs Palin has denied any wrongdoing. A separate investigation conducted for the Alaska state legislature, the findings of which were released on Oct 10, concluded that Mrs Palin had abused her power, and thus violated state ethics law, by exerting pressure on subordinates to get Mr Wooten fired, and allowing her husband, Todd Palin, to do the same. The report by the special investigator, Stephen Branchflower, said Mr Monegan's refusal to fire Mr Wooten was not the sole reason for, but likely a "contributing factor" in, Mrs Palin's dismissal of the public safety commissioner. But it found that her firing of him was within her right, and a "proper and lawful" exercise of her authority. Mrs Palin has seized upon that language in the report, repeatedly contending on the campaign stump - falsely - that she has been cleared of "any hint of unethical behaviour". Today's deposition will be Mrs Palin's first in the matter that has come to be known as "Troopergate". She initially agreed to be interviewed in the legislature's inquiry but later declined after she joined John McCain on the Republican ticket. She has called that investigation overly partisan and asked the personnel board - whose three members are gubernatorial appointees - to look into the matter instead. The selection of Mrs Palin has energised many Republicans in the party's conservative wing who were unenthusiastic at best about Mr McCain. Huge crowds have turned out to see her, chanting "Sa-rah, --Sa-rah". But according to several new polls, her selection as the vice-presidential nominee has also raised concerns in the minds of some voters. In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, 55 per cent of respondents said the Alaska governor - a former small-town mayor who has called herself "just your average hockey mom" - is not qualified to serve as president. Also, the percentage of people who view her positively has plummeted, from 47 per cent in early September, shortly after she was announced as Mr McCain's running mate, to a little more than 25 per cent now. In endorsing Barack Obama last weekend, Colin Powell, the former secretary of state under George W Bush and a fellow Republican, contended she is not qualified for the job. "She's a very distinguished woman, and she's to be admired," Mr Powell said. "But at the same time, now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president." Several prominent conservatives have likewise raised questions about her readiness - and what her pick says about Mr McCain's judgement. Writing last month in the National Review, Kathleen Parker, a nationally syndicated columnist who was initially "delighted" by the selection of Mrs Palin, dubbed the governor "Clearly Out of Her League", and suggested she step down for the good of the ticket. Mr Palin, who submitted an affidavit in the first investigation, is also expected to give a deposition today. The Palins' lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, said the depositions will be taken somewhere outside of Alaska - Mrs Palin is in the midst of campaigning - and are expected to last about three hours. firstname.lastname@example.org