A new chapter in the Troopergate scandal; it seems that Alaska. Rep. Gara’s, is calling on the State’s Attorney General to appoint an independent investigator to look into possible criminal witness tampering by McCain-Palin campaign staff. Prompted by the Director of the State Troopers, Colonel Audie Holloway; who feels that there was potential witness tampering, he warrants the matter to be “serious.” Alaska Report has the full details.
Over the past two months McCain-Palin campaign staff tried to stop the Alaska legislature’s bi-partisan Troopergate investigation, which recently concluded with a report that that state’s ethics law was broken. See Michael Isakoff, Newsweek, “Can He Stop Troopergate?” (Sept. 16, 2008). “Until Senator McCain sent campaign staff up here on August 29, everyone, including the Governor, agreed the Legislature’s investigation was proper. After the McCain staffers arrived, people who were willing to testify starting violating their subpoenas. It’s not rocket science that someone worked to change their minds, and that’s a crime under Alaska law,” said Rep. Gara.
The legislative investigation was initiated by a bi-partisan committee of 8 Republicans and 4 Democrats in July, before Governor Palin was named to the McCain ticket. On October 10 that committee voted unanimously to release the independent investigator’s report finding one ethics violation, and finding that the Attorney General had improperly withheld documents.
Alaska’s witness tampering law makes it a crime to “attempt” to “induce” a person not to show up for a legislative subpoena. See statutes below. Approximately 10 witnesses failed to show for subpoenas during the Legislature’s investigation into whether Governor Palin or her staff acted improperly in seeking the firing of her former brother-in-law, a State Trooper. After failing to cooperate with subpoenas, these witnesses have since provided written statements.
Starting on August 29 the McCain campaign tried to create public pressure to stop the investigation with near-daily press conferences, and participated in unsuccessful legal efforts to try to stop the investigation.
Alaska’s witness tampering statutes follow:
Alaska Statute 11.56.545 –
“(a)Tampering with a witness in the second degree: A person commits the crime of tampering with a witness in the second degree if the person knowingly induces or attempts to induce a witness to be absent from an official proceeding, other than a judicial proceeding, to which the witness has been summoned. (b) Tampering with a witness in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor. (Emphasis added).
AS 11.56.540 has similar elements, and is a felony.
I’m glad to see they are getting vocal on this issue. All the witnesses agreed to testify and then all of a sudden they refused. How stupid does the McCain Campaign think the Alaskans are? They send up a whole staff to Alaska to run affairs for the Alaskan government, what is to stop them from applying pressure to witnesses, whose testimony could potentially be damning. Absolutely nothing!
Update: Attorney general Colberg has written Gara back, suggesting he bring his concerns to the state personnel board investigator now looking into complaints against the governor.
“Expanding the scope of the personnel board investigation would accomplish your goal of assuring that the allegations are taken seriously, and it would eliminate the potential for any perceived investigative conflict between the Department of Law and another entity,” the attorney general wrote.
Here’s Colberg’s letter.
McCain-Palin campaign spokeswoman Meg Stapleton sent out this response to Gara’s call for an investigator:
“This is yet another political stunt from Representative Les Gara, a Democratic Alaska state legislator who has been working with the Obama campaign since last year. Rep. Gara’s previous hijinks include sending a letter to the Alaska State Troopers making a similar baseless accusation, and engaging in a sidewalk ambush in front of television cameras and reporters.
Decisions on how to respond to subpoenas in the Legislative Council’s inquiry were made by individual witnesses and their attorneys. No one from the McCain campaign provided advice to witnesses on how to respond to subpoenas.
Consistent with other efforts of Obama supporters nationwide to try to squelch legitimate political debate with baseless threats of criminal investigations of those who dare to take opposing positions, Rep. Les Gara has reverted to these tactics in Alaska once again. Law enforcement’s purpose is to protect the public, not to serve a political agenda.”
For the full story link to Alaska Report.