A pattern of behavior

Thomas Van Flein, Governor Palin's new lawyer, today:
We fully welcome a fair inquiry into these allegations, and believe that the Personnel Board is statutorily mandated to oversee these proceedings. We trust you have no objection to following state law in that regard and will work with us in adhering to state law and submitting these issues to the body properly vested with primary jurisdiction. |source (pdf!!)|

According to media reports, he clears $185 an hour working on the case, and is budgeted for about 500 hours. Nice work if you can get it.

Amusingly, Van Flein went on to request that the independent investigation provide his office with, "a copy of all witness statements you have...all documentary evidence you have, any witness list you have, and a copy of the complaint or other charging document upon which you are basing your investigation." Presumably, Van Flein will tomorrow explain that the materials are intended to be sent on to the Personnel Board.

Senator Hollis French, administrating the investigation and writing on Judiciary Committee stationary, said no:
Your letter goes on to request that Mr. Branchflower work with you "in adhering to state law and submitting these issues to the body properly vested with primary jurisdiction" I confess that I may be misunderstanding your point. The Legislature, of course, has its own separate powers of investigation. I hope you are not suggesting that the Legislature does not have the authority to investigate potential violations of law by members of the Executive Branch. Governor Palin has repeatedly stated that she has nothing to hide and that she and her administration will cooperate fully with this investigation. Is your client aware that you seem to be challenging the Legislature's jurisdiction? Such a position is at odds with our state's constitution, and with your client's public statements.|source (pdf!!)|

This is the second time in the last few weeks that Palin has attempted to move the investigation into a venue she controls. Previously, Governor Palin directed Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg to launch an investigation of the charges. This was widely seen as an attempt to tamper with the work of the already authorized but not yet hired independent investigator. From the August 13th Alaska Daily News:
But critics of the governor -- although not French himself -- have raised the specter of "witness tampering." Some legislators said it doesn't look good for the attorney general to get involved.

"I think it is harmful to the credibility of the administration, harmful to the process and harmful to all the parties involved," said Fairbanks Republican Rep. Jay Ramras, chair of the House Judiciary Committee. "It's just the worst possible thing to be doing."

That whitewash blew up in Palin's face, but the failure of the gambit hardly excuses it. And here it is again.

Let's suppose for a minute that Governor Palin didn't do anything wrong up until and including her firing of Monegan. It would still remain true that in the last month she has repeatedly lied about her actions in the Wooten affar and has repeatedly tried to preempt the Legislature's investigation. She's stonewalling, pure and simple. I don't know what her middle name is, but I'm starting to suspect that it must start with a 'W'.

On a side note, and just to show that the ridiculousness never stops, if I'm reading the news right, it's because of the attempted whitewash that the State of Alaska is now having to shell out $95,000 for a private lawyer. In the normal course of things, the AG would provide counsel, but because the AG's investigation uncovered evidence in the scandal, the AG may be required to give a deposition and so he had to recuse himself from the case.

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