From David Hulen in Anchorage --
Lots of paper is flying connected with Troopergate today. Now:
> House Speaker John Harris sent a letter this morning to Sen. Kim Elton, chairman of the Legislative Council, demanding that the body convene within a week "for the purpose of discussing the status of the investigation currently underway by Stephen Branchflower...The political landscape certainly has changed since this investigation was authorized by the Legislative Council on July 28, 2008. What started as a bipartisan and impartial effort is becoming overshadowed by public comments from individuals at boths ends of the political spectrum."
> A group of Fairbanks and North Pole citizens filed a lawsuit against Branchflower today. They claim the investigation is unconstitutional and want a judge to stop the investigation.
This afternoon, Elton issued a response by e-mail:
(JUNEAU) - The Judiciary, the third branch of government, is now part of the drama surrounding the Legislative Council’s investigation into “the circumstances and events surrounding the termination of former Public Safety Commissioner Monegan and potential abuses of power and/or improper actions by members of the executive branch.”
Five legislators now are asking the courts to stop an investigation unanimously endorsed by the Legislative Council several weeks before Gov. Sarah Palin was elevated to the Republican national ticket as a vice presidential nominee.
The suit filed in the Superior Court of the State of Alaska seeks “declaratory and injunctive relief in the investigation,” according to the attorney hired by Reps. Wes Keller, Mike Kelly, and Bob Lynn along with Sens. Tom Wagoner and Fred Dyson. Named in the suit in addition to the Council were: Sens. Kim Elton, chair of the Council; Hollis French, project director for the investigation; and Steven Branchflower, the investigator hired by the Council.
“While the suit is a distraction,” Sen. Elton said today, “I’m comfortable with the notion that the court will review the substance of the suit and find the Council acted properly and that the decisions made during the course of the investigation so far are appropriate and well within the mandate of the Council.” He added the investigation will continue pending a ruling from the court.
“The silver lining in this action initiated by the five lawmakers,” Elton said, “is that some of that debate now has been kicked to the judicial branch which, unlike the legislature and the governor’s office, is more insulated from the red-hot passion of presidential politics.”
Elton noted an attorney will be hired to represent the named parties in the suit though a decision on who that attorney will be has not yet been made.