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CHIEF ALASKA TROOPER SAYS POTENTIAL WITNESS TAMPERING IN TROOPERGATE “SERIOUS”
State Legislator Follows Up On Trooper Letter To Call for Independent Investigator
ANCHORAGE — Today an Alaska legislator called on the State’s Attorney General to appoint an independent investigator to look into possible criminal witness tampering by McCain-Palin campaign staff in Alaska. Rep. Gara’s call came at the suggestion of the Director of the Alaska State Troopers, who called the potential of witness tampering matter “serious.”
Director of the State Troopers, Colonel Audie Holloway, suggested in his letter that the state call on the State Troopers to hire an independent investigator. The letters from Rep. Gara, and from the State Troopers are attached.
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.
The independent investigation concluded on October 10, 2008, when the investigator’s report was released by a unanimous vote of the Alaska Legislature’s Legislative Council. A separate investigation by the State’s Personnel Board is ongoing.
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.
Alaska Statutes: Sentences S 12.55.135
provides: (a) A defendant convicted of a class A misdemeanor may be sentenced to a definite term of imprisonment of not more than one year.