Was there witness tampering in Troopergate investigation?

October 20, 2008

State Rep. Les Gara said in a press release Monday that he has called on the Attorney General to appoint an independent investigator to look into possible criminal witness tampering by McCain-Palin campaign staff in Alaska. Gara says his request 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, Col. Audie Holloway, suggested in a letter that the state call on the Troopers to hire an independent investigator. Over the past two months, Gara claims, McCain-Palin campaign staff tried to stop the Alaska Legislature's bipartisan Troopergate investigation, which recently concluded with a report that that state's ethics law was broken.

“Until Senator McCain sent campaign staff up here on Aug. 29, everyone, including the Governor, agreed the Legislature's investigation was proper,” Gara said in his press release. “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.”

Here’s the rest of Gara’s press release

The legislative investigation was initiated by a committee of eight Republicans and four Democrats in July, before Palin was named to the McCain ticket. On Oct. 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.

'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.

Was there witness tampering in Troopergate investigation?