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Senate Says Governor's Staffers Committed Contempt
Resolution Clarifies Legislature's Authority in Subpoena Cases


February 09, 2009

By a vote of 16 to 1, the State Senate on Friday passed Senate Resolution 5, stating that ten Palin Administration employees who did not comply with legislative subpoenas last fall committed contempt.

"During the Monegan investigation, we were reminded that the legislative branch's power of subpoena is an important one, and must be respected by the executive branch," said Senator Hollis French (D-Anchorage), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which sponsored the resolution. "With this resolution, the Senate is making it clear that we are a co-equal branch of state government."

Last September, the Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas to ten executive branch employees in connection with the investigation into the circumstances surrounding Governor Palin's firing of former public safety commissioner Walt Monegan. Attorney General Talis Colberg challenged the validity of the subpoenas, and the witnesses did not appear as ordered to testify before the committee.

"It was very frustrating to many legislators, in both parties and in both the House and the Senate, that the administration refused to honor our subpoenas." French said. "As the Superior Court later affirmed, the legislative branch clearly has subpoena powers, and the subpoenas were valid and legal. Today's resolution is not about re-fighting old battles; it's about making sure the legislature will be able to play its traditional, vital role in the democratic process in the future."

Senate Resolution 5 states that, "while the witnesses who did not appear as required by their subpoenas committed contempt, under the totality of the circumstances, the Senate imposes no penalty for their failure to appear."


Source of News:

Senate Bipartisan Working Group



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