ProPublica

Journalism in the Public Interest

Cancel

Palin’s Office Rebuffs Investigators, Press

Spokespersons with the McCain campaign in a news conference in Anchorage, Alaska, showing Barack Obama at the center of the 'Web of Connections' in 'Troopergate' inquiry. (Credit: Al Grillo/AP Photo)Efforts from Gov. Palin’s office and others to fight the investigation into “Troopergate” are heading into overdrive. Alaska’s attorney general said yesterday that state employees won’t honor the subpoenas to testify that have been issued in the probe. The attorney general is a Palin appointee. Meanwhile, five Republican lawmakers in Alaska filed a lawsuit and asked a judge for an emergency order to stop what they called the legislature’s “McCarthyistic investigation.”

The Associated Press notes that McCain’s campaign is taking a more active role. According to the AP, the campaign has “dispatched a former top U.S. terrorism prosecutor from New York, Ed O’Callaghan, to assist Palin’s personal lawyer working to derail or delay” the investigation.

The strategy also extends to dealing with the press. As the AP notes, this week Palin “effectively turned over questions about her record as Alaska’s governor to John McCain’s political campaign.”

National reporters are essentially no longer allowed to speak with Alaska officials, including those in the governor’s office:

The McCain campaign is demanding that it becomes the de facto source for answers about the operations of Alaska’s government during the past 20 months.

Palin’s normal press secretary, for example, now turns away inquiries from any reporter who isn’t permanently based in Alaska, referring questions to the presidential campaign.

When the AP asked the state’s health department about some health-related lawsuits, they were referred to a McCain spokeswoman. “In general the state is sending media inquiries this way because we’re just inundated with hundreds and hundreds of phone calls,” the spokeswoman told the AP.

Earlier this week, a ProPublica reporter called the governor’s office and had a similar experience. Asked about the state’s use of eBay, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, Kate Morgan, referred ProPublica to the McCain campaign. The reason cited? Alaska state ethics law.

“Our ethics law in Alaska doesn’t allow for state workers to answer questions about campaign matters,” explained Morgan. “We have so many press calls coming in, and reporters often aren’t clear whether questions are campaign-related. If the McCain campaign decides the question has to do with state business, they will refer the call back.”

Can anyone direct me to a site that actually includes specific, informative details of Mr O’Callaghan’s press conference. The illustrated chart in the picture is quite intriguing and needs to be explained. The proliferation of attacks and accusations against Ms. Palin should be balanced with at least a few in her defence. It would be refreshing to read something specific in her defence on the Pro Publica website.