Troopergate isn’t quite done yet

TROOPERGATE ISN’T QUITE DONE YET…. The independent investigation launched by the Alaskan legislature into Sarah Palin’s abuse-of-power scandal wrapped up on Friday with a damaging report. But the story isn’t quite done yet — there’s one more investigation to go.

After Palin joined the national Republican ticket, and decided that the independent investigation wasn’t such a good idea after all, her administration decided it preferred a different probe, run by Alaska’s personnel board, which is made up of members who answer to Palin. Yesterday, a Palin spokesperson said both the governor and her husband will answer questions next week as part of this other investigation.

Is anything likely to come of this? We already know that Palin abused the powers of her office, violated state ethics, violated the public trust, and lied about it. My suspicion has been that Republicans wanted one more report — in this case, a less objective one — to clear Palin of any wrongdoing. The new talking point would be, “One investigation cleared Palin, one didn’t, so let’s just forget the whole thing.”

There is, however, a catch. Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff reports that the personnel board’s probe may be trickier than Palin assumed.

[T]he board ended up hiring an aggressive Anchorage trial lawyer, Timothy Petumenos, as an independent counsel. McCain aides were chagrined to discover that Petumenos was a Democrat who had contributed to Palin’s 2006 opponent for governor, Tony Knowles. Palin is now scheduled to be questioned next week, and the counsel’s report could be released soon after. “We took a gamble when we went to the personnel board,” said a McCain aide who asked not to be identified discussing strategy. While the McCain camp still insists Palin “has nothing to hide,” it acknowledges a critical finding by Petumenos would be even harder to dismiss.

Complicating matters slightly, the Anchorage Daily News reports this morning that the personnel board’s investigation of Palin has been “broadened” to include “other ethics complaints against the governor.”

Stay tuned.