Nation & World

GOP legislator seeks shakeup of 'troopergate' probe

A ranking Republican state representative is calling for Anchorage Democratic Sen. Hollis French to step down as manager of the Legislature's "Troopergate" investigation.

Rep. John Coghill, R-North Pole, today released a letter criticizing statements French purportedly made in media interviews.

Coghill said French remarked that a forthcoming legislative investigation into Gov. Sarah Palin's firing of her former public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, is "likely to be damaging to the administration" and has twice suggested the governor faces potential impeachment.

"These statements cause me to think that the report is already written even though the investigation is only just begun and the most important witnesses have not even been interviewed," Coghill's letter says. "The investigation appears to be lacking in fairness, neutrality and due process."

Coghill wrote the letter to Sen. Kim Elton, D-Juneau, who chairs the bipartisan legislative panel that hired independent investigator Steve Branchflower and designated French as "project director" for the investigation. Coghill is a member of the panel, known as the Legislative Council.

Branchflower is examining whether Palin dismissed Monegan for failure to fire a state trooper involved in a messy divorce with Palin's sister.

A call to French for comment was not immediately returned.

Coghill said French, in an interview carried on, said the report would be an "October surprise" for the Palin administration.

"Sen. French's public statements regarding 'October surprises,' his indication that the report's conclusion has already been written, and his comments implying that he has undisclosed information that would make the governor unfit to be the nominee for vice president of the United States all are direct contrast with the goals of professionalism, lack of bias, and an apolitical investigation," Coghill's letter says.

Coghill said he no longer has confidence in French managing Branchflower and the legislative investigation.

Coghill is a ranking member of the state House, serving as chairman of the powerful Rules Committee.

French chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.