ANCHORAGE, Alaska A Republican lawmaker wants the Democrat overseeing an investigation into Gov. Sarah Palin's dismissal of her public safety commissioner removed because he seems intent on damaging her vice presidential candidacy.
Democratic state Sen. Hollis French "appears to be steering the direction of the investigation, its conclusion and its timing in a manner that will have maximum partisan political impact on the national and state elections," state Rep. John Coghill said in a letter dated Friday.
Coghill, from North Pole, is on the Alaska Legislature's Legislative Council, the body that appointed French to oversee the investigation. The letter was sent to the council chairman, Sen. Kim Elton, D-Juneau, whom Coghill asks to convene a meeting to discuss whether French should be replaced.
Coghill said the council instructed French, an Anchorage Democrat, to keep politics out of the investigation.
"He just failed that, in my view," Coghill told The Associated Press Saturday.
Elton did not immediately return a message left at his office.
In July, the council approved $100,000 for an investigation into whether Palin abused her power by firing Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. Monegan has said he felt pressure form Palin family and staff to dismiss a trooper, Mike Wooten, who went through a messy divorce with her sister before Palin's election as governor.
Coghill wrote in the letter that French was quoted in media reports that the results of the probe were going to be an "October surprise" that is "likely to be damaging to the administration." The comments lead Coghill to believe the investigation is lacking in fairness, neutrality and due process, he wrote.
Coghill said he was not approached by the McCain-Palin campaign to draft the letter, but that he called the campaign to "apprise" them of the letter.
"I'm on my own in this one," he said.
French said he said some things he probably shouldn't have, but noted that he is not in charge of gathering the facts and writing the report. Prosecutor Stephen Branchflower was hired to conduct the investigation and the integrity of the probe remains intact, he said.
"The reason we hired Steve Branchflower was to avoid this entire discussion. Sooner or later everybody gets accused of partisanship no matter what you're doing," French told the AP.
A recent decision to not subpoena the governor in the probe was evidence that the investigation was not politicized, French said.
On Friday, French said the Legislature will subpoena seven other witnesses and that the investigation on a fast track now that Palin is Republican John McCain's running mate.
The investigation previously was expected to end on Oct. 31, five days before the Nov. 4 election. The new target date for Branchflower to complete the report is Oct. 10.
Wooten divorced Palin's sister and served a five day suspension after the Palins filed a complaint against him for threatening Palin's father. The Palins also accused Wooten of using a Taser on his stepson, drinking in his patrol car and illegally shooting a moose.
Monegan was fired by Palin in July. She has strongly denied that Monegan's dismissal had anything to do with her former brother-in-law and has said she welcomes the investigation.
Coghill's efforts were initially reported by Newsweek.