ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The investigator looking into whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power in trying to get her former brother-in-law fired is asking state lawmakers for the power to subpoena Palin's husband, Todd.

The probe has taken on new significance since Republican presidential candidate John McCain picked Palin as his running mate.

Retired prosecutor Stephen Branchflower asked the state House and Senate judiciary committees for power to subpoena 13 witnesses, including Todd Palin.

"He's such a central figure. ... I think one should be issued for him," Branchflower said.

The committees were expected to grant the request.

Branchflower said he wants to interview Palin herself, but did not ask for a subpoena for her.

The Legislature hired Branchflower to examine whether Palin ousted her public safety commissioner in July because he had refused to fire state trooper Mike Wooten. Wooten went through a messy divorce from Palin's sister, and the investigation essentially is looking at whether Palin used her power to try to settle a personal score.

One member of Palin's administration was caught on tape discussing personal information about Wooten, raising questions of how he knew those details.

The state has threatened to go to court to block at least some of the subpoenas for some of the witnesses unless lawmakers agreed the governor has legal authority to designate staff to review confidential personnel files. On Friday, Branchflower said he agreed with that interpretation of state law.

The investigation — known as "Troopergate" — began before Palin was chosen as Sen. John McCain's running mate. Since then, Palin's supporters and even her lawyer have charged that the investigation is politically motivated, and urged lawmakers to turn the matter over to the three-member State Personnel Board, which is appointed by the governor and charged with handling ethics complaints.

Palin has said she fired the commissioner, Walt Monegan, over disagreements about budget priorities. Monegan says he received repeated e-mails and phone calls from Palin, her husband and her staff expressing dismay over Wooten's continued employment.

Branchflower also asked for a subpoena for the phone records of one Palin administration official, Frank Bailey. Bailey was recorded calling an Alaska State Troopers lieutenant and discussing confidential information about Wooten, including his job application and worker's compensation claim. In a deposition taken by Palin's attorney, he testified that he never saw Wooten's file, but instead received the information from Todd Palin.

Bailey and six other witnesses canceled their scheduled depositions early this month.