JUNEAU -- Plans for a possible legislative investigation into Gov. Sarah Palin's firing of her former public safety commissioner have not yet taken shape, a state senator with a prominent role in the matter said Wednesday.
Sen. Kim Elton, D-Juneau, is chairman of the Legislative Council, a committee of seven House members and seven senators that handles legislative business when lawmakers are not meeting in regular session.
Elton took the post only this week, after Anchorage Republican Sen. John Cowdery resigned as Legislative Council chairman citing health problems. Cowdery, R-Anchorage, also is facing federal conspiracy and bribery charges.
Most lawmakers around the Capitol seem to agree that the Legislative Council should play a role in whatever action is deemed appropriate on former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan's July 11 firing, Elton said.
Monegan has said he felt pressure from the Palin family and members of her administration to dismiss a Palmer state trooper involved in a contentious divorce from Palin's sister. The governor has denied any such pressure was applied to Monegan, saying the reason she replaced him was to take the Department of Public Safety in a new and more energetic direction.
Some legislators favor the idea of retaining an independent investigator to look into whether a private family matter led Palin to abuse her power.
Hiring an investigator would cost money, and that's where the Legislative Council comes in, said Elton, who is part of the bipartisan Senate majority headed by Senate President Lyda Green, R-Wasilla.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Legislative Council had no meetings scheduled, and no proposal was before it for mounting an investigation, Elton said.
Personally, Elton said he favors an investigation to try to see if any misconduct occurred. He said he's received more e-mail from Alaskans on the Monegan issue than on any of the pipeline and other energy legislation lawmakers are considering in this summer's special sessions.
"This has gotten to the point where we need to blow the clouds away," Elton said. "It's good for the governor. More importantly, it's good for the public."
Another senator who might have a big role in a Monegan probe, Anchorage Democrat Hollis French, said he expects the Legislative Council will convene a meeting next week to consider the case.
"Most of us feel like something should be done to clear the air," said French, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. "You've still got Monegan out there saying, 'Hey, I was pressured.'"
Most likely, lawmakers will hire an independent investigator rather than hold hearings because legislators need the facts first, French said.
Find Wesley Loy online at adn.com/contact/wloy or call him in Juneau at 586-1531.