Troopergate Still Hounds Palin

Demonstrators gathered Saturday in Anchorage to demand that Gov. Sarah Palin keep her earlier pledge to cooperate with the corruption probe know as Troopergate.

But an investigation that once seemed of interest only to Alaskans has taken on much greater significance with her presence on the Republican presidential ticket, reports CBS News correspondent John Blackstone.

At the Alaska Legislative Building in downtown Anchorage Friday, the hearing room was ready for seven state employees subpoenaed to testify. But no one showed up.

The inquiry into Palin's firing of the head of the state police began with her promising full cooperation.

"I did not abuse my office powers, yeah, and I don't know how to be more blunt and candid and honest about it but to tell you the truth that no pressure was ever put on anybody to fire anybody," Palin said in July.

But now, 10 witnesses associated with the governor, including her husband Todd, have refused to testify.

Palin's supporters complain the investigation is being used to smear her as she campaigns as John McCain's running mate. They think any findings will be tainted.

"If this is all supposed to be done at arm's length from the political process, I think the genie's out of the bottle," said State Sen. Gene Therriault, a Republican. "And I don't know how you can put him back in."

Supporters of the inquiry say presidential politics is behind an all-out push to close the investigation down.

"There are many efforts to try to stop the investigation, no doubt about it," said Democratic State Sen. Bill Wielechowski, who told CBS News he thinks the McCain campaign is behind those efforts.

Alaska's attorney general has filed a lawsuit challenging the "validity" of the subpoenas issued in the investigation. And six Alaskan lawmakers who support Palin are seeking a temporary restraining order to bring the investigation to a halt until after the election.

While Palin remains popular in Alaska overall, Troopergate and the presidential campaign seem to be taking a toll on her popularity even here.

A month ago when she got the vice presidential nod, her favorable rating among Alaskans was 82 percent. According to a poll released this week, that number's dropped to 68 percent.
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