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Published: Wednesday, 2/11/2009

Top official in Alaska Troopergate resigns post


JUNEAU - Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg, a major figure in the abuse-of-power investigation of Gov. Sarah Palin, has resigned, the governor's office said yesterday.

Mr. Colberg, who was appointed to the post in 2006 after Mrs. Palin was elected, represented seven of nine state employees who initially refused to testify before a legislative panel investigating Mrs. Palin's firing of her public safety commissioner in what became known as Troopergate. Mr. Colberg said he advised the seven of their options, and he unsuccessfully challenged the subpoenas in court.

"I determined that it was in the best interest of the state of Alaska to move on and pursue other opportunities," Mr. Colberg said in a statement issued yesterday by Mrs. Palin's office.

A Palin's spokesman said the resignation was a personal decision for Mr. Colberg, and Mrs. Palin neither fired him nor pressured him to quit.

Rick Svobodny, head of the state's criminal division, was named acting attorney general. Governor Palin raised the question of whether the current political climate was a factor in Mr. Colberg's decision.

"In not wanting to speculate on his personal decision; I would hope this harsh political climate we are in right now won't deter others who want to help this great state," Mrs. Palin said.

While lawmakers continue to blame John McCain and Mrs. Palin's campaign operatives for lingering hard feelings in Alaska, Mrs. Palin blamed the climate on lawmakers positioning themselves for the upcoming campaign season.

"Those are the issues that created the harsh political environment that Talis was thrust into," Governor Palin said.

The Troopergate investigation looked into whether Mrs. Palin, assisted by aides and her husband, who also was subpoenaed, pressured public safety commissioner Walt Monegan to fire a state trooper involved in a contentious divorce with Mrs. Palin's sister and then fired Mr. Monegan when he wouldn't dismiss the trooper.

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