ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Republican U.S. Senate nominee Joe Miller was the attorney for a group of citizens from the Fairbanks-North Pole area who filed a lawsuit to stop the state Legislature’s investigation of the Troopergate incident involving former Gov. Sarah Palin, according to the Alaska Dispatch website.
It was one of two lawsuits filed to block the legislative probe; the other case involved a group of Republican lawmakers.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s campaign says Miller’s involvement in Troopergate means that Palin’s endorsement of his Senate run is a form of political payback -- but Miller supporters say he was simply a lawyer doing his job.
In the supercharged political atmosphere of summer 2008, Palin was tapped as Arizona Sen. John McCain's running mate during his presidential run – promptly plunging her under intense scrutiny on the national stage.
At the time, state lawmakers were conducting a legislative investigation to find out if Palin abused her powers as governor when she fired Department of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.
The investigation revolved around whether Palin dismissed Monegan because he refused to fire her former brother-in-law, Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten.
When a group of citizens sought to block the investigation, as their attorney Miller argued that the legislative investigation violated the state constitution, which gives the governor the power to hire and fire.
Lawmakers heading the probe, however, said the constitution also gave them the power to investigate the executive branch.
“There's no way that anyone who calls himself a strict constitutionalist would ever have filed this lawsuit -- as a strict constitutionalist, you would totally believe in and support the separation of powers,” said the Senate Judiciary Committee’s chair, Sen. Hollis French.
French says Miller's role in the lawsuit raises questions about his fitness to serve as senator, if the Senate is called upon to investigate wrongdoing at the White House.
“Certainly, you would not want a U.S. senator who truly believes that the legislature can't investigate the executive branch; that would involve him turning his back on potential misuses of power in Washington,” French said.
“It's amazing, the little nitpicking that's going on in this campaign -- it's really sad,” Ross said.
Lawyer Wayne Anthony Ross says lawmakers went on a similar fishing expedition into his own record when the Legislature rejected his appointment by Palin as attorney general.
The confirmation hearings for Ross were contentious, with lawmakers raising concerns about clients he represented like the Alaska Outdoor Council.
“For example, if I represented someone in a murder case, does that mean I support murder? Of course not -- a lawyer's job is to represent his client zealously,” Ross said.
While Ross says that shared lawyer’s zeal will make Miller a good senator, others wonder whether as a senator Miller would safeguard the Constitution’s checks and balances.
The Miller campaign had no comment for this story. His spokesperson said he's in Washington, D.C. raising money.
Contact Rhonda McBride at email@example.com