Judge backs Palin investigation
Aides to Mrs Palin say the case has been tainted by partisan politics
An Alaskan judge has refused to block a probe into an alleged abuse of power by Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate for vice-president.
Alaska's Legislative Council ordered a probe earlier this year into whether Mrs Palin acted properly when she fired the state's public safety commissioner.
A lawsuit filed by Republican lawmakers said the council had exceeded its authority when it ordered the probe.
But the judge said the investigation was within the council's power.
An independent investigator, Steve Branchflower, is due to present his findings on 10 October.
Mr Branchflower is examining claims that Mrs Palin pressured the commissioner to fire a state trooper who had been through a bitter divorce with her sister.
Mrs Palin denies the claims, and says commissioner Walt Monegan was ousted over budget disagreements.
'Not fair treatment'
In his decision, Judge Peter Michalski wrote that it was "legitimately within the scope of the legislature's investigatory power to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the termination [of] a public officer".
Republican politicians claim the investigation, ordered by the bipartisan council, has become tainted by partisan politics since Mrs Palin was chosen as the Republican party's nominee for vice-president.
Kevin Clarkson, a lawyer for the five Republican state legislators who brought the lawsuit, said the manner in which the investigation was being conducted and its timing "violates the fundamental, affirmative individual constitutional right to fair and just treatment", the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Judge Michalski also threw out a lawsuit filed by Mrs Palin's aides seeking to dismiss subpoenas compelling the governer's staff to testify in the investigation.
Mrs Palin's husband, Todd Palin, had also refused to testify under subpoena to the investigator, although he was not a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
His lawyer said no decision had been made on whether he would now speak.