What was once an ugly divorce involving Gov. Sarah Palin's sister is now at the center of a political showdown in Alaska and on the campaign trail.

The question: Did Palin, her husband, Todd, or any of her staff put pressure on the state's top cop to fire the governor's ex-brother-in-law, State Trooper Mike Wooten?

An investigator hired by Alaska lawmakers plans to subpoena Palin's husband and several of her staff.

"He's made many comments about how it appeared that DPS [the Department of Public Safety] is not doing its job because of Wooten. He wanted him fired, and I'm hoping that the subpoena, if issued, will permit me to interview him," said investigator Stephen Branchflower.

Now, Republican lawmakers in Alaska argue the investigation has become a political circus. They call it partisan payback. It's already a distraction, if not yet an embarrassment, for the governor. Five state lawmakers have sued to block the investigation.

They said the two Democrats and the former Anchorage prosecutor leading the probe "are unable to hold the balance between vindicating their own political interests and the interests of those who are being investigated."