Alaska lawmaker says probe clears him of wrongdoing claims
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska state senator on Thursday called for the public release of a report and video that he says clear him of wrongdoing after allegations of inappropriate behavior toward a female House aide surfaced.
Republican Sen. David Wilson of Wasilla also wants House Speaker Bryce Edgmon and House Rules Chair Gabrielle LeDoux to step down from their leadership roles for comments they allegedly made surrounding the investigation and their handling of the matter.
During a news conference in Anchorage, Wilson said he never placed a cellphone between the aide’s legs, an allegation that surfaced on a blog in October.
Reporters for Anchorage television station KTVA and the Juneau Empire later reported witnessing the incident, which happened in June, and in articles described Wilson as placing the phone between or passing it through the aide’s legs.
Wilson said he has “continuously denied these appalling allegations that are being peddled about me. It did not happen.”
Wilson singled out KTVA in asking for an apology. The station’s news director, Janis Harper, said in a statement that KTVA stands behind its reporting.
As Wilson describes it, he was in a Capitol hallway chatting with a cameraman and was told he could not be there. He did not specify who told him that but said he questioned why he was being asked to move.
He said his phone was off, he never bent down and the phone never went between anyone’s legs.
Wilson said Senate President Pete Kelly shared with him the findings of a Legislative Affairs Agency investigation.
Wilson said that while he does not have a copy of the report, he was told that it clears him “of any wrongdoing of sexual harassment and goes in very great detail of why I’m cleared of those allegations.”
He said it’s important for him to have that released because he is innocent and wants to be able to prove his innocence.
Senate leadership released a statement saying that based on legal advice, the report may be released through an official committee and that Kelly, a Fairbanks Republican, has asked the Senate Rules Committee chairman to hold a hearing on the report and to consider its release.
Leadership declined further comment until the report is released.
Senate majority spokesman Daniel McDonald said Kelly was able to discuss the confidential report with Wilson because Wilson was a subject of the report.
The Legislative Affairs Agency last month denied The Associated Press’ request for video of the incident, citing policy that classifies surveillance material as confidential and not releasable to the public except as required by subpoena or another court order.
Edgmon, in a statement Thursday, said Wilson crossed a line “by using a press conference to chastise individuals who came forward as witnesses to an alleged incident of harassment.”
The Dillingham Democrat said he thinks that violates the Legislature’s harassment policy and warrants investigation by the Senate.
Edgmon also responded to Wilson’s criticism of his handling of the matter, saying he was torn between pursuing it through the Legislative Council and respecting the wishes of the aide that the matter be kept private “and not politicized.”
Last month, the Legislative Council, composed of House and Senate members, emerged from an extended executive session to approve giving the Legislative Affairs Agency’s human resources manager access to video recordings for an “internal investigation.”
It did not specify what the investigation was about. The vote authorizing that was followed by another allowing Wilson “access to materials” made confidential by the council’s records policy and to have a lawyer present if he wished.