The Latest: Westlake apologizes if he caused discomfort
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Latest on the first day of the Alaska legislative session (all times local):
An Alaska lawmaker who resigned after being accused of inappropriate behavior toward female aides says he’s sorry if any of his actions or words made anyone uncomfortable.
Former state Rep. Dean Westlake says he made some comments he assumed would be taken as compliments. He said he meant them as such. He says he doesn’t think he inappropriately touched anyone.
The House Rules Committee released an investigation into allegations against Westlake.
The report from legislative human resources manager Skiff Lobaugh concluded that the cumulative effect of Westlake’s actions and words created a hostile work environment.
Lobaugh said two people will see events differently and it is in the eyes of the complainant that the investigation must view events.
Westlake said by text he is looking at whether he can appeal.
The Alaska Legislature has begun its new session, with big decisions ahead on state spending and tackling a multibillion-dollar budget deficit.
The House and Senate each got underway Tuesday afternoon. Each chamber is also down one member.
Democratic Rep. Dean Westlake resigned his seat last month after being accused of inappropriate behavior by female aides. Republican Sen. Mike Dunleavy resigned from his seat Monday to focus on running for governor.
Work continues on rewriting the Legislature’s policy on sexual and other workplace harassment. Legislators this year will be required to attend training on sexual harassment prevention or risk facing a potential ethics complaint.
The Alaska Legislature’s human resources manager says House leaders followed policies in responding to allegations of inappropriate behavior by former state Rep. Dean Westlake.
Skiff Lobaugh addressed the House Rules Committee late Monday, when the committee approved the release of Lobaugh’s investigation into allegations of unwanted touching or comments by Westlake from three women.
Lobaugh concluded that the cumulative effect of Westlake’s actions and comments created a hostile work environment. Westlake, a freshman Democrat, resigned from his seat last month.
In response to questioning, Lobaugh said House Speaker Bryce Edgmon and House Majority Leader Chris Tuck followed existing policy on sexual and other workplace harassment.
Critics of the policy say it leaves room for interpretation. A working group has been created to recommend changes to the policy.