DOES NOT APOLOGIZE FOR IGNORING STAFF PLEAS
The chair of the Alaska Democratic Party sent a letter to fellow Democrats on Friday to articulate a standard for conduct for those working with the party: Training on sexual harassment awareness will now be mandatory.
The letter from Casey Steinau follows a complaint lodged by a former staff member of the Alaska Democratic Party, who says she was forced to work alongside a man who had sexually assaulted her. The woman, who was subsequently a legislative aide for Democrat Rep. Scott Kawasaki (but who has since left), had complained to party management, including former executive director Kay Brown, asking that the man be removed, but was brushed off. The accused man was working on the Adam Wool for House campaign and his name has not been made public.
Steinau’s letter comes from a hastily called meeting of party leadership, and outlines the code of conduct, but neither acknowledges that misconduct has taken place, nor apologizes for the party’s handling of the matter that was made public during a “Truth and Reconciliation” meeting on Thursday night at the Anchorage IBEW hall. Steinau does not address the actions of the former executive director, who is the now chair of Alaska Ascends, a group that is offering campaign classes to Democrat-registered women who are interested in seeking higher office.
Steinau’s letter in full:
“I am writing today to share with you the Code of Conduct that was approved by our executive committee earlier this week. We’re pleased to put forth this document for our party and are committed to encouraging maximum participation while organizing in a safe, positive, and respectful manner.
“Community members, volunteers and professionals from all over Alaska fulfill many roles within our communities. In order to promote a truly representative Democratic Party open to all who support our principles, we wanted to put forth some guidelines that may be used in any physical or virtual location for members when gathering or conducting Party business. Responsibility falls on each of us to advocate for a safe, positive, and productive experience when participating in the democratic process and elsewhere.
“Our Code of Conduct focuses on three responsibility areas, including: Responsibility for Open Communication and Positive Collaboration, Responsibility for Creating a Culture of Respect, Inclusion, and Equity, and Responsibility to Ensure One’s Own Safety and Create a Safe Environment for Others. You can find the document on our website as well as other helpful information about your party.
“Furthermore, all candidates participating in the 2018 coordinated campaign will be required to complete an online sexual harassment awareness course. We look forward to supporting progressive candidates that are committed to upholding our zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment. We believe this is an important step in setting clear expectations. Our party will continue to examine and revise all policies to ensure our staff, volunteers, candidates, and activists are treated with mutual respect.
We look forward to being in touch soon. As always, thank you for your support.
(Signed Casey Steinau)
Alaska Democratic Party runs a coordinated campaign office that offers campaign services to Democrats at a reasonable fee. During an election cycle, candidates can rent space, get help with walking lists, design, mailing and support services, which allows candidates to utilize scarce campaign resources more effectively. This also brings together different volunteers and campaign workers who may have to work in close quarters.
The party currently has a staff of eight, according to its website. The Alaska Republican Party has no staff.