SPEAKER EDGMON ACCUSED OF SAYING SEN. WILSON COULD ‘BURN AND HANG’
Sen. David Wilson asked for a public apology from KTVA reporter Liz Raines today, saying the video of his interaction with a legislative aide exonerates him of the accusation Raines made that she saw him place a telephone-camera between the aide’s legs in June.
Wilson also called for House Speaker Bryce Edgmon and House Rules Chair Gabrielle LeDoux to step down from their leadership positions because they put politics above the truth.
Wilson held his first-ever press conference today. Wilson said that he was informed by those in a private meeting with Edgmon that Edgmon was not about to help Wilson, even after Edgmon learned what was on the video. He said he had made multiple attempts to meet with Edgmon but was rebuffed.
Other senators had tried to broker a meeting as well, without luck. Edgmon was stonewalling.
“We are not going to do anything, we are going to watch Sen. Wilson burn and hang,” Wilson reported that Edgmon said, according to the accounts that got back to him.
HUMAN/CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION?
If Edgmon actually said that, it could be a human rights violation due to its historic lynching and racist overtones. People have been fired from their jobs for similar statements in and out of the workplace. Wilson did not hear him say that directly, and has not asked Edgmon about the statement because Edgmon has refused to meet with him.
Must Read Alaska checked with Google on the terms “burn hang black” and came up with pages of information about lynching.
During his first year in office, Wilson, the Republican senator from Wasilla, has often avoided the media, but today he faced a group of reporters and called for higher standards from the media.
“We rely on journalists to report the news with factual information and with integrity,” he said. He said that instead gossip and innuendo were being reported as facts.
“It didn’t happen,” he said of the rumors and reports of the incident that took place last June. Wilson said that the tape shows the phone was off and never was below his own waist during the encounter he had with her in the hallway in front of the Speaker’s chambers during special session in June.
He said he was holding a bundle of papers and had been talking with a cameraman about good places to eat in Juneau, when the aide to Speaker Bryce Edgmon told him to leave the area, because the House majority caucus was behind the closed doors nearby, discussing private matters.
Wilson said that at the time he felt he had a right to stand in the hallway like everyone else there.
“I have worked hard. I was being told I don’t belong in a place. I felt I had a right to be in a place. I was questioning why I was being asked to move. Why I was being asked to move? Why don’t I belong in the hallway?” – Sen. David Wilson
Wilson said today that he has worked hard for the good of others all of his life, starting at age 14 when he worked as a “candy stripe” volunteer in a hospital.
“I’ve tried to live an honest life,” he said. But the facts about him were manipulated for political purposes by House leadership, he said, and “I cannot, and will not sit quietly by without saying something.”
Wilson said Senate President Pete Kelly has reviewed the report completed by the Legislative Affairs human resources director Skiff Lobaugh, and that Kelly had gone over the report with Wilson, although Wilson does not have a copy of it. He said it showed the allegations made against him by Raines and by Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux are false.
LeDoux stated to the media as fact that Sen. Wilson had, indeed, sexually harassed the aide. LeDoux has not retracted her statement.
“I am deeply ashamed of the Speaker of House and the Rules chair for continuing these allegations,” Wilson said. “Edgmon has failed in his leadership and allowed LeDoux to make false accusations about me. It is quite disturbing that the House leadership allows these accusations to be made without evidence. These allegations for political gain are unethical.”
When asked by a KTVA reporter if he was calling the legislative aide a liar, Wilson said no — the aide herself had never made an allegation on the record or filed a complaint.
“There were five eye witnesses,” Wilson said. “I am innocent and I want to be able to prove my innocence.”
To clear his name, Wilson has asked Sen. President Pete Kelly to release the Legislative Affairs report to the public, and is also asking the Legislative Council to release the video.
“The report clears me of any wrongdoing of any sexual harassment and goes in to very great detail,” he said. “I can guarantee you that the video shows my phone is off and it never leaves the waist side of my body. I never bent down, it does not go to the door and it does not go between anyone’s legs.”
“It’s my life and I am responsible for my actions and my life,” he said. “When allegations are being peddled against me, I have to be responsible and respond to those allegation. I cannot wait for someone else to step forward and do the right thing.”
“The time is always right to do the right thing,” he said, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King.