DENIES AND CONDEMNS
House Speaker Bryce Edgmon today took Sen. David Wilson to task for going public with an allegation that Edgmon had said to a group of legislators that as far as he was concerned, Wilson could “burn and hang.”
Wilson was under attack in June because an allegation was made about an incident in the hallway in front of the House Speaker’s Chambers.
“I did not, at any point, express a desire to let Senator Wilson ‘hang and burn’, which he claims originated from a conversation he had with Senate leadership. I find that term highly offensive and derogatory and I would never say that. I don’t begrudge Senator Wilson for wanting to clear his name and reputation, but the way he chose to conduct himself today was unfortunate,” Edgmon said in a statement.
EDGMON CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION OF WILSON
Edgmon legitimized the original allegations made against Wilson by saying multiple witnesses saw him act inappropriately. Then he said Wilson was again inappropriate today:
“Senator Wilson crossed the line of appropriate behavior by using a press conference to chastise individuals who came forward as witnesses to an alleged incident of harassment. I believe this is a violation of the legislature’s harassment policy and warrants a serious investigation by the Senate,” said Speaker Edgmon.
“I feel compelled to set the record straight, I am constrained by confidentiality requirements regarding both personnel matters and discussions which take place during executive session. I cannot comment on the findings of the report, as it is not yet public, and this remains a confidential personnel matter. However, the statements about why I chose to allow this matter to rest this spring are unequivocally false. Executive sessions are confidential, and though Senator Wilson thought it appropriate to summarize my intentions during an executive session, I am not permitted to give a full explanation of context. I will say, it became apparent that I could not both pursue the matter through Legislative Council and respect the wishes of the staffer in question that the matter be kept private and not politicized,” said Speaker Edgmon.
EDGMON HASN’T ADDRESSED MISSING LETTER
Speaker Edgmon didn’t set the record straight about another festering matter. Rep. Dean Westlake has been accused of harassing a legislative aide, and she wrote a letter about the incidents to Edgmon and House Majority Leader Chris Tuck on March 13, at Tuck’s request.
The woman, Olivia, told Must Read Alaska she believes Tuck never delivered the letter to Edgmon in March. Edgmon has not addressed whether he knew of the letter or why Tuck chose to sit on it — if he did.
Although the incident now involves his own actions or inaction as the House leader, what he knew and when he knew it, or the chain of custody for the letter written by the legislative aide last March, Edgmon issued a statement yesterday declaring confidentiality and transparency going forward: “This is a confidential personnel issue and I am not able to comment on details of the incident or the complaint. The incident illustrates the need for concrete and clear reporting policies and mandatory sexual harassment training for every legislator and staff member. Unwanted sexual advances and other forms of harassment are unacceptable and hinder the work of the Alaska Legislature to do the people’s business. Any victim who comes forward must be respected and should know their concerns will be heard, investigated, and addressed with fairness and transparency. Our priority is to ensure a safe and respectful work environment where no one feels threatened. We strongly encourage anyone who has been subjected to sexual harassment, assault, or aggravation in or related to their place of work to come forward. We want them to feel confident that their personnel matters will remain confidential and private, and that the Legislature will listen and follow through.”
Edgmon referred the matter to a subcommittee.