Scandal: Edwardson knew about Parish's sexual harassment problem - Must Read Alaska
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Scandal: Edwardson knew about Parish’s sexual harassment problem

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DID NOT REPORT IT, BUT FILED FOR PARISH’S SEAT INSTEAD

Rob Edwardson, who filed for the House District 34 seat occupied by Juneau’s Rep. Justin Parish, knew Parish was a harasser of women.

The harassment of a woman who was a Juneau-based reporter had gone on for months, and was well-known in political circles in Juneau. House leadership knew. The media knew. Even Bruce Botelho, the Democrat who had brought Parish to the House by smearing the name of Rep. Cathy Munoz, knew.

But Edwardson, the loyal aide to Parish, never reported it. And no one else did either.

Instead, Edwardson took a job with Parish and worked for him for the past 18 months. He also ran for the Juneau Assembly and won.

He took required sexual harassment training that Rules Chair Gabrielle LeDoux had demanded of all staff and House members, and still kept his head down, not willing to report on his boss.

Rep. Justin Parish speaks to a committee, flanked by his aide, Rob Edwardson, right. Parish is now accused of harassing a Juneau woman for well over 18 months. Edwardson has worked for Parish during the entire time of the alleged harassment and never reported it.

Then, in what appears to be an orchestrated effort, Edwardson today filed for Parish’s seat when it became clear that Parish could not run again.

The gig was up when the Juneau Empire, which had known about the story for months, published the sordid tale a few hours after Parish announced he wasn’t running.

SPEAKER BRYCE EDGMON KNEW, TOO

And yet another person in power knew about Justin Parish’s proclivities: Speaker Bryce Edgmon.

Edgmon has had two other members of the Democrat majority resign in disgrace this year: Rep. Dean Westlake was forced to resign in January after being accused of harassing women. Rep. Zach Fansler was forced to resign in February after being accused of striking a woman on the face after a night of drinking.

Speaker Edgmon ultimately requested both their resignations, but did so belatedly, reluctantly and with deep compliments for his perpetrating colleagues.

It wasn’t until Dec. 8, 2017 that Edgmon called on Westlake to resign, even though the accusations against him were nearly a year old. 

Dean Westlake, with Gov. Bill Walker and Sen. Tom Begich before the State of the State address in 2016.

The only reason Edgmon finally took action on Westlake is that one of the women blew the story up on a Facebook Livestream, and hundreds heard her story.

“We take very seriously our obligation to ensure everyone who works in the Capitol feels safe and respected. Members of the Alaska House Majority Coalition Leadership understand that it is difficult for victims to speak out, especially against elected officials in a position of power and commend anyone who has been mistreated for coming forward; they are owed justice and respect. In light of recent reports of inappropriate behavior related to his position in the Legislature, House Leadership believes Representative Dean Westlake should resign from the office his constituents sent him to Juneau to represent. This is an extremely difficult decision to make, but it is a necessary decision.” – Speaker Bryce Edgmon, Dec. 8, 2017.

Westlake was replaced through the appointment process by John Lincoln of Kotzebue.

But it got worse for Edgmon. His new freshman Democrats were bad boys to the bone.

In January, the hard-drinking Rep. Fansler was the subject of a police complaint. It was impossible to cover it up. Again, Edgmon spoke glowingly of his colleague Fansler, even while asking him to resign:

“Calling for Rep. Fansler’s resignation was the right thing to do given the severity of his alleged actions, but that does not mean that it was an easy thing to do because Zach was a committed and effective legislator for the people of House District 38. I also considered him a valuable member of our Coalition,” said Speaker Edgmon in February. “The circumstances that warranted Rep. Fansler’s resignation were unfortunate and show the problems in our state with domestic violence and alcohol abuse. I want to thank Rep. Fansler for his service. I also want to thank all of the victims who have braved so much in coming forward. We can all take heart in their bravery.”

Rep. Fansler represented District 38. He was replaced through the appointment process by Tiffany Zulkolsky, a former aide to former Sen. Mark Begich.

REP. CHRIS TUCK KNEW TOO

And yet, Parish was still a problem. The leadership of the Democrat-led House majority, including majority leader Chris Tuck of Anchorage, also has known about Rep. Parish’s sexual harassment habits and yet has done nothing.

In spite of that knowledge, when Fansler resigned just weeks ago Tuck had the temerity to say, “Our Coalition has shown a steadfast resolve to hold our members to the highest standards of conduct because that’s what the people of Alaska expect from their elected representatives. While Representative Fansler was well liked and respected, his actions were counter to our shared values. We felt the decisive action of calling for his resignation had to be taken to maintain the public trust. We are all accountable to the people of Alaska, and I want to thank Rep. Fansler for stepping up and being accountable to the people of his district.”

Since then, the Democratic coalition required sexual harassment training of all of its members and staff. The training includes the guidance that all members and staff are required to report incidences of harassment. That means Parish, Edwardson and the entire House leadership have had the training and signed a document acknowledging their responsibility to report.

The question of the hour in Juneau is: The other two Democrats accused of sexual improprieties had to resign in disgrace. What’s so special about Justin Parish? Why isn’t Bryce Edgmon calling for his resignation? What exactly was so much worse about what Dean Westlake did than what Parish did?

 

Indeed, how many Juneau Democrats were aware of Justin Parish’s problems and yet hid them for a year or more? The answer is plenty.

Hayes Research, a Democratic polling firm, conducted a poll in recent weeks asking Juneau voters if they’d vote for Rob Edwardson or Jerry Nankervis for the House District 34 seat.

Hayes would not have done that poll had the Democrats not known they were facing yet another crisis with their men folk.

As Justin Parish wrote in the Juneau Empire on Aug. 28, 2016: “Sadly, it has come to light this week that the Legislature is even more broken than many of us had imagined. Our Republican Representative, Cathy Muñoz, has demonstrated where her values are. Her misplaced priorities and demonstrably poor judgment are emblematic of the failure of leadership in the Legislature.”

One Juneau pundit said that the words “Cathy Munoz” need to be replaced with “Justin Parish,” which would make the statement accurate.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • When House Speaker Pete Kott forgot to list a loan on a pickup truck and a lobbyist bought a girl scout dress for Vic Kohring’s then recently adopted Russian daughter it was called corruption. What do we call the election fraud that brought us Westlake, the cover-up by the current House Speaker of these sexual abuses by Westlake, Fansler and Parish, and the sexual assault that has taken place? This time there is complicity in the top executive as well; what do we say now?

    • What do we call it? I call it business as usual for Democrats, the party of hypocrisy.

  • Parish, Fansler and Westlake – the 3 perverts of the apocalypse.

  • Well, lets remember what our President Bill Clinton, a hero of the Democrat Party, did with the women around him. And, that Hillary, supposedly the heroine of the Democrat Party, was his strongest supporter. Oddly, Bubba had no problem keeping his hands off of Hillary.

    It seems that Democrats, are true believers in the axiom “do as I say, not as I do,” in their support of women.

    • You seem to have described Don Trump, in reverse here. Do as I do, not as I say! That is until the courts weigh in.

      • It would be much easier to take some of these things seriously if ol’ Bill’s mug didn’t pop up daily in his shameless promotion of one thing or another. His indiscretions – while in office even- weren’t and still aren’t given credence universally. So it is no surprise that the problems continue. What a shame!

        • So……………..we can attribute Don Trump’s indiscretions to ol’ Bill’s mug? That would be a shame!

  • What does Bruce Botelho know and when did he know it?

  • A lot of finger pointing and name calling going on I think. Although I am in no way condoning what’s going on, I would like to suggest that it more stems from a systemic and cultural resignation to accept these types of behaviors. In the span of a lifetime our world has changed at light-speed. What would never have been discussed openly 40 years ago, and the technologies we are availed of open our worlds to speculation. To use an old adage: Keep your hands in your pockets and your pecker in your pants. Will the next group through the legislature do any better?

  • http://akhouse.org/?p=5748

    There was really never any there, there. This was just a political hit-piece wanting to cause grief for Rob Edwardson, since Parish has been neutered.

  • Edgmon’s statement is at times laughable and at others deeply troubling.

    He states, “My conversations with the media outlet’s attorney were verbal in nature, and no documents were delivered to my office or the LAA HR Department. The media outlet investigated the complaint with full cooperation from the Alaska Legislature.”

    And yet the Juneau Empire reports, “Her complaint, according to records provided to the Empire, was delivered to the office of the Speaker of the House, Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham.”

    This needs to be clarified. I tend to trust the Empire over a fox guarding his hen house.

    If Edgmon is simply trying to sweep this under the carpet, it’s bad, but if he is lying, then he really should step down.

    The other question is if he did receive the detailed complaint, why did Edgmon leave it up to the media outlet to investigate?

    It details behavior over the course of a year and a half, which in my mind borders on stalking. And Parish was a member of the legislature.

    Edgmon’s handling of this matter is truly troubling.

    • Well Allan, reading comprehension doesn’t seem to be your long suit, me thinks. You refer to a “detailed complaint” given to Edgmon yet your own quoting of the Empire is: “Her complaint, according to records provided to the Empire, was delivered to the office of the Speaker of the House, Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham.” That you appear troubled is not surprising in that you don’t seem to realize that said “complaint” may have been delivered verbally.
      And what’s laughable is your idea that this “in my mind borders on stalking.”
      Keep it up as we all are enjoying a good laugh.

  • Bill, I seriously question your intelligence. Go back and look at the original Empire article.

    “The document outlines a year and a half of unwanted public encounters…. the encounters, documented in depth by the woman, included unwanted attention, flirting, phone calls and touching on the arms and torso…”

    Her complaint, which was a DOCUMENT My friend, was delivered to Edgmon.

    It’s my understanding that “document” denotes a written complaint and not oral as Edgmon’s attempted coverup would suggest.

    Bill, you must have a great reading comprehension to reimagine a document as a verbal conversation.

    You are brilliant my friend. Lol.

    • “Her complaint, according to records provided to the Empire, was delivered to the office of the Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham.”
      Well Allan, you can see the Empire quote that says nothing about “DOCUMENT.”
      You’ve made your own assumption that the complaint “delivered to Edgmon” was a document but you’ll have to do some more digging (see below), IMO.
      Further, Edgmon says in his statement that the complaint was verbal. Keep on digging.
      When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. Heheh!
      Have you ever heard of a “strawman” Allan?? That’s when you have a problem with some issue, that you can’t solve, so you invent something similar that is solvable. You’ve created your own “strawman” IMO.

  • Bill,

    Read the article. Your intelligence or lack thereof is really insulting.

    The first paragraph mentions the complaint.

    The second paragraph describes and qualifies that complaint as a document, which describes in depth the prolonged harassment. Even after the reporter repeatedly said no.

    And then, the third paragraph states that the complaint was delivered to Edgmon’s office.

    It’s not rocket science, Bill.

    A fifth grade level of reading comprehension would understand the meaning here, regardless of how to try to spin it.

    Better luck next time. Lol.

  • I’m unsure if your reading comprehension issue is with James Brooks, or with Speaker Edgmon but it is your problem. If you are calling one of them a lier then it might be pertinent to call that one out rather than just harp on here about what it is you think has been said/done.
    Intelligence really doesn’t have much to do with reading comprehension but there are rules to follow with English language and you have failed and are trying to spin something where there is nothing IMO.
    Edgmon has stated flatly that the complaint was delivered to his office and him, verbally. Is that difficult to understand??? And Brooks is referring to two different things, here. He makes mention that Empire received a copy of complaint (which would be a copy of a document) but he also mentions that “her complaint, according to records provided to the Empire, was delivered to the office of the Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham.” Now “complaint” can mean in any form IMO, and since Edgmon has specifically said “my conversations with the media outlet’s attorney were verbal in nature, and no documents were delivered to my office or the LAA HR Department,” it doesn’t take rocket science to know this complaint was “NOT” in the form of a document.
    You can go on insisting that there is some lying going on here but you have nothing to back up your position IMO. No clarification is necessary other than it would be nice to hear you say you made a “blunder” here. Otherwise, you’ll have to take it up with Brooks or Edgmon as I’m sure they can spell it out for you.

  • Keep spinning Bill.

    And let me know when you graduate to the sixth grade.

    • OK Allan, let me know when you decide to confront either Edgmon or Brooks to determine which of them is the liar. I’ll not hold my breath!

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