HAD A CHANCE TO MAKE WRONG RIGHT, BUT DIDN’T
All heck broke out on the House floor today, after Rep. Ben Carpenter moved a “Sense of the House” vote to condemn the actions of legislators who trashed the reputations of citizen volunteers last week.
But Speaker Bryce Edgmon, leader of the Democrat-led House majority, would not allow the item to be heard or voted on, and attempted to bury it in the Community and Regional Affairs Committee without discussion.
The Sense of the House read:
“That on April 17, 2019, during Joint Legislative Session confirmation proceedings, unsubstantiated accusations made by certain members of the House defamed the personal character of several volunteer nominees on the floor of the House of Representatives. The members’ actions deprived Alaskans of due process and any opportunity to offer a defense of their character and were an abuse of the privilege of legislative immunity. Therefore, these members’ actions are hereby condemned as having undermined the dignity of the Legislature and resulted in a breach of trust with the people of the State of Alaska that must be restored.
Carpenter objected to the paragraph being sent to committee, saying that a Sense of the House is a formal determination of how the entire body feels through a freestanding simple yes or no vote.
Edgmon was having none of it.
“I’m going to allow one more comment on this, so you choose, Mr. Minority Leader,” Edgmon said to Rep. Lance Pruitt.
But no further comments were allowed by Edgmon. After a lengthy at-ease while Carpenter argued his case to Edgmon, House Majority Leader Steve Thompson, a Fairbanks Republican, moved to adjourn.
The Democrat-led majority, with the eight Republicans in it, voted for the abrupt adjournment, leaving the Sense of the House in committee a led by the hardest-left Democrat, Juneau Rep. Sara Hannan.
The House meltdown came over a week after Rep. Ivy Spohnholz accused a citizen volunteer, Karl Johnstone, of sexual harassment. Her claims came from anonymous “more than two women” and were delivered moments before the vote on Johnstone’s confirmation to the Board of Fisheries, denying the retired judge any ability to defend himself.
Spohnholz is in a strong position to prevail in her behavior because eight Republicans joined the Democrat-led House majority earlier this year and all of them stuck with her today.
In 2017, Spohnholz led a move to censure Republican David Eastman, and it was approved by a vote of 24-14 by the Democrat-led House. The censure motion was a response to comments from Rep. Eastman claiming that some women in rural areas get pregnant so they can get a free trip to an urban center for an abortion and whatever other business they want to take care of. Edgmon allowed that vote to proceed, unlike today, when he would not allow a similar courtesy to the Republican minority.
It’s possible that Carpenter or others in the Republican minority will now move to formally censure Spohnholz, since Carpenter’s effort to get a Sense of the House has been foiled.
That will again put the Republican turncoats on record supporting Rep. Spohnholz, whose actions were so serious that they even elicited a letter from the governor to Johnstone, apologizing about his constitutional rights being violated by Spohnholz and her allies in the Legislature.