Rep. Colleen Sullivan-Leonard of Wasilla is asking for a formal and independent investigation of all harassment claims in the Legislature. In a letter to Rep. Sam Kito III, the Juneau-based Democratic chair of the Legislative Council, Sullivan-Leonard says it’s evident the House Majority is not capable of taking appropriate action:
“It has become clear that the Alaska House Majority Coalition and its Leaders have ignored or not properly processed sexual harassment reports to bring protection and ultimate relief to the victim,” she said in a statement. “Although we may be encouraged to have Legislative Council look at updating policies and procedures now, this provides very little relief for those that filed claims of harassment prior to this. No more hiding behind poor policy or processes that have not provided swift and thorough relief for the victim. Those in authority should be held accountable for their lack of action to protect those that have been harassed and not felt safe or protected in the workplace. It’s time for an external investigation.
“Therefore, I ask for a formal, independent investigation by an external legal firm with personnel expertise to look at complaints from January 1, 2017 to December 11, 2017 to see if proper protocol was followed and for those that ignored it, to be held accountable. I ask for Legislative Council to take immediate action on this matter.
“This approach takes away the stigma from employees who may believe that they will not get a fair and impartial review from those in political power who report to HR and HR in turn reports back to the person in political power. It is an unfair position for the employee and legislator to be in,” Sullivan-Leonard wrote.
HOUSE DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY TAKES ACTION — REMOVES WESTLAKE FROM GROUP PHOTO
House Democrats told Westlake to hit the road. They quickly changed their Facebook cover photo to a pic that excludes him. Westlake told KTVA he will hold a press conference on Monday.
One of the allegations against Westlake involves a dirty note about an aide that he wrote last spring and passed to another legislator. That legislator is pictured above.
Casey Steinau, the chair of the Alaska Democratic Party, said Rep. Dean Westlake must quit, (ignoring the even-worse harassment record of her own Alaska Democratic Party Executive Director, Jay Parmley.)
Senate Democrats were not to be outdone. They issued a statement applauding the House Democrats’ decisive leadership, while ignoring the sexual impropriety record of one of their own members with various aides over the years.
The Senate Democrats also used the opportunity double down on Sen. David Wilson, a Republican and the only African-American in the Senate (or House):
“Senate leadership should follow in the courageous footsteps of the House, and hold its members accountable. It was with terrible disappointment that we watched yesterday as Senator Wilson blamed everyone but himself for his actions, equivocated, evaded, and called the multiple eyewitnesses to his latest incident of harassment liars, including a respected journalist and the victim herself.”
Except for one thing: There is no victim. No report has been filed in the incident referred to by the Senate Democrats.
Speaker Bryce Edgmon did not file a report about the dispute between his legislative aide and Sen. David Wilson, which happened in June when Edgmon’s aide decided to tell Sen. Wilson to vacate a public hallway, and he had the nerve to talk back to her.
With the negligence of Majority Leader Rep. Chris Tuck and Speaker Bryce Edgmon, how can any staff member feel safe in the halls of the Capitol?
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Charisse Millett has called for policy and due process for Westlake or whomever else is accused of impropriety. Millett says everyone is entitled to be heard — victims but also the accused. She is not satisfied that the process adequately protects victims and she may suggest remedies.
The Republican Party of Alaska has not asked for Westlake’s resignation, but for due process.
“The real problem is that a woman complained in March, and the Democratic leadership has done nothing about it. It’s inexcusable. How many other people have suffered because nothing was done?” said Tuckerman Babcock, chairman of the Alaska Republican Party.