Rep. Tammie Wilson said today that the House Majority was sweeping sexual harassment complaints under the rug.
She thanked the women of the Republican House minority for wearing black in solidarity with the victims of sexual harassment.
In late 2017, reports of sexual harassment surfaced that led to the eventual resignation of Rep. Dean Westlake. The harassment by Westlake had gone on for months.
Westlake had been chosen by the Alaska Democratic Party to challenge Rep. Ben Nageak in 2016, and Westlake won District 40 against the Nageak with the help of Outside money and Anchorage resources. The man who ran the campaign for Westlake, John-Henry Heckendorn, is now the right-hand man to Gov. Bill Walker.
“I read that same report that we just heard about [from Rep. Matt Claman] and I must have taken it quite differently. Or else I got a different report,” she said.
“We didn’t take it seriously, not in my mind, she said, refuting Claman’s earlier remarks that everything was done properly in response to an allegation made nearly a year ago.
“That allegation was made in March,” Wilson said of the complaint made by former aide Olivia Garrett against Westlake, who was forced by his fellow Democrats to resign.
“I saw nothing in that report that said there was any investigation in March. In fact, what was concerning is a representative helped write that [complaint letter]. And from my understanding — and this is from the papers that anyone can read — they were the ones who encouraged the victim to keep it confidential, to have it handled in the Legislature,” Wilson said.
“I’m standing up because — April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December — before something else was done.
“We revictimized. As a body we are held accountable because we made a young lady go out and have to retell her story. And I’m assuming that the reason she did that, Mr. Speaker, is that it fell on deaf ears. Because someone doesn’t make that decision easily.”
Wilson said she wrote a letter asking for a third-party investigation.
“I don’t think we should be investigating ourselves. And that’s exactly what’s happened. I saw nothing in the paperwork that was released yesterday that said in March when the allegation came forward that there was any investigation at all.
“There’s this huge span of time that nobody can account for.”
Rep. Mark Neuman asked for an outside investigation as well, because of the seriousness of the situation.
Rep. Chris Tuck, the House Majority Leader and man initially responsible for the lack of action against Westlake, spoke on the topic and said the harassment victim never asked for an investigation.
However, the actions the victim described constitute a crime that was never reported to authorities by Tuck or House Speaker Bryce Edgmon.