Bethel women's coalition calls on Fansler to reflect on alleged violence
The Executive Director of Tundra Women's coalition in Bethel released a statement Monday condemning Rep. Zach Fansler's alleged assault of a woman earlier this month. Fansler was a volunteer with the organization prior to taking office.
"TWC is terribly disappointed to hear these allegations about someone who both worked at and supported TWC and represented our region as an elected official. We do not condone what Representative Fansler is alleged to have done, and are thankful that the individual who disclosed that she was harmed felt comfortable coming forward," Eileen Arnold wrote.
On Monday, Fansler’s legislative ally, Rep. Jason Grenn, repeated the House Speaker’s call for his resignation. The west Anchorage Independent, who serves in the House Majority with Fansler, took to social media to condemn Fansler’s alleged actions, adding that Fansler has broken trust with his community.
According to a report by the Juneau Empire, Fansler attacked a woman in Juneau, with whom he'd had a prior romantic relationship. Fansler is alleged to have pulled her hair and struck her twice, rupturing her eardrum, following a night of drinking in the capital city.
In a text message exchange published by the Empire, Fansler later apologized for the incident, chalking it up to a sexual kink.
"I'm sorry I ventured into my kink bdsm so early with you," Fansler wrote.
On Saturday, the House Speaker and the Alaska Democratic Party called for Fansler's resignation, but Fansler's lawyer said he has no plans to resign -- saying that the text messages were taken out of context.
Now, the Tundra Women's Coalition appears to echo the call.
"We hope that Rep. Fansler, who has worked for and supported our programs and has been a role model for many, finds his 'place of turning around'”, Arnold wrote. "We know he has done a lot of good in representing our region, but the behaviors described by the person he harmed indicate that he needs to reflect on what brought him to this point and take appropriate actions to correct these behaviors and ensure no one else ever experiences such harm."
Monday evening, KTOO reported that Anchorage Democratic Rep. Ivy Spohnholz said Fansler "can’t adequately represent his constituents at this point."
“I join House majority coalition leadership in calling for Representative Fansler’s resignation,” she told KTOO. “I think that as leaders, we are called to a higher standard — the highest standard – of behavior, ethical and moral.”
The House Majority caucus met for two hours early-Monday evening. House Speaker Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham) said the group’s position hasn’t changed since issuing a call Saturday for Fansler’s resignation.
Edgmon would say if there are plans to expel Fansler.
“We made it very clear that we wish he step forward and resign,” Edgmon said. “At this point, Monday evening, we have not heard a response, so we are continuing to discuss the situation and await a response from Rep. Fansler.”
Fansler serves as co-chair of the House Community & Regional Affairs Committee and vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee while serving on a handful of other panels.
Edgmon said there has been no decisions made on whether he gets stripped of his committee posts.
“Again, once we hear from Rep. Fansler and his intentions, that will allow us the ability to move forward with any additional steps the caucus believes it needs to take,” he said.
Steve Quinn contributed to this report.
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