House calls for action on alleged harassment by Sen. David Wilson
Leadership in the Alaska House is calling on the Senate to take action after an accusation of sexual harassment by one of its members, Mat-Su Valley Sen. David Wilson (R-Wasilla).
On Thursday, Senate President Pete Kelly showed reporters a letter he and four other senators sent to legal and HR departments about creating new policies to deal with harassment in the legislature.
Without mentioning specifics, Kelly said the move is in response to national developments and some incidents in the capitol. But Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, Chair of the House Rules Committee, says Kelly’s letter is tied to something that happened back in June, involving Wilson.
"The Senate needs to figure out what to do with this guy," said LeDoux, who appeared visibly frustrated by the Senate's joint letter.
"It’s one thing to write letters about this, but right now, the Senate is protecting exactly a person who did that, and I am referring to Sen. David Wilson, you know, the guy who hit the reporter, who is alleged to have stuck a telephone between a staffer’s legs," LeDoux said.
Wilson’s slap of Alaska Dispatch News reporter Nat Herz was reported by Herz himself.
The latest accusation against Wilson stems from an encounter with a female staffer, who tried to block Wilson from listening in on a closed-door meeting between House members. When she told Wilson to leave, he refused and tried to use his phone to record through the door — and at one point, witnesses say, he placed the phone between her legs, and under her skirt.
Wilson’s action was witnessed by at least two people — one of them was reporter James Brooks from the Juneau Empire.
"What I saw was David Wilson, Sen. Wilson, as I remember it, approaching the door and appearing to listen in or act like he was listening in. I couldn’t hear any conversations or I don’t remember them. At that point, a staffer came up and physically stood in front of the door and blocked him from coming up. At that point, he took his cell phone and appeared to press it against the door between the staffer’s legs," Brooks recalled. "It didn’t seem like there was anything malicious in it. It came and went pretty quickly."
The staffer told the House Speaker what happened.
Now, a spokesperson for the Alaska Senate says the matter was not overlooked, but that actions taken are subject to strict legal personnel privacy rules.
"It becomes glaring that we don’t have the procedures in place when something happens, and you deal with it the best that you can," Kelly said in an interview about the Senate's move to strengthen policies against harassment Thursday. "I just want to make sure that there’s no mistake about what our procedures are and that the Senate won’t tolerate this, and I’m sure the House will join us in this as well."
Wilson declined to comment as part of this story.
LeDoux says the House is working on coming up with its own set of rules around harassment. Both legislative bodies seem to agree that when it comes to harassment in the capitol, some things need to change.
To KTVA's knowledge, there has not been a written report filed against Sen. Wilson. The alleged victim, in this case, declined to be interviewed and asked that KTVA not use her name.
Editor's note: the author of this story was a witness to Sen. Wilson's encounter with the House's female staff member. The reporter has informed House Speaker, Bryce Edgmon and Senate President, Pete Kelly, of what she saw.