Report: Sen. Wilson retaliated against House staff employee
Alaska State Sen. David Wilson committed a “very serious case of retaliation” against a House staff employee who was part of a sexual harassment investigation, according to a Legislative agency report released Wednesday morning.
The investigation – the second against Wilson – stemmed from a Dec. 7 news conference Wilson (R-Wasilla) held speaking out against the allegations.
The first investigation involved a female staffer who had been trying to keep Wilson from listening in on a closed-door meeting among House members. When she told Wilson to leave, witnesses say he refused and tried to record the meeting through the door – and at one point placed the phone between the staffer’s legs and under her skirt.
Human Resources Manager Skiff Lobaugh concluded in a memo that two Wilson statements reiterated during the news conference constituted retaliation against the first investigation.
Lobaugh first wrote how Wilson several times insisted that House Speaker Bryce Edgmon step down from his leadership post. Changes in leadership positions can have a wide-ranging effect on staff, be it employment or pay, Lobaugh noted.
Lobaugh wrote, “Even without any major changes in leadership, this action may ultimately result in a more subtle and indirect adverse reduction in the responsibilities of the [employee].”
Lobaugh also noted how Wilson repeatedly stated the incident investigated never happened.
Not true, according to Lobaugh.
“While the incident did not fit the definition of hostile work environment sexual harassment, the event did occur and it was an uncomfortable, if not inappropriate, interaction between Senator Wilson and [the employee]," Lobaugh wrote.
“By publicly claiming to the media that the incident did not happen, he has undermined the underlying investigation and any further investigations,” he continued.
Lobaugh also wrote how Wilson’s public comments could discourage others from coming forward with a complaint, fearing it could be “so publicly dismissed.”
Lobaugh concluded, “In my view, this is a very serious case of retaliation.”
The Senate Rules Committee released Lobaugh’s findings in a late Wednesday morning hearing.
Senate President Pete Kelly said Wilson received the following reprimand:
- Three months probation to “demonstrate that he understands the human resources policies and decorum expectations of the Alaska Senate and the entire Legislature
- Training on what constitutes retaliation
- Travel restrictions
- Writing a letter taking responsibility to the employee involved
Kelly added there would be no further comment based on advice from the Legislature’s attorneys.
The employee subject to Wilson’s retaliation provided KTVA a copy of the letter, written Dec. 28, 2017.
“I would like to take accountability in my actions that may have put you in a stressful no-win predicament. It was not my intent to have an uncomfortable situation occur as reported.
“I felt that this situation could have been resolved a lot sooner with proper mediation. I hope in the future we can work in a positive respectful manner to serve the people of our great state.”
Wilson would not comment on the findings.
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