House Speaker Bryce Edgmon says Sen. David Wilson “crossed the line of appropriate behavior” during a Thursday news conference that Wilson called to clear his name from sexual harassment allegations.
Wilson told reporters that an unreleased report, which he hasn’t personally seen, cleared him of wrongdoing related to an incident with a female legislative aide during the session, but he didn’t stop there.
He called for a prime-time apology from a female reporter, for House leadership to step down for comments they made and accused others of manipulating the situation for political gains. It should be noted that it took more than six months for the incident to become public, and when it became public it was not through the actions of the House or its membership, but through the reporting of the Alaska Landmine.
“Senator Wilson crossed the line of appropriate behavior by using a press conference to chastise individuals who came forward as witnesses to an alleged incident of harassment. I believe this is a violation of the legislature’s harassment policy and warrants a serious investigation by the Senate,” Edgmon said in a prepared statement.
Edgmon also addressed as much of Wilson’s press conference as he could. Here’s what he had to say on that front:
“I feel compelled to set the record straight, I am constrained by confidentiality requirements regarding both personnel matters and discussions which take place during executive session. I cannot comment on the findings of the report, as it is not yet public, and this remains a confidential personnel matter. However, the statements about why I chose to allow this matter to rest this spring are unequivocally false. Executive sessions are confidential, and though Senator Wilson thought it appropriate to summarize my intentions during an executive session, I am not permitted to give a full explanation of context. I will say, it became apparent that I could not both pursue the matter through Legislative Council and respect the wishes of the staffer in question that the matter be kept private and not politicized.”
Wilson also accused Edgmon and other house leadership of saying they hoped he would “hang and burn” with the allegations. Wilson claimed no first-hand knowledge of the comments, but said members of Senate leadership told him the House had used those words (Wilson has also not seen the report that apparently clears him of wrongdoing, but has had it reviewed to him by Senate leadership).
“I also feel the need to respond to a remark Senator Wilson attributed to me. I did not, at any point, express a desire to let Senator Wilson ‘hang and burn’, which he claims originated from a conversation he had with Senate leadership. I find that term highly offensive and derogatory and I would never say that. I don’t begrudge Senator Wilson for wanting to clear his name and reputation, but the way he chose to conduct himself today was unfortunate,” Edgmon said.