Rep. Zach Fansler, the legislator accused of assaulting a woman and rupturing her eardrum, has not yet responded to House Speaker Bryce Edgmon’s call for his resignation, leaving the Legislature in a holding pattern before deciding what to do next.
Edgmon addressed the situation surrounding Fansler, which broke on Saturday through reporting by the Juneau Empire, during the House Majority Coalition’s weekly availability with reporters. Edgmon called for Fansler’s resignation on Saturday, just as the allegations became public.
Fansler’s attorney has told reporters that Fansler won’t resign and plans to fight any charges in court, but Edgmon said he hasn’t heard any response to the calls for resignation.
“As of today, Tuesday morning, we have not got a response from Rep. Fansler, but we respect the fact that it’s a serious decision for him, and it’s a decision that may take him some time to make,” Edgmon said.
Criminal charges have yet to been filed against Fansler, a point that Edgmon noted multiple times during the news conference. When asked if he thinks charges will be filed, Edgmon said, “My own personal assessment is there probably would be.”
Edgmon noted that many in the House had developed good working and personal relationships with Fansler during his first year in office, but said the caucus will not tolerate his behavior.
If Fansler refuses to resign, the House has a number of different options with the most extreme would be to expel him through a special resolution and a vote. It’s a move that Edgmon said has been discussed within the House Majority Coalition, but again said it’s too early to determine.
“We talked a lot about that last night,” Edgmon said of a Monday night caucus meeting held in place of a Rules Committee meeting. “Future steps that may be in the offing are to be determined.”
For now, the House will wait for Fansler to decide whether or not he’ll step down.
“We’ve taken the steps that we can take at this point,” he said. “We have not heard from Rep. Fansler, but it’s my expectation that we likely will hear within–I’m hoping–sometime soon from Rep. Fansler and we’ll go from there.”
- Edgmon said he hadn’t heard additional claims that Fansler watched the victim and friends walk home on Saturday night after the allegations became public, adding that the Legislature can only control what happens within the building.
- In addition to taking away Fansler’s staff, the House is also asking for his keys to the building.
- Edgmon praised the victim for coming forward, noting during the caucus meeting, “We paid homage to the victim in her bravery and courage in coming forward.”