by James Brooks, Alaska Beacon
September 7, 2022
The Kenai Peninsula Borough paid $267,000 to settle a pair of workplace complaints alleging bullying and discrimination by Charlie Pierce, the borough’s departing mayor and a Republican candidate for governor. Only one of the settlements has been previously disclosed to the public.
Copies of the settlements were first published by Juneau radio station KINY after a public records request seeking copies of all settlements involving Pierce.
The previously undisclosed settlement involved a $117,000 payment to former Kenai borough human resources director Kim Saner, who left the borough last year.
According to the text of the settlement, Saner wrote a complaint to the borough’s lead attorney and Pierce’s chief of staff in December, alleging “illegal acts” related to Saner’s employment with the borough.
Saner’s last name is redacted from the agreement, but his first name and title were not redacted, allowing him to be identified.
As part of the agreement, Saner agreed to “withdraw and rescind any allegations of bullying related to (his) employment with the KPB” and to withdraw a request that he speak publicly about the issue.
Another clause of the agreement requires it to remain confidential and for Saner to refrain from speaking about it publicly.
The other settlement involves $150,000 paid to Sandra “Stormy” Brown, the borough’s former human resources director.
Brown sued the Borough in 2019, alleging that she was fired by Pierce after she told him that she had been diagnosed with a fatal case of cancer.
The borough settled the lawsuit later that year, after both sides went through a mediation process.
Reporters at multiple news agencies are investigating an alleged third workplace complaint involving Pierce and a borough employee. Multiple records requests have failed to yield information about that alleged action.
Pierce and members of the Kenai Borough Assembly have repeatedly declined to answer questions about the rumored complaint. Borough employees also have declined to discuss the issue or confirm the existence of the complaint.
In response to questions about the complaint, Borough Attorney Sean Kelley said there are no signed agreements, but he confirmed that the borough did conduct a confidential investigation earlier this year about an unspecified human resources issue.
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