State prosecutor decides not to charge Sen. Wilson in reporter slapping

State Sen. David Wilson, R-Wasilla, addresses his colleagues in the Senate in June. The state Office of Special Prosecutions declined to charge Wilson in the slapping of reporter Nathaniel Herz. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

The Alaska Office of Special Prosecutions has declined to pursue charges against Wasilla Republican Sen. David Wilson for a May incident in which he slapped Anchorage Daily News reporter Nathaniel Herz.

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In a letter Tuesday to Juneau police, Chief Assistant Attorney General Andrew Peterson wrote that it is unlikely the state will be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Wilson acted with the specific intent to harass or annoy Herz, the standard for determining harassment in the second degree.

Peterson wrote: “This in no ways implies that Senator Wilson’s conduct is not of concern, but rather that the resources necessary for this prosecution is disproportionate to the conduct, especially since the Legislature has the authority to address this conduct through other means.”

Herz recorded audio of the slap.

Wilson says he wants to put the incident behind him.

“We have much more pressing matters as a state,” Wilson said. “I never had any ill will, malicious intent or intentions toward Mr. Herz. I respect him as a journalist and I hope that we can continue on with a professional relationship. As I feel since we’re still secluded in Juneau, I feel the journalists down there have one of the key voices to the people of Alaska to help the disseminate the information that happens in Juneau.”

The incident occurred May 2. Herz had asked Wilson about a story Herz had written. It was about a bill Wilson proposed that would end a program that distributes grants to some Matanuska-Susitna Borough social service agencies.

Wilson’s former employer wouldn’t have lost money from the bill.

The Senate has not taken any public action in response to the incident.