Fansler hasn’t responded to House leaders’ resignation request

Rep. Zach Fansler, D-Bethel, addresses the Capitol Press Corps in March 2017. House majority leaders have asked for him to resign after a woman alleged he repeatedly slapped her, bursting her eardrum. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon said Rep. Zach Fansler hasn’t responded to House majority leaders’ request that he resign.

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Edgmon, a Dillingham Democrat, said in a press availability Tuesday morning that the caucus is giving Fansler time.

A woman alleged that Fansler slapped her repeatedly, rupturing her eardrum, when she denied his sexual advances.

“Rep. Fansler has constitutional rights, and he’s not been criminally charged yet,” Edgmon said. “To ask for his resignation: It’s a bold step. And it’s something that we acted very definitively and very quickly on, because quite frankly our policy towards inappropriate treatment and, certainly, violence towards anyone, much less a woman, is something we just won’t tolerate.”

Edgmon said any further steps – such as expelling Fansler from the majority or from the Legislature – won’t be determined until after lawmakers hear from Fansler, a Bethel Democrat who took office last year.

Edgmon said the allegations have been shocking to caucus members, who have worked closely with Fansler. He said they honor the woman’s courage in coming forward.

“I know Zach well, and I truly wish him the best,” Edgmon said. “Knowing him as I do, I think he’s going to make a decision that certainly will be best for him, but I think he’s also keeping the caucus in mind, and so it’s my hope that his decision will come sooner than later.”

Fansler hasn’t appeared in the Capitol since James Brooks of the Juneau Empire reported the allegations Saturday.