Rep. Zach Fansler, D-Bethel, attends a House Judiciary Committee meeting at the Capitol on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Rep. Zach Fansler, D-Bethel, attends a House Judiciary Committee meeting at the Capitol on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

After assault allegation, Fansler says he won’t resign. Will the legislators expel him anyway?

On Monday, the Capitol office of Rep. Zach Fansler, D-Bethel, was firmly locked.

The legislator was absent from Monday morning’s House floor session, and his customary seat in the House Judiciary Committee was empty. Even his nameplate was missing.

Two days after the Juneau Empire published the allegations of a woman who said Fansler slapped her, rupturing her eardrum, absence was the word of the day.

Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, has called for Fansler’s resignation, but Fansler — through an attorney — has said he will not resign. Several people with knowledge of the activities of the coalition House Majority said they expected a meeting of majority members late Monday could decide Fansler’s fate.

[Experts don’t buy Rep. Fansler’s ‘BDSM kink’ defense]

“I can’t comment,” said House Majority spokesman Mike Mason when asked about Fansler’s status within the majority.

Mason did confirm that Fansler has already been stripped of his legislative staff. Several people familiar with the options available to the 21-person majority (the arrival of John Lincoln would restore the majority to 22 members) said Fansler will face some kind of disciplinary action, even though he has not been charged with a crime.

He might be expelled from the majority, stripped of his committee assignments, censured or sanctioned.

The least-serious option would involve doing nothing and letting police and prosecutors handle it. The most serious option would be expulsion from the Legislature.

Article II, Section 12 of the Alaska Legislature states that the House and Senate are each “the judge of the election and qualifications of its members and may expel a member with the concurrence of two-thirds of its members.”

That has happened only once in Alaska history. On March 2, 1982, the Senate expelled Sen. George Hohman, D-Bethel, who had been convicted of attempting to bribe another legislator.

It isn’t clear whether the House Majority will select that option or whether enough members of the Republican House Minority would support an expulsion vote.

In a statement issued Saturday, House Minority Leader Charisse Millett said, “Reports of dating violence, sexual assault and harassment must not be tolerated anytime, anyplace and by any person, no matter their position or title.”

She went on to add, “We are living in a critical time during history, the culture of harassment and assault needs to end. We respect this victim, and all victims, for having fortitude, strength and courage to report abuse. House Republicans look forward to the day when this type of action is no longer occurring.”


• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.


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