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.


More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 15

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Students leave the Marie Drake Building, which houses local alternative education offerings including the HomeBRIDGE correspondence program, on April 4. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Educators and lawmakers trying to determine impacts, next steps of ruling denying state funds for homeschoolers

“Everybody wants to make sure there’s a way to continue supporting homeschool families,” Kiehl says.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, April 14, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

TJ Beers holds a sign to advocate for the rights of people experiencing homelessness outside the state Capitol on April 9. Beers was homeless for four years and in three states. “I don’t know how I survived,” he said. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Lawmakers weigh whether to reduce or acknowledge rights of growing Alaska homeless population

As cities try to house people, Dunleavy’s protest bill would further criminalize them, advocates say.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, April 13, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, April 12, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, April 11, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The sky and mountains are reflected in the water on April 5, 2012, at the Kootznoowoo Wilderness in the Tongass National Forest’s Admiralty Island National Monument. Conservation organizations bought some private land and transferred it to the U.S. Forest Service, resulting in an incremental expansion of the Kootznoowoo Wilderness and protection of habitat important to salmon and wildlife. (Photo by Don MacDougall/U.S. Forest Service)
Conservation groups’ purchase preserves additional land in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

A designated wilderness area in Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the largest… Continue reading

A welcome sign is shown Sept. 22, 2021, in Tok. President Joe Biden won Alaska’s nominating contest on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Biden wins more delegates in Alaska and Wyoming as he heads toward Democratic nomination

President Joe Biden nudged further ahead in the Democratic nomination for reelection… Continue reading

Most Read