ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - A leading member of the House minority caucus said Friday that Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux should resign her post as chairwoman of the House Rules Committee for failing to investigate a sexual harassment complaint by a legislative aide.
Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, said LeDoux had a duty to protect the staffer, who complained in a letter to House leaders in March that Rep. Dean Westlake, a Democrat from Kiana, had improperly touched her and made inappropriate comments about her appearance.
In a prepared statement in response, LeDoux double downed. She said that not only would she not resign, but insisted that mandatory harassment training would go forward.
Westlake resigned in December after media reports about the complaints from the woman and other aides, and a KTUU story that he had fathered a child with a teenager when he was in his late 20s. His resignation was demanded by House Speaker Bryce Edgmon and the chairwoman of the state Democratic Party.
An aide said Friday that LeDoux was traveling on personal matters and couldn’t be reached for an interview. The House majority press office issued LeDoux's statement.
LeDoux is an Anchorage Republican and one of three Republicans who joined the House’s bipartisan coalition. The Rules chair is a member of the House’s leadership.
Wilson said she had no direct evidence that LeDoux knew of the aide’s plight when the aide sent a written complaint to Edgmon and House Majority Leader Chris Tuck in March. But Wilson, a legislator since 2009, said LeDoux should have known and investigated the complaint.
“More people were victimized in March,” Wilson said in a telephone interview from North Pole. “And there still has not been an investigation about why they hid it so long.”
LeDoux has told all House members and staff that they must attend sexual harassment training in Juneau. Though she has no power to remove legislators, LeDoux told them they will lose their staff if they don’t comply.
That brought a sarcastic rejoinder from Wilson, who said she wouldn’t attend unless all the issues surrounding the complaint against Westlake are fully investigated.
“Do they need training at the leadership to know that if you get a complaint, you don’t stick in a drawer and pretend it didn’t happen?” Wilson said.
“This is not minority against majority,” said Wilson, denying she was following a political agenda. “This is about protecting staff no matter who they work for.”
That's precisely the point, LeDoux said.
“I strongly support the effort to update the harassment policy of the Alaska Legislature, but without the proper training to prevent harassment, it is a waste of time. Despite Rep. Wilson’s objection, every member of the House and their staff will be required to undergo training,” LeDoux said. ”Under my watch, harassment will not be tolerated in the Alaska Legislature.“
LeDoux also said she didn't believe Wilson's denial that politics played a role in Wilson's attack.
“This is not an issue that should be politicized, but that's exactly what Rep. Wilson is doing," she said.
This story was updated to include Rep. LeDoux's response.