Alaska State Sen. David Wilson was upset over a newspaper story that highlighted legislation that would benefit a former employer of his, took out his frustration by slapping the reporter responsible for it.
Alaska Dispatch News reporter Nathaniel Herz told Juneau police officers about the incident earlier this week, which allegedly took place in the state Capitol. Wilson, a freshman lawmaker who represents Wasilla, slapped Herz while the two were walking down a set of stairs.
Herz had written a story that ran in last weekend’s paper spotlighting legislation Wilson introduced to end funding for social services groups in Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Wilson’s home district. The bill would not cut funding to Alaska Family Services, which employed Wilson before he won election to the state Senate.
When Herz saw Wilson in the Capitol he asked what Wilson thought of the story, in an interaction caught on a recording made on Herz’s cellphone.
“What’d you think, was that reasonable?” Herz is heard asking Wilson on the recording.
“Reasonable?” Wilson repeats.
“Fair?” Herz says.
“Fair?” Wilson says again. After a pause and a sigh, the sound of a slap is heard on the recording.
Herz, laughing nervously, calls after him: “Was that serious, or playful, or like…”
Herz filed a police report after the incident. He told a fellow Dispatch News reporter: “I was not enthusiastic about taking this to the police. But I also felt like I couldn’t accept this kind of behavior from a public official.”
No charges have been filed, and Wilson did not return calls from the Dispatch News seeking comment.