Rep. Zach Fansler to resign effective Feb. 12

Updated | 12:41 p.m. Friday

State Rep. Zach Fansler submitted his resignation today, effective Feb. 12.

Fansler, a Bethel Democrat, resigned six days after a newspaper published allegations that he assaulted a woman in his hotel room. His resignation was announced on the House floor this morning.

Fansler wrote in the letter, “With great sadness I have decided to tender my resignation as the Representative of District 38 in order to dedicate more time to personal matters.”

Dillingham Democratic House Speaker Bryce Edgmon said the resignation brings a sense of closure.

“If Rep. Fansler hadn’t resigned, a cry for him to resign or to make some decision would have only have gotten louder,” Edgmon said. “But I think it also brings closure to his constituents, who want to be represented by having a member in the House of Representatives, and certainly to his staff.”

The Juneau Empire reported Saturday that the woman alleged Fansler slapped her repeatedly, rupturing her eardrum, when she denied his sexual advances.

Fansler hasn’t spoken publicly since the story was published, but his lawyer has denied the allegation.

Gov.  Bill Walker will have until March 14 to name someone to replace Fansler.

By tradition, District 38 Democrats will nominate three people for Walker to choose from.

Walker recently appointment John Lincoln to replace Kiana Democrat Dean Westlake, although he wasn’t one of the first three names submitted by the district party.

Westlake resigned after being accused of harassment by multiple women. Lincoln was sworn in on Wednesday.

A majority of the 16 House Democrats must approve the choice for the person to take the seat.

Anchorage Democratic Rep. Chris Tuck says Fansler’s staff will continue to work.

Edgmon said he would recommend the staff members to Fansler’s replacement.

Original story | 11:03 a.m. Friday

Alaska state Rep. Zach Fansler resigned today, KTOO government reporter Andrew Kitchenman says. It was announced on the House floor Friday morning.

The legislator tendered his resignation letter to House Speaker Bryce Edgmon this morning.

“With great sadness, I have decided to tender my resignation as the Representative of District 38 in order to dedicate more time to personal matters,” Fansler wrote. “It has been an honor to work beside my colleagues in the Alaska House of Representatives and serve the residents of the 38th District and this great state.”

In an interview with KYUK, his attorney, Wallace Tetlow, said that Fansler “didn’t feel that he could adequately serve his constituents given the allegations that have been made.”

A news release from the Alaska House Majority Coalition said Fansler’s resignation will be effective Feb. 12.

“Calling for Rep. Fansler’s resignation was the right thing to do given the severity of his alleged actions, but that does not mean that it was an easy thing to do because Zach was a committed and effective legislator for the people of House District 38. I also considered him a valuable member of our Coalition,” House Speaker Bryce Edgmon said in the news release. “The circumstances that warranted Rep. Fansler’s resignation were unfortunate and show the problems in our state with domestic violence and alcohol abuse. I want to thank Rep. Fansler for his service. I also want to thank all of the victims who have braved so much in coming forward. We can all take heart in their bravery.”

A Juneau woman alleged that Fansler slapped her multiple times when she denied his sexual advances, rupturing one of her eardrums in the process.

Fansler’s attorney Wallace Tetlow has repeatedly denied the allegations on Fansler’s behalf, and Fansler did not mention them, or the woman who accused him, in his resignation letter.

In the Alaska House Majority Coalition’s release, House Majority Leader Chris Tuck of Anchorage added that, “while Fansler was well liked and respected, his actions were counter to our shared values.”

District staff will continue to work to serve Fansler’s constituents, Tuck said.

Gov. Bill Walker will have until March 14 to name his replacement.

Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Democrats already are considering Fansler’s replacement and will be caucusing to select a new chair for the District’s party on Feb. 6.

(KYUK reported Teresa Cotsirilos contributed to this report. This story will be updated throughout the day.)

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Andrew Kitchenman

State Government Reporter, Alaska Public Media & KTOO

State government plays an outsized role in the life of Alaskans. As the state continues to go through the painful process of deciding what its priorities are, I bring Alaskans to the scene of a government in transition.

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