- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 4, 2017

Alaska’s largest newspaper has alleged that Republican state Sen. David Wilson slapped one of its reporters Tuesday during an exchange at the state Capitol.

Alaska Dispatch News reporter Nathaniel Herz told Juneau police that Mr. Wilson hit him across the face in the main stairwell of the Capitol after he asked the freshman lawmaker whether a recent Dispatch News story about his Senate Bill 90 was “reasonable,” the newspaper reported.

The story Monday said Mr. Wilson’s bill to eliminate a state grant program would hurt nearly a dozen social service organizations in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, “with the notable exception” of the Alaska Family Services nonprofit where Mr. Wilson worked until the end of last year.

On Tuesday, Mr. Herz caught up with Mr. Wilson in a Capitol stairwell with his cellphone voice recorder rolling when he asked, “Hey, what’d you think — was that reasonable?”

“Reasonable?” Mr. Wilson asked, according to audio published by Dispatch News.

“Fair?” Mr. Herz clarified.

“Fair, fair…” Mr. Wilson said with an exaggerated sigh.

Then there is what sounded like an impact and Mr. Wilson saying matter-of-factly, “There we go.”

Footsteps trailed off into the background and Mr. Herz called out, “Was that serious, or playful, or like — ha!”

“Hm, uh, yeah he slapped me,” Mr. Herz said. “That was interesting.”

Mr. Herz later called the slap a “love tap” but still felt it warranted a call to the Juneau Police Department.

“I was not enthusiastic about taking this to the police,” he told Dispatch News. “But I also felt like I couldn’t accept this kind of behavior from a public official.”

Dispatch News Editor David Hulen said, “We support our reporter. It’s not OK for a legislator to strike anyone.”

Juneau police spokesperson Erann Kalwara said an investigation is ongoing. No charges have yet been filed.

Daniel McDonald, a spokesman for the Republican-led Alaska Senate majority, said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that “the Senate expects professional conduct and decorum from all members,” Dispatch News reported.

He declined further comment “until the full facts surrounding the situation described are available.”

Tuesday’s alleged altercation came the same that Pennsylvania state Sen. Scott Wagner, also a Republican, was accused of assaulting a liberal tracker with American Bridge 21st Century at a private luncheon in York.

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