Dunleavy 'dismayed' his fisheries appointee was rejected after sexual misconduct claims surfaced

Gov. Dunleavy talks about the possibility of vetoing budget items, or an entire budget, if a...
Gov. Dunleavy talks about the possibility of vetoing budget items, or an entire budget, if a full PFD can't be provided to Alaskans. (KTUU) (KTUU)
Published: Apr. 26, 2019 at 9:11 AM AKDT
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In a letter sent by Governor Mike Dunleavy this week, he said he was "dismayed" that his pick for chair of the Board of Fisheries was rejected, after multiple reports of sexual misconduct were levied against him.

That candidate, Karl Johnstone, did not gather the required votes from the legislature Tuesday, and in a follow-up letter from Dunleavy, the governor expressed his displeasure at the news.

"I was proud to forward your name to the legislature and deeply regret that they did not confirm your appointment," Dunleavy wrote. "Sadly, we watched our elected officials forsake decorum and a fair process. In doing so, they trampled on your Constitutional rights and disenfranchised real victims of serious crimes."

Last Wednesday, just before the Legislature was set to vote on his confirmation, Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, D - Anchorage, voiced new allegations of sexual harassment against Johnstone. Spohnholz says more than two women who worked for the Board of Fisheries contacted her office about his behavior.

Johnstone's nomination was already expected to be close after two animated hearings focusing on his past service and outlook on fisheries management, making a his confirmation uncertain even before Spohnholz came forward with victim accusations.

The Legislature initially tabled his confirmation vote, but ended up rejecting his appointment at the end of the night.

In the letter from Dunleavy, he called the confirmation hearing "theatrics and character assassination," adding, "it was appalling."

Spohnholz said that the women did not come forward publicly for fear of retribution.

"I think folks came forward to me because they were concerned that somebody that had a track record of treating people that they work with in a disrespectful manner, they wanted to make sure that the person wouldn't be a person of authority over others again in the future," Spohnholz said.

Johnstone said the allegations were claims with no evidence to support them, and should not have been used to make legislators change their vote of supporting him.

"First of all, they should not have been brought up at all since they were not substantiated in any way, shape or form. They shouldn't be used to make an important decision, in my opinion," Johnstone said.

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