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Reporter alleges lawmaker 'slapped' him — and now police are involved

Alaska Dispatch News reporter Nathaniel Herz claims Alaska state Sen. David Wilson (R-Wasilla) "slapped" him during a conversation about a story that was unfavorable to the lawmaker. (Image source: KTVA-TV screenshot)

An Alaska state capitol reporter said a state senator "slapped" him during a conversation about a story that was unfavorable to the lawmaker.

Alaska Dispatch News reporter Nathaniel Herz accused Republican Sen. David Wilson of Wasilla of hitting him as the two walked through the Alaska state capitol on Tuesday, according to the Dispatch News.

The encounter came just two days after Herz published a story about a piece of legislation Wilson introduced that would cut nearly $1.5 million in state funding for social service organizations — except for the nonprofit organization, Alaska Family Services, where the recently elected Wilson worked until just last year.

Herz caught up with Wilson on Tuesday to ask the lawmaker's opinion of the story and whether he thought it was fair.

"Hey, what'd you think – was that reasonable?" Herz asked in the recorded conversation.

"Reasonable?" Wilson responded.

"Fair?" Herz followed up.

"Fair?" Wilson repeated.

At that point, there were a few seconds of silence, followed by what sounds like a slap.

"There we go," Wilson said. That's when the lawmaker presumably walked away, as footsteps are then heard in the audio recording.

"Was that serious, or playful, or like—?" Herz said, seemingly in shock by what apparently just happened.

Another Republican lawmaker, Sen. Mia Costello of Anchorage, approached moments later. Herz informed Costello of the alleged physical confrontation.

"He, uh, slapped me. That was interesting," Herz said.

Asked about the incident later, Herz clarified that while he was not injured, it "wasn't a love tap."

Herz filed a police report with the Juneau Police Department Tuesday evening because he "couldn't accept this kind of behavior from a public official."

"It's not OK for a legislator to strike anyone," Dispatch News Editor David Hulen said.

Juneau Police spokeswoman Erann Kalwara confirmed to the newspaper Thursday that "an officer spoke with the person and an investigation is continuing." The identity of the person with whom police said they spoke was not immediately clear.

As of Friday morning, no charges had been filed but Kalwara told KTVA-TV that an incident like the one Herz described would likely be categorized as misdemeanor assault.

KTVA caught up with Wilson and asked the lawmaker if he did, in fact, slap the reporter.

Wilson replied by saying "no comment" at first. He later told the station, "I am not a violent person."

Alaska state Senate majority spokesman Daniel McDonald offered no further comment Wednesday, other than to reiterate the "professional conduct and decorum" expected of "all members."

(H/T: The Hill)

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