MAYOR RELEASES PRIVATE AUDIO TO DAMAGE HIS ACCUSER
Mayor Ethan Berkowitz came halfway clean on Monday after admitting that he had had an inappropriate “messaging” relationship with TV reporter Maria Athens.
But he didn’t come all the way clean. Instead, he asked everyone to respect his privacy.
That alleged “messaging” relationship was something Athens had never discussed last week. Her actual allegation was that the mayor had been posting lewd photos to a kiddie porn website and she said she had “reliable sources.”
She was readying to go on the air with the allegations on Friday, when the station manager at the local YourAlaskaLink Fox News affiliate told her no — the story was good, but she was in no condition to tell it just then.
Athens had on Facebook posted a photo of Berkowitz’ naked body — a selfie that he took and sent to her — on Friday afternoon, as some kind of proof that Berkowitz was capable of doing such kiddie porn activity. But the photo raised a lot more questions.
Mayor Berkowitz was quiet over the weekend, after his initial denial and rebuke of the broadcast reporter, issued by his official press office on Friday.
It would have been a difficult weekend at his house, where his wife, Mara Kimmel, was likely not amused to see her husband’s naked body splashed all over Facebook.
Read: Mayor apologizes over sexting relationship
In his Monday statement, Berkowitz was asking the public to respect his privacy.
But at the same time, Berkowitz released to a Democrat-friendly political blogger/operative a private voicemail from Athens that he had received on Friday, a voice recording that made her look unhinged, dangerous, and anti-semitic. In the voicemail, Athens threatened to kill him.
Why would the mayor ask for privacy from the public and in the same hour amp up the war with Athens in the public arena?
He wants it both ways. It’s a powerful man pushing a broken woman to the brink.
Must Read Alaska has spoken with Athens extensively and, while much of the conversation was off the record, she sticks by her original story that the mayor was engaged in kiddie porn. She provided clues to why she thinks that and those clues have been passed along to law enforcement.
THE PROTECTION SQUAD TO THE RESCUE
The questions surrounding the deference given to the Anchorage mayor by the media and his own police department continue.
The media tried to extinguish the story over the weekend, while Berkowitz surrogates Forrest Dunbar, Eric Croft, Andrew Halcro, Chris Constant, and Casey Reynolds took to social media to defend the mayor. Many of their social media posts have since been removed.
This is a case of powerful men in Anchorage trying to discredit a woman who is clearly in crisis. They’re trying to save Berkowitz in order to save their Democrat political machine, which has just thrown a rod.
Critics reached out to Must Read Alaska to say that the quick investigation of Athens’ kiddie-porn charge by the Anchorage Police Department, and their hasty statement that there are no merits to the charge is something that defies explanation. The quick closing of the case calls into question the integrity of Police Chief Justin Doll.
Athens’ claims, in spite of the mayor’s denials, are not completely unfounded. The public now knows he capable of lying to them: He lied in the Friday press release when he denied Athens’ allegation, while blistering her as “hostile” and “unwell.”
That press release was — by every measure — an abuse of his power. He had no right as a public official to speak about her health or to accuse her from his position of power.
On Monday, came his apology, and again the statement that he did nothing criminal, repeating on the record that brief announcement by the Anchorage Police Department, which he controls.
But in fact, he engaged in a relationship with a reporter who covered him at City Hall, and then lied about it to the public, and painted her as a madwoman. From what information Must Read Alaska has gathered, it was more than just a sexting relationship. He has not told the whole truth.
ABUSE OF POWER
The disparate nature of power and the abuse of that power is now the story. If Athens is unwell, then Berkowitz is using his powerful platform to take away her credibility and to paint himself as the victim.
This speaks to Berkowitz having a predatory character, a man who will do anything to save himself.
Athens, who made $29,000 a year as a TV anchor, is not the one who ran for office and has the public trust of an elected official.
She is not the one with emergency powers over the citizens of Anchorage, powers granted by his allies on the Anchorage Assembly.
It is Ethan Berkowitz who ran for office. And now he is bullying a powerless woman who has little to lose, while he has everything to lose if he doesn’t shut her up or drive her to harm herself.