The Democratic mayor of Alaska’s largest city submitted his resignation on Tuesday evening, four days after an anchorwoman at a local television station threatened to report he had posted nude photos of himself on a website.
Ethan Berkowitz adamantly denied her allegations, but on Monday admitted he had an inappropriate relationship with Maria Athens, the anchor at a Fox/ABC combined station in Anchorage.
“It is with profound sadness and humility that I resign as mayor of the Municipality of Anchorage,” he said in a statement read at the Anchorage Assembly meeting by his chief of staff, Jason Bockenstedt, and later emailed to the media.
“My resignation results from unacceptable personal conduct that has compromised my ability to perform my duties with the focus and trust that is required,” Berkowitz wrote.
Berkowitz, 58, noted that his conduct did great injury to his wife, their family, his staff and the people of Anchorage. “For that, I am deeply sorry,” he said.
A small but vocal crowd stood and cheered the resignation, which is effective Oct. 23.
The saga started when Athens posted a video on her Facebook page on Friday, the same day the station barred her from the studio.
In the video, she claimed she would break a story that night claiming Berkowitz posted nude photos to an underage website. She later posted what she said was a nude photo of the mayor.
Berkowitz’s office immediately denied the allegation. A day later, Anchorage police said they and the FBI investigated and found no evidence of criminal conduct.
Audio of a profanity-laden voicemail also surfaced late Monday, in which a woman who identified herself as Athens threatened to kill Berkowitz and his wife.
Athens was arrested later Friday after trespassing in the television studio after being told she could not return there.
She allegedly accosted the station manager, who charging documents identify as her boyfriend, and was arrested by police.
Athens was charged with assault, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. She was released Monday after posting bail.
According to the city charter, Felix Rivera, chairman of the Anchorage Assembly, will serve as acting mayor until a special election is held.
Berkowitz was elected to his second three-year term as mayor in 2018.
Berkowitz, a native of San Francisco, is also a lawyer and Anchorage businessman. He served in the Alaska House of Representative from 1997 to 2006, serving the last two years as minority leader.
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