The mayor of Anchorage, Alaska resigned overnight under somewhat murky circumstances. Ethan Berkowitz offered his resignation four days after a local TV presenter threatened to report that he had posted nude photos of himself on a website.
Berkowitz categorically denied his claims, but admitted on Monday that he had an inappropriate relationship with Maria Athens, the anchor of a combined Fox / ABC station in Anchorage.
“It is with deep sadness and humility that I resign from my post as mayor of the Municipality of Anchorage,” he said in a statement read during the Anchorage Assembly meeting by his leader of cabinet, Jason Bockenstedt, then emailed to the media.
“My resignation was the result of unacceptable personal conduct which compromised my ability to perform my duties with the necessary focus and confidence,” Berkowitz wrote.
Berkowitz, 58, noted that his driving seriously injured his wife, family, staff and the people of Anchorage. “For this I am deeply sorry,” he said.
The Associated Press reports that a small but noisy crowd stood up and applauded the resignation, which is effective October 23.
The buzzing Anchorage saga began when Athens posted a video on its Facebook page on Friday, the same day the station denied it access to the studio. In the video, she claimed she would tell a story that evening, claiming Berkowitz posted nude photos on a juvenile website. She later also posted what she said was a photo of the mayor’s bare back.
Berkowitz’s office immediately denied the unfounded allegation. A day later, Anchorage Police said they and the FBI investigated and found no evidence of criminal conduct.
Audio of a blasphemy and racist-laden voicemail message also surfaced on Monday night, in which a woman who identified herself as Athens and exposed her network affiliations threatened to kill Berkowitz, who is Jewish, and his wife. The audio for the Friday morning phone call to Berkowitz was obtained from the online blog The Alaska Landmine.
“The local FBI office in Anchorage coordinated with the Anchorage Police Department in the early stages of their investigation into the allegations against Mayor Berkowitz, regarding inappropriate photos on a juvenile website and threatening communications he he received, ”an FBI statement said Tuesday. “Based on this initial investigation, there was no immediate evidence to support a violation of federal law; however, the FBI field office in Anchorage continues to monitor the situation.
Athens was arrested later on Friday after entering the television studio after learning that she could not return. She allegedly approached the station manager, who identifies the charging documents as her boyfriend, and she was arrested by police. Athens has been charged with assault, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. She was released on Monday after posting bail.