Ethan Berkowitz leaves questions unanswered as he exits public office

Published: Oct. 24, 2020 at 6:01 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - At 6 p.m. Friday, Ethan Berkowitz' second term as Mayor of Anchorage came to an end several months early, following his resignation amid a scandal involving a former local news anchor.

10 days prior, Berkowitz announced his resignation via a written statement read by his chief of staff, Jason Bockenstedt, during an Anchorage Assembly meeting.

The resignation came one day after he admitted to having an inappropriate, but consensual “messaging” relationship with local news anchor Maureen “Maria” Athens years ago.

Prior to that disclosure, Athens had taken to social media to post claims of alleged illegal internet activity by Berkowitz, accusing the mayor of inappropriately posting nude photos to a website. She then posted a photo showing a man’s unclothed backside, claiming it was “proof” of her unsubstantiated claims.

The mayor’s office quickly released a statement calling the claims “slanderous” and “categorically false.” The Anchorage Police Department confirmed that they were aware of the allegations and a joint investigation with the FBI revealed no evidence of criminal conduct.

A crowd inside the assembly chambers on Oct. 13 erupted in cheers and applause at the news of Berkowitz resignation. Some called for him to leave office immediately.

“The Mayor chose October 23 as the date of his resignation to afford the Assembly time to prepare for an orderly transition,” Carolyn Hall, the mayor’s communications director, wrote in an email.

According to Hall, Berkowitz didn’t take any meetings during his last ten days in office, he was not expected to sign any documents or agreements, and he prepared for the transition while working from home.

Questions from Alaska’s News Source about the timeline and nature of Berkowitz' inappropriate relationship with Athens and whether he had any other inappropriate relationships while serving as Anchorage’s mayor went unanswered.

“Consistent with the Mayor’s intent to return to life as a private citizen, he will not be answering further questions about purely private matters at this time,” Hall wrote in an email on Oct. 16, while Berkowitz was still serving as Mayor of Anchorage.

Oct. 23 will be the last day Berkowitz receives a salary, and his benefits expire at the end of the month, on Oct. 31.

Berkowitz has not agreed to participate in an interview with Alaska’s News Source, despite multiple requests.

Anchorage Assembly Chair Austin Quinn-Davidson is set to be sworn in as the municipality’s acting mayor Friday.

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