The woman Propositioned by Alaska’s former Lieutenant branch Tells her Story because that the very first Time

In 2018, Jody Potts to be the target that misconduct indigenous then-Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott. 2 days later, that resigned, but the details that what happened have never been publicly told until now.

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Jody Potts in April 2018. She was propositioned through Alaska’s former lieutenant governor. (Bill Roth/Anchorage day-to-day News)
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This story was co-published through the Anchorage day-to-day News, a member the the local Reporting Network.

As the elevator rose, Jody Potts wonder at the possibilities.

It was late ~ above a Sunday afternoon, Oct. 14, 2018, in downtown Anchorage. Potts was in town ~ above business and also had skipped her evening operation to to visit this hastily i ordered it meeting v the branch of Alaska, bill Walker, and also Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott.

As a former town public safety officer sergeant and also an outspoken voice for justice in Alaska villages, Potts claimed she knew they could want her assist with the election, which was weeks away. She’d had a tough year, charged by troopers through damaging a car in a situation that was later on dismissed however that had actually placed her legislation enforcement career in jeopardy. Maybe, she thought, the governor and also lieutenant governor planned to offer her a project within state government.

The refined brass doors that the elevator opened and Potts, 41 in ~ the time, stepped ~ above the seventh floor of the Hotel Captain Cook. She knocked ~ above the door come Room 704.

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Mallott answered, alone in the room. He asked her to take a seat and also began come talk.

Looking her up and down, Mallott called her around the powerful attraction he had for her and hoped she felt the same. As soon as she rose to leave, the reminded her of the initiative he’d put into advocating for she over the years. Potts rejected the developments and left.

The story of what taken place in the hotel room has never been publicly told. Yet within 48 hours, Mallott had actually resigned together lieutenant governor, and within a week, pedestrian dropped his campaign for reelection.

Mallott died of a heart strike this May, yet variations of the misconduct that finished his career continue to torment state government. Because 2017, five Alaska officials have actually resigned or abandoned your reelection projects following harassment or sexual misconduct allegations.

On Aug. 25, the Anchorage day-to-day News and also reported that Alaska Attorney general Kevin Clarkson had actually sent hundreds of text messages consisting of kiss emoji, dinner invitations and also other overtures to a younger state employee. Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced Clarkson’s resignation much less than two hrs later.

It to be the Clarkson resignation the indirectly led Potts and also her household to come front publicly. Potts said that once she report Mallott’s misconduct to Alaska aboriginal leaders in ~ minutes of that happening, she search to stay anonymous. She nearly went public when blog articles stated, wrongly she said, that Mallott’s victim was no Potts however her then-16-year-old daughter.

“I inquiry to remain anonymous to protect my family, and also it ended up the my household got attacked,” Potts said.

She later signed a nondisclosure agreement, as part of a 2019 civil settlement, at the inquiry of Mallott. (Mallott’s household says he respect Potts and also voluntarily resigned yet disputes that he lured she to the meeting under a false pretense.)

Potts claimed she is coming forward this particular day anyway the end of problem for she daughter, who she says has been harassed by people who wrongly think the daughter was propositioned by Mallott. Potts is sharing her first-hand account in an episode that underscores the intense press on victims of sexual harassment to continue to be silent and also the high price of report the bad behavior of a powerful man.

Walker and also other previous officials i agreeed to be interviewed because that this story, explicate what lock knew and also when, and also why the public has known so small until now. All expressed sympathy for Mallott’s family, offered his current death, and also acknowledged that he have the right to no longer tell his side of the story.

Here is what taken place according to Potts, as well as interviews through her daughter and also father, Walker, chiefs of employee for both Walker and also Mallott, Mallott’s son Anthony and others that watched the resignation unfold.

An Invitation

Each October, thousands gather for a conference and also related occasions to comment on the many pressing matters facing Alaska native villages, corporations, nonprofit organization providers and 229 federally known tribes.

Potts to be a familiar face at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention. A Han Gwich’in dog musher and triathlete who thrived up in the town of Eagle, she’d take away the phase at the group’s 2017 convention as a keynote speaker describing personal loss and historical trauma. Potts stated she to be disliked by part at the state room of Public safety for saying Alaska wasn’t doing sufficient to defend villagers.

Potts’ keynote decided at the 2017 Alaska Federation that Natives convention.

In 2018, the conference had actually returned come Anchorage (it occasionally alternates between there and Fairbanks) and Potts remained in town early on as a member the the governor’s advisory the supervisory board on defect relations.

Potts ran the regulation enforcement routine for the Tanana Chiefs Conference, a Fairbanks-based defect nonprofit. Her boss at TCC, Victor Joseph, additionally attended the council meeting on Oct. 14 at the Atwood building downtown, together did Walker and Mallott.

In a call interview, Walker said he made an appearance at the start of the meeting, sitting beside Potts because that about half an hour. Potts, who had actually been training because that an Ironman triathlon, remembers keeping track of the time on she heart monitor watch.

During a break, Potts stepped the end of the conference room. “As i was walking the end of the restroom, there to be Byron in this small hallway,” she said, introduce to Mallott, who she had met years previously at a Minto village potlatch while working as a town public safety officer.

What to be she doing after ~ the meeting, Mallott asked. “He said, ‘The governor and I would prefer to satisfy with you.’”

When the committee adjourned in ~ 3:30 p.m., Potts stated she approached Mallott.

“I said, ‘I’m accessible now if you both are,’” she said. “He said yes.”

She had actually assumed the talk would certainly take ar at the Atwood Building, wherein the tribal advisory group had just met and the governor and also lieutenant governor have actually state offices. Instead, Mallott argued they go to the Hotel Captain Cook, 6 blocks away.

Mallott, then 75, cut a towering figure in Alaska politics. Over a decadeslong career, he’d been the market of the funding city of Juneau, chef executive because that the Sealaska Corp., executive director for the Alaska Permanent money Corp. And also president the the Alaska Federation the Natives. He had been the autonomous nominee for governor in 2014 prior to joining v Walker, one independent, to loss Republican incumbent Sean Parnell.

As sublievenant governor, Mallott still lived in Juneau and had lengthy used the high-end hotel for extended stays and as a 2nd office when in Anchorage, friend said.

“It go not also occur come me the this to be unusual since I knew politicians sometimes have staff rooms at hotels and also I trusted him as Lt. Governor and also as an elder,” Potts composed in a declare describing the encounter that was recently provided to the everyday News and also

Alaska Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott in 2015. (Ralph Radford/State department via Flickr)

In a phone interview, Walker said he was not invited to the conference by Mallott and also had no idea it to be happening.

Potts claimed she’d learned to tolerate and also ignore sexual harassment, as many of her co-workers to be men. Normally, if a male invited she to a hotel, together some have tried end the years, she would say no.

Mallott had actually never formerly attempted come cross any type of boundaries v her, she said. “No advancements before that. Never ever had any kind of romantic or private moments with Byron. (It) never also crossed my mind.”

There to be no indication this was anything other than an audience v Alaska’s top chosen officials. Walker, battered by the unpopular decision to mitigate Alaskans’ annual dividend checks in order to pay for state government, to be fighting because that reelection against Republican former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy and also former U.S. Sen. Note Begich, a Democrat.

In the three-person race, pollsters presume Walker and also Begich would separation votes, leave Dunleavy as the clean favorite. Begich had resisted call from some Democrats to drop out of the contest, however with the basic election three weeks away, Walker’s team was confident Begich might fold and present a unified front versus Dunleavy.

Potts didn’t recognize it, however Mallott was amongst those in the administration who’d questioned trying to find a place for she in state government, according to Walker. Possibly a task with the room of publicly Safety.

“There was part discussion,” pedestrian said. “I might see … he to be mulling roughly what deserve to be excellent or other we might do in ~ the state federal government that would certainly be advantageous to her.”

Before heading to the hotel, Potts gathered her meeting notes and talked through Walker’s deputy cook of staff, grace Jang. Potts discussed the upcoming meeting with the governor and also lieutenant governor.

In a call interview, Jang remembered gift surprised through the remark. She provided a confused look, Potts recalled.

There to be no such meeting on the main calendars.

Then before leaving the Atwood Building, Potts captured up through her ceo in the lobby of the Atwood. She said him, “Hey Victor, the governor and also the sublieutenant governor invited me to a meeting best now. I’m headed over there now.”

“What’s that about?”

“I have no idea.”

What occurred in the Room

As she walked throughout the brick floors the the Hotel Captain Cook, she phone pinged through two messages from Mallott.

“Tower 1.”


Opened by former Gov. Wally Hickel in 1965, the hotel is among the few high-rise fence write-ups of the Anchorage skyline. A statue the its namesake explorer stands in the lobby, near a graph of Cook’s voyages.

Potts stepped right into the wood-and-brass elevator. A bell chimed together it climbed every of the seven floors. At about 3:50 p.m., Potts knocked ~ above the narrow black color door of Room 704.

A screenshot of Mallott’s and Potts’ text exchange. (Courtesy of Jody Potts, redaction by

Mallott greeted she alone in the suite, Potts said. A wall separated the office room from his bed around the corner. The vertical windows framed downtown Anchorage; the rippling Alaska state flag and also the entryway the a state courthouse were visible ~ above the street below.

Potts said, “I immediately thought that the governor was running late, but before I also was able to inquire wherein the governor was, (Mallott) instantly told me to sit down.”

She sat on a chair encountering the window; Mallott satellite on a tiny couch.

“Ever due to the fact that I met you,” Mallott began, according to Potts, “I’ve to be physically attractive to you, and also I hope that’s reciprocated.”

“You don’t have to answer now,” that added.

The blood seemed to leave Potts’ legs. She said she feel sick, her heart pounding. She was supplied to controlling a room as a public safety and security officer, protecting against fights and also confronting abusers. She wasn’t used to emotion powerless.

For a few moments no one spoke.

“In mine mind I wanted to cuss the out and tell him the I’m absolutely no interested and also remind him the he to be an old man,” she said. “But because of his power, I likewise realized ns couldn’t violation or alarm that for fear of repercussions to mine career.”

She parried. “I am focused on mine work and also advocacy,” she said. She made tiny talk, to buy time. She tried to find a solution. How to allow him down easy. How to leave the room as quick as possible.

“I to be thinking exactly how to acquire out the the room there is no offending or great him. Ns told the that i appreciated what their administration has done and accomplished,” Potts said.

Another silence.

“About your comment,” she said. “I’m shocked and I don’t really have actually anything come say about that.”

Mallott comment by talking about how he’d constantly supported her career, she said. “He talked around how he’s promoted for me and my reputation so that i could proceed to have a voice and continue to work,” she noted in a description she wrote soon after the encounter and recently noted to the day-to-day News and

“As the was informing me everything he had done because that me, I certainly felt he was trying to make me feel favor I owed him something,” Potts wrote.

“He to be looking me up and also down,” she wrote. Her legs shook and she sat on she hands to shot and stable herself.

The Garmin to run watch she wore come monitor her heart while exercising recorded every pounding beat. When Potts later on looked in ~ the app, she discovered her heart rate had spiked approximately 4 p.m., the time of the encounter.

Potts’ heart price monitor spiked in ~ 4 p.m., when she met Mallott in his hotel room. (Courtesy the Jody Potts)

Potts made a display of looking in ~ the watch, hoping to use the time as an excuse to end the conversation. “Well, I have to go.”

She began to stand, she said, however Mallott motioned for she to sit ago down.

“I feeling powerless and obligated come sit again. That continued: ‘About mine comment earlier. I’ve to be so physically attracted to you however what sane guy wouldn’t be? It’s not all simply your beauty, it’s her power and strength and also your voice. You room a fighter. I prefer that you a fighter. I’m a an excellent man.’”

Potts claimed he seemed to it is in making the instance for himself. He’d to be sober for 25 years, he said, and faithful to his wife.

“But I had actually to tell you about my feelings because that you and how distinct you are to me,” that said, Potts recalled.

Standing up, she claimed she really had actually to leave. Mallott provided her one awkward hug and also she walked the end the door.

Later, she wrote: “The strength dynamic in this situation with the Lt. Governor actually scared me. The quantity of power this guy held, the deception to gain me come his room, the comments he to be making, the insinuation the I must submit to him sexually, his effort to manipulate me, his ability to damage me, every made me feeling powerless and fear for my career and livelihood.”

Claire Richardson, Mallott’s cook of employee at the time, stated that once Mallott later described the conference to her, he identified telling Potts that he found her powerfully attractive. However he seemed to think the had finished “benignly.”

“What the Hell Happened???!!!”

As she exited the hotel, Potts texted 2 friends.

“The Lt Gov inquiry me previously to have actually a meeting through him and also the governor after the meeting. I agreed bc I assumed it was around work.”

One that the women, Enei Peter, replied: “What the hell happened???!!! must we conference call??”

Potts wrote, “Well, ~ the meeting I said him ns was available. He invited me to his room 704, which he is the LT Gov for this reason I assumed it was ok and also people would be there. Nope.”

“Oh no,” Peter wrote.

Potts, Peter and also another friend, who asked not to be named, spoke v one another in a conference call and Potts defined the encounter. Peter said she feeling nauseated hearing Potts, recognized for she strength, in tears.

“This is no OK,” Peter remembers speak to Potts at the time. The friends urged her to tell someone.

Potts said she speak to Joseph, her ceo at Tanana Chiefs Conference. (He did no respond to interview requests for this story.) She told him what Mallott had actually said and that she never ever wanted come be roughly him again.

Joseph argued that he tell the governor what happened. Potts agreed however said she did not want to come forward publicly.

“I wanted to stay anonymous since I feared that i would endure what other women who report frequently go through, especially in the general public eye once confronting a an effective person,” Potts created in her original description of what occurred. She additionally feared Mallott would deny what happened.

Just before 8 p.m. She flew house to she children, consisting of her then-16-year-old daughter Quannah Chasing horse Potts, who had remained in Fairbanks.

Her heart retained pounding. A worried girlfriend drove her to the emergency room to gain checked out for a quick heartbeat.

“The doctors gave me medication and monitored me till I to be stable and released me after 1 a.m. Top top (Oct. 15.),” Potts wrote.

By then it was Monday, the an initial day that the Elders and Youth Conference, a three-day conference that comes before the Alaska Federation that Natives convention. Mallott to be to be a featured speaker at both events.

His chef of staff, Richardson, was working at her office top top the 17th floor that the Atwood Building, whereby she briefly witnessed Mallott the morning. He claimed nothing of the encounter with Potts.

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In her account that what happened, i m sorry she common in an answer to concerns from the daily News and also, Richardson wrote she handed that his schedule and also the sublieutenant governor and also governor walked with each other to the adjacent Denaʼina Civic and also Convention Center.