To be exceedingly fair to Zack Fields, a Democratic member of the Alaskan state legislature, we’ve all had a joke bomb.
On February 24, during a legislative session, Fields delivered a happy 31st birthday message to his Republican colleague, Rep. Sara Rasmussen. Unfortunately, for the casual viewer, the well-wishes didn’t quite land.
Here’s what Fields said, emphasis ours:
Today, February 24, is an auspicious day in the House because it marks the 31st birthday of our colleague from Sand Lake. Whether you agree or disagree with her on a given issue, there’s no doubt her strategic instincts and and ability to plot... strategy are far more advanced than her age. In addition to gracing us with her presence, we’re lucky that her husband Alex and children Gracen and Charlotte are able to relocate to Juno with her for the sessions so we can all spend time with them.
However! Despite her skills as a legislator and loving spirit as a friend, I’ve recently become aware of a problem caused by the representative in her home district. A problem related to the risk of automobile collissions in her neighborhood. [...] To be clear, I’m reading from what one of her constituents wrote. And I quote: “Sara can wear a short skirt in Anchorage and stop traffic once the spring clothes can be worn.” Madam speaker, I know we all share this voter’s concern about traffic safety, particularly in a neighborhood like Sand Lake, where so many children walk to school. Furthermore, I know nobody in this chamber, would be so judgemental as to condemn a colleague for just being as the good Lord made her. Nonetheless, this being her birthday, and having heard concerns about safety in her neighborhood, I wanted to let my friend from Sand Lake know that her colleagues and I have teamed up to purchase her a pair of sweatpants that she can wear when she returns to the district this spring. It’s the least we can do for the safety of her residents. Happy birthday to our dear friend.”
In response, Rasmussen said, “for the first time, I am speechless.” She then thanked Fields for the “eloquent speech.”
Look, maybe this was an inside joke between friends—Jezebel has contacted both Fields and Rasmussen for comment and will update this story if we receive a response. But without context... yikes. I can’t imagine anyone wanting their legs—or whatever the “good Lord” gave them—to be the center of a speech during a legislative session, especially when you’re a woman, and especially when those statements are coming from a man you work with.
Again, I don’t think that Fields meant for this to sound creepy—it sounded as though he intended to poke fun at Rasmussen’s horn dog of a constituent, if anything. But does that eradicate the mortification factor? Definitely not.
Update, 5:1 p.m.: Rep. Rasmussen offered the following statement to Jezebel:
Rep. Fields apologized to me immediately after our House Floor session yesterday. I have accepted his apology. I know that his two young daughters mean the world to him, and I believe he genuinely regrets his remarks.
Well, at least he said sorry!