Welcome to Loser Sons of Politics, a new column where members of the Jezebel staff recall with fondness the antics of the loser sons of politicians. Today, with considerably less fondness, we bring you Alaska State Senator Pete Kelly, who believes birth control is for loose women and whose son, Devin, was just charged with sexual abuse of a minor under 13.
It’s an enduring mathematical equation of American politics that the louder politicians are about their morals and family values, the more embarrassingly they or their family members fail to embody them. Pete Kelly, a Republican, has variously served in the Alaska Senate and House since 1995, while also co-founding something called Humble Raven Ministries. He’s been hailed by the conservative Alaska Family Action as a “warrior” for “pro-life and pro-family” causes: Kelly was staunchly opposed to gay marriage before the U.S. Supreme Court made it legal there (and presumably still opposes it today). He’s anti-abortion as well, and during a quest to put pregnancy tests in bars and restaurants last March, he got a cavalcade of negative press attention for claiming that birth control is only used by “people who don’t necessarily want to act responsibly.”
Oh, and he’s one of a pack of Republicans who will likely help to mangle Erin’s Law, first introduced in 2014 and intended to create sexual abuse and sexual assault prevention programs in Alaska schools. It’s also known as the “Alaska Safe Children’s Act,” and it should be incredibly non-controversial.
But Senate Education Chair Mike Dunleavy, a Republican from Wasilla, attached two unrelated and pretty shitty riders to the bill: One would repeal a requirement that Alaska students take the SAT or the ACT. The other would allow parents to pull their kids out of any curriculum pertaining to sexuality, sexual health or sexual assault. Yep. The antithesis of Erin’s Law. Literally its dead opposite.
And now this deformed and bogged-down version of Erin’s Law is headed for the Senate Finance Committee, which Kelly co-chairs. Given that he’s a big fan of “parental choice” and against anything that smacks of liberalism, he’s likely to approve the new and much de-improved bill. (In fairness, Kelly once declared April to be Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Alaska, although it remains unclear if he wants us to do anything about it besides just be aware.)
Shannyn Moore, a columnist for the Alaska Dispatch News, as well as at least one popular local political blog, have suggested that it might be proper for Kelly to recuse himself from the debates, given that his son Devin, 30, is awaiting trial on charges of sexual abuse of a minor and indecent exposure. According to court records, Devin is charged with sexual abuse of a minor under 13 with penetration and indecent exposure for allegedly masturbating in front of a child under 16.
Both charges are felonies. They’re also not Kelly Jr.’s first brush with the law. He was charged with third-degree felony assault in 2012 for ramming his wife’s car with another vehicle. She was inside the car at the time. A news report said his wife told police Kelly cut her arm as he tried to break down the car door “because of an argument about a Kindle” before ramming her vehicle.
Devin Kelly has pleaded not guilty on the sexual abuse charges. His trial is set for December 2015. Alaska’s First Lady Donna Walker is urging the Senate to pass Erin’s Law immediately and without the riders.
State Senator Pete Kelly. Image via Facebook