Alaska lawmaker has ties to group linked to Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol

Rep. David Eastman at a recent committee hearing.
Rep. David Eastman at a recent committee hearing.(KTUU)
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 3:22 PM AKDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2021 at 4:00 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - An Alaska lawmaker who has ties to an extremist group that was reportedly a large part of the violent Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol says he joined the group at its inception.

According to a report posted online by Buzzfeed News on Wednesday, Rep. David Eastman of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough is connected to the far-right group the Oath Keepers, which is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of the largest antigovernment groups in the country.

“I joined Oath Keepers when it first started and will always consider it a privilege to stand with those in the military and first responders who strive to keep their oaths to the Constitution,” Eastman wrote in an email to Alaska’s News Source on Wednesday. “I am not aware of a chapter in my state.”

Alaska’s News Source sent follow up questions clarify whether Eastman was still a member of the Oath Keepers and if he would keep or renounce his membership.

He responded in a text saying, “America needs men and women of courage who will stand by the constitution even, and especially, when they will be pilloried for doing so; my commitment is to the Constitution, not the president, or party, or group, or school. If each of our elected officials held to this simple commitment there would be much less to divide us as Americans.”

Buzzfeed and ProPublica obtained leaked Oath Keepers data that shows at least 28 elected officials have ties to the group, including Eastman.

The group describes itself as having members that have served or are currently serving in the military, police or emergency response who pledge to fulfill an oath to defend the Constitution against foreign and domestic enemies.

“While the enlisted oath does contain a pledge to obey the orders of the President and of commanding officers, that is still preceded by a pledge to ‘defend the Constitution,’ and is also qualified by the requirement that such orders be ‘according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice,’” the Oath Keepers’ website reads. “Any order, by anyone, that is not constitutional or according to regulations, is unlawful and military personnel are not obligated to follow such orders – and, in fact, are obligated to refuse.”

Eastman was in Washington, D.C. the day of Capitol riots. At the time, Eastman denied actually entering the Capitol.

“It’d be very difficult for me to understand the motivations of those involved,” Eastman told Alaska’s News Source back on Jan. 6, 2021.

According to Eastman’s representative website, he studied law at West Point and was a military police captain stationed at Fort Richardson from 2003 to 2011. He also led troops in Afghanistan, according to the website.

Eastman has long been known in Alaska politics to be the lone vote on many issues. He was the sole lawmaker to vote against honoring Black soldiers by naming Oct. 25 as African American Soldiers’ Contribution to Building the Alaska Highway Day.

Eastman was also the first Alaska House member to be censured for saying some women, including women who live in villages, are glad to become pregnant so they can fly to Anchorage using Medicaid funding for abortions.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional information.

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