Alaska House to study Oath Keepers after failing to oust Rep. David Eastman from committees
JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - After failing to remove Wasilla Republican Rep. David Eastman from his committee assignments on Monday, a legislative committee is set to study the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group that’s founder was charged with seditious conspiracy for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Rep. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, will hold the first hearing into the Oath Keepers in the House Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee next Thursday. Requests have been made to the Anti-Defamation League to come and speak alongside congressional investigators into the Jan. 6 attack.
Tuck emphasized that these hearings are intended to be informational about the Oath Keepers instead of an investigation into Eastman, who is a lifetime member of that group. Members of the Oath Keepers could also potentially come and speak to ensure that the hearings are not one sided, Tuck said.
“Because there’s a lot of public attention towards this, so we’d just like to clear the air,” he added.
There has been a public outcry from some quarters about Eastman’s membership of the Oath Keepers and claims that it runs afoul of the disloyalty clause in the Alaska Constitution, which states:
“No person who advocates, or who aids or belongs to any party or organization or association which advocates, the overthrow by force or violence of the government of the United States or of the State shall be qualified to hold any public office of trust or profit under this constitution.”
Eastman has not denounced the Oath Keepers but he has spoken about going to Washington D.C. last January to protest the 2020 election results. No evidence has emerged that he entered the U.S. Capitol or engaged in any violent activity.
Eastman has been frustrated at this recent process to punish him and says that has lacked transparency.
“I’m glad for any opportunity for the public to be engaged, to know what the decisions are as we’re making them and not find out about them afterwards,” he said on Friday.
On Monday, a House committee voted to remove Eastman from his committee assignments, but that required a majority of House members to then approve that.
“It was very questionable whether we had the votes or not,” Tuck said.
On Monday, Rep. Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, doubted whether the votes were there. She emphasized at that time that Eastman hasn’t been indicted or charged with anything.
Republican House Speaker Louise Stutes and Tuck suggested the House moved a little too quickly against Eastman on Monday. Votes weren’t counted ahead of time, but some members of the bipartisan House majority still want to debate whether to expel Eastman from the Legislature, censure him or remove him from his committee assignments.
“And before we go down that avenue, we want to make sure we thoroughly examine the situation,” Stutes said.
When asked by Alaska’s News Source if the Eastman issue has become too much of a distraction, Stutes said, “Certainly it is. We have business to take care of.”
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