With this post, WC inaugurates a new recurring, semi-regular series: the worst of the worst in state legislatures, focusing initially on the Alaska and Idaho state legislatures. Neither WC nor his readers have high expectations for state legislators, but this series looks at the exceptionally appalling.
David Eastman represents the Susitna River Valley, Alaska.1 He’s serving his third term, re-elected by a very strong majority in 2020. WC has already written about Rep. Eastman’s thinly concealed racism,2 and the time he was censored by his colleagues for misogyny and racism. WC has also noted that Rep. Eastman co-signed an astonishingly stupid amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging other states’ election results in the 2020 Presidential election. Remember, Rep. Eastman claims to have “studied law.” And protests vehemently when he claims other states involve themselves in Alaska issues.
That’s all pretty bad, but the reason Rep. Eastman gets to be the first legislator held up for examination in this series is that he is a lifetime member of the Proud Boys. He attended the insurrection attempt in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021, although he claims he “didn’t go inside.”3
In a Facebook post the following day, Eastman said:
If you think that the members of Antifa, or any other groups who were assaulting police officers at the Capitol today, were doing so because of something said by the president, then you know neither Antifa nor the president.
Those who planned and carried out today’s attacks should be speedily identified and put before a jury of their peers for public trial so that our nation never again has to experience an attack at their hands.
The “Antifa” claim has long since been proven bogus. The list of nearly 800 indicted insurrectionists was uniformly composed of hard core Trump supporters, not Antifa bogeymen. Just ask any of the hundred-plus who have copped a plea. The first quote also hosts a nice Cherry Picking Fallacy, by focusing on some of Donald Trump’s statements and not those of the three speakers that preceded him, who were less implicit in their instructions to the crowd.4
Besides, according to Trump ally and sycophant House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R, Trump Apologists), Trump admitted “some responsibility” for the attempted insurrection. Rep. Eastman needs to try to keep up.
The second quote, though, takes us to the biggest reason Rep. Eastman is the subject of this blog post.
In the January 7, 2021 post, he is urging prosecution of the insurrectionists. But in response to the U.S. Department of Justice’s indictment of his fellow Proud Boys for the felony of seditious conspiracy, the Anchorage Daily News reports Eastman as saying:
“Politically-driven indictments out of D.C. during an election year are nothing new to Alaskans. The indictment against Ted Stevens disappeared once Mark Begich was elected. The January 6th commission’s narrative is falling apart, and with it the Democrats’ last hope of keeping their majority in Congress,” Eastman said. “I predict that narrative will continue to fall apart, regardless of how many indictments they put forward, and that Republicans win back Congress in November.”Anchorage Daily News, January 14, 2022
Pretty clearly, Rep. Eastman hasn’t read or didn’t understand the USDOJ indictment. It’s based on actual statements from and emails and text messages among Eastman’s fellow Proud Boys. That evidence is damning, detailing a seditious conspiracy. It should be deeply troubling that Rep. Eastman is abandoning the principles he claimed in his January 7, 2021 Facebook post now that we know those who “planned and carried out” the attacks are revealed to be his Proud Boy buddies.
The rest of the statement the Daily News attributed to Rep. Eastman is a mix of fallacy, half truths and irrelevancies. The conviction – not indictment – of Senator Steven’s didn’t “disappear.” The legal system Rep. Eastman is disparaging determined that witness misconduct, prosecutor error and four instances of prosecution misconduct justified setting aside the conviction. And Rep. Eastman conveniently ignores the convictions of much of the Republican membership of the Alaska Legislature in the same scandal. The entire argument is a “what about” fallacy, in any event. The issue today is what happened on and around January 6, 2021; not what happened in 2008.
The claim that the “January 6 Commission’s narrative is falling apart” is Eastman’s wishful thinking. There is no “commission;” there is a special U.S. House Committee. The evidence that committee is finding is moving closer and closer to Donald Trump. And the claim that indictments are politically motivated is not just false but pretty much antithetical to the oaths Rep. Eastman has taken, the oaths the Proud Boys claim to be defending. If Rep. Eastman really believed the indictments were politically motivated, he’d be rebutting the factual allegations they contain, providing admissible evidence, not cozying up, even indirectly, to the dangerous criminals who are his fellow Proud Boys.
Rep. Eastman’s conduct is shocking enough that some 70 of his fellow West Point graduates – not exactly a liberal group – have signed an open letter calling on Rep. Eastman to resign. They published the letter in the Frontiersman, the newspaper in Eastman’s district.
That came after Rep. Eastman authored a Facebook post comparing President Joe Biden to Adolf Hitler. And provided an approving link to a Holocaust denial site.
The Alaska Legislature has taken no action in response too Rep. Eastman’s recent conduct.
All of which makes Rep. David Eastman (R, District 10) the first subject to the Worst of the Worst series.
1 No, this is not former Governor Sarah Palin’s legislative district. It’s mostly a little north of Wasilla. Wasilla extends for along miles of the Parks Highway, although, to borrow Gertrude Stein’s phrase, there is no there there. The proximity does argue for lower expectations, from the basement to maybe a sub-basement. But David Eastman falls below even that adjusted, sub-basement level.
2 In 2019 the Alaska House considered a bill honoring Black History Month. The vote was 35-1 in favor. Yep, Eastman. Maybe “thinly disguised” is too generous. Rep. Eastman Rep. Eastman also voted against making Oct. 25 “African American Soldiers’ Contribution to Building the Alaska Highway Day.” And voted against a bill to establish May 31 of each year as Katie John Day, in recognition of the late Athabascan elder’s long legal fight for subsistence rights for Alaska Natives.
3 WC is reminded of the time that presidential candidate Bill Clinton was accused smoking marijuana in college. His response was that he “didn’t inhale”: a response that misses the point of the accusation.
4 WC wonders if the Mat-Su’s David Eastman is related to crooked lawyer John Eastman, also a speaker at the January 6, 2021 pre-riot rally, and author of the treasonous roadmap to overturning the 2020 presidential election?