David Eastman Excused from the Consequences


Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, in the House chamber on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019 at the Alaska State Capitol. (Loren Holmes / ADN)
Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, in the House chamber on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019 at the Alaska State Capitol. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

The Alaska Constitution was written in 1955, near the height of the anti-Communist hysteria that gripped the United States. It was the peak of the McCarthy Era. While the state constitution is mercifully free of much of the political baggage that attended that dark time, there are places where the hysteria plainly crept in. Article XII, Section 4, provides:

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.

WC brings up this obscure requirement because a number of Alaska citizens objected to the candidacy of David Eastman (R, Wasilla) for reelection, because Eastman is an admitted lifetime member of the Oathkeepers.

Readers will recall that the Oathkeepers do indeed advocate the violent overthrow of the United States, and, perhaps more significantly, have actually attempted such a violent overthrow. Ten members of the Oathkeepers have been indicted for seditious conspiracy, including the organization’s leader, Stewart Rhodes. All are accused in the January 6, 2021 attempted insurrection. Rep. Eastman has admitted he was in Washington, D.C. for former President Donald Trump’s rally that immediately preceded the attempted coup. But he claims he didn’t enter the Capitol Building.1

In fact, Rep. Eastman has accused the U.S. Department of Justice of political motivations in prosecuting the rioters and insurrectionists, calling the indictment of his fellow Oathkeepers “politically driven.”2 That in the face of overwhelming evidence, including the details of plans and videos of the entry and occupation of the Capitol by Eastman’s fellow Oathkeepers.

It’s very clear that Rep. Eastman “belongs to an organization” “which advocates the overthrow by force of violence of the government of the United States.” He’s a lifetime member of Oathkeepers. That organization not only espouses the overthrow of the government; they attempted that very thing. Shouldn’t Eastman be disqualified from membership in the Alaska House of Representatives?

The initial decision on whether David Eastman is disqualified from Alaska public office belongs to Gail Fenumiai, the Director of the Alaska Division of Elections. She determined,

[E]ven assuming these allegations are true, DOE has determined that they do not — without more — provide a basis to prevent Representative Eastman from running for state office.

WC doesn’t have the text of any analysis supporting Director Fenumiai’s conclusion, only the Associated Press report published in the Anchorage Daily News.3 WC suspects that there will be an appeal to the state courts. While WC has immense respect for Gail Fenumiai, it looks to WC like she got this one wrong.

Here’s a thought experiment: suppose Rep. Eastman was a member of the American Communist Party. Would Director Fenumiai have reached the same result? If not, why not? How is affiliation with a right wing terrorist group different?

For now, at least, candidate Eastman has dodged the legal bullet. And perhaps it’s only right that the Wasilla voters decide whether to return Oathkeeper Eastman to the state legislature. He is so singularly unpopular and ineffective there that, in a perverse way, he does the rest of Alaska a favor. But make no mistake: a person who is a member of an organization advocating and acting to overthrow the lawful government of the U.S. is a candidate for reelection. And David Eastman has been excused from the consequences of his piss-poor decisions.


1 You know, like former President Bill Clinton, who admitted he “tried marijuana” but “didn’t inhale.”
2 Rep. Eastman also blames the insurrection on Antifa and predicted the “January 6 Commission will fall apart.” Heh.
3 A search of the Alaska Division of Elections website fails to produce either the complaints filed by citizens or the decision by Director Fenumiai. It’s a very odd set of omissions.

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