Alaska House to investigate 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 tasked with studying the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia whose founder has been charged of seditious conspiracy for the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol.

Rep. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, will hold the first hearing on oath keepers in the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee next Thursday. Requests have been made for the Anti-Defamation League to come speak alongside congressional investigators on the Jan. 6 attack.

Tuck stressed that these hearings are meant to be informative about the Oath Keepers rather than an investigation of Eastman, who is a lifelong member of that group. Members of the Oath Keepers could also come in to speak to make sure the hearings aren’t one-sided, Tuck said.

“Because there’s a lot of public attention on this, we’d just like to clear things up,” he added.

There has been public outcry from some quarters over Eastman’s membership in the Oath Keepers and claims it violates the disloyalty clause of the Alaska Constitution, which states:

“No person who advocates, or aids, or belongs to any party, organization, or association which advocates the forcible or violent overthrow of the government of the United States or the state shall be qualified to hold public office as trust or profit under this constitution.

Eastman has not denounced the Oath Keepers, but he has spoken of traveling to Washington DC last January to protest the 2020 election results. No evidence has emerged that he entered the US Capitol or s engaged in violent activity.

Eastman was frustrated with this recent process to punish him and says it lacked transparency.

“I welcome any opportunity for the public to engage, to know what the decisions are as we make 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 it required a majority of House members to then approve it.

“It was very questionable whether we got the votes or not,” Tuck said.

On Monday, Rep. Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, doubted the votes were there. She pointed out at that time that Eastman had not been charged or charged with anything.

Republican House Speaker Louise Stutes and Tuck suggested the House moved a little too quickly against Eastman on Monday. The votes weren’t counted in advance, but some members of the House’s bipartisan majority still want to debate whether to expel Eastman from the Legislative Assembly, censure him or remove him from his postings. to the committee.

“And before we go down that road, we want to make sure we’re looking at the situation thoroughly,” Stutes said.

When asked by Alaska’s News Source if Eastman’s issue had become too distracting, Stutes replied, “Certainly. We have business to settle. »

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