Despite intense public pressure, the Alaska House doesn't currently have enough votes to punish a Republican lawmaker who reportedly is a "life member" of the Oath Keepers militia group.
Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, attended former president Donald Trump's Stop the Steal rally on Jan. 6, but it's unclear if he participated in the subsequent assault on the Capitol, and he has not been charged with any related crimes.
Members of the Alaska House have been debating whether Eastman's Oath Keepers membership violates a clause in the state Constitution prohibiting elected officials from joining “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.” Eleven members of the Oath Keepers, including leader Stewart Rhodes, are charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection.
"Twenty-one votes in the 40-person House are needed to remove Eastman from legislative committee assignments, and 27 are needed to expel him from the House — an act that would be unprecedented in the history of the House," the Anchorage Daily News reports. "No members of the House’s 18-member Republican minority have said they support action against Eastman, and some members of the House coalition majority also oppose action under the disloyalty clause."
Lacking the votes to punish Eastman, House Majority Leader Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, plans to instead hold a public hearing about the Oath Keepers. Tuck is inviting testimony from experts who've studied the group — as well as members themselves.
Michael Patterson, an organizer for a group called Expel Eastman, isn't satisfied. “David Eastman, he’s dangerous. He represents dangerous ideological beliefs, and he’s using his position and platform to propagate those ideas,” Patterson said. “The public is paying attention to this, and people are rightfully upset about this, and I don’t feel like we’re being listened to."