‘You Should Not Be Allowed to Run the Government You Tried to Overthrow’


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A Final Attempt

But the push for accountability for Eastman wasn’t over. There was still another branch of government to consider, and pro-democracy activists in Alaska soon began calling on the state House to bar Eastman from the new Legislature when it convened in January.

And Alaska’s unique politics made Eastman’s fate even more uncertain.

The midterm election had left the 40-member Alaska House almost perfectly split between Democrats and Republicans, with a few independents aligned on each side. As the Legislature convened last month, neither party had been able to form a majority, and Eastman’s continued presence had the chance to tip the balance — but not in the way you’d expect.

Eastman is such a firebrand that Republican leadership couldn’t count on him as a reliable vote. Indeed, some liberal legislators resisted the calls for Eastman’s exclusion, preferring to see him keep his seat than be replaced by a politician more aligned with the rest of the GOP caucus.

“All the principles I care about, from the right to choose, to public schools, to timely food stamp payments would be damaged by a reconfigured Wasilla seat,” state Rep. Andy Josephson, an Anchorage Democrat, said in an interview.

Still, activists hoped that other Democrats would entertain a vote to disqualify Eastman from office.

But kicking him out would also require GOP support in the narrowly divided chamber. Would Republicans seize the opportunity to oust Eastman in favor of a more pliant member, or because his support for an insurrectionist group that helped fuel the Jan. 6 riot was finally a step too far?

As the Legislature convened, Scott Kendall, a well-connected Alaska attorney and political figure, wrote an op-ed pushing lawmakers to act.

Kendall had been chief of staff to former Gov. Bill Walker, a Republican-turned-Independent, and he noted that members of the House actually had two options for pushing Eastman out: They could expel Eastman on a two-thirds vote after he was seated or simply vote to exclude him at the outset of the coming legislative session by a simple majority.

Regardless of the judge’s ruling on Alaska’s disloyalty clause, Kendall argued Eastman’s ouster was required because he violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That’s a post-Civil War provision that disqualifies from office anyone who swore an oath to support the Constitution and then took part in or backed an insurrection.

A New Mexico judge used the “disqualification clause” last year to remove a county commissioner, Couy Griffin, from his position, after he was convicted of trespassing at the Capitol on Jan. 6. The Washington-based group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics helped lead the lawsuit challenging Griffin’s qualifications, and it included Eastman in a recent report as an elected official who deserved scrutiny.

“You should not be allowed to run the government you tried to overthrow,” Debra Perlin, CREW’s policy director, said in an interview, referring to Eastman. The legislative branch, she added, has to do its own “self-preservation.”

Or maybe not.

Ultimately, the Legislature moved on. Republicans cobbled together a majority and though they didn’t want Eastman in their club — he is not a member of any party caucus, and he was stripped of one of his aides — they declined to exclude or expel him from office.

Voting to deny Eastman a seat in the House likely would have incited a backlash from conservative activists. GOP House members were quick to hang up the phone when reached to discuss Eastman’s continued service in their chamber.

“The one thing I have no comment on is David Eastman,” said Anchorage Republican Rep. Laddie Shaw.

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( With inputs from : www.politico.com )

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