David Eastman: Progressives weaponize Legislative Ethics Committee against conservatives

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David Eastman

By REP. DAVID EASTMAN

At 1:30 pm Thursday, my attorney and I are scheduled to appear before the Legislative Ethics Committee for yet another ethics hearing.

The window for public comment will be short, opening briefly around 9 am and again at 1:30 pm. Details to participate in the public comment period during the meeting have been posted online.

My left-wing accuser, who files numerous complaints against me, and who the committee has worked very hard to keep hidden from public view (in violation of the Open Meetings Act), has accused me of raising campaign funds during the legislative session in Juneau.

They waited to file the complaint until the first week that legislators could file for office for the 2024 election. In past years, like other legislators, I would have become a candidate for public office that week and could potentially have then run afoul of campaign fundraising restrictions during the legislative session.

Only, last year I did not file for office that week. When the complaint arrived accusing me of participating in campaign fundraising, I informed the Ethics Committee that I could not have engaged in campaign fundraising because I had not filed for office, and of course do not have a campaign. Further, as I am not a candidate for office, and have not filed a letter of intent to become a candidate, I don’t have a bank account to send campaign donations to.

When the complaint arrived, it should have been immediately dismissed because…I am not a candidate.

Further, there is no prohibition on receiving donations for a legislator’s Legal Defense Fund during the legislative session. Legal bills come due and must be paid, whether the legislature is in session or not.

Note: The complaint was filed on the 5th of May last year. It has now been 11 months. Instead of dismissing the complaint, which is obviously erroneous, back in May, the Ethics Committee instead hired an attorney and an investigator to pursue these false accusations, all at public expense of course.

Now, eleven months into its investigation, the committee has held numerous hearings, pursued a subpoena to compel me to testify against myself under oath, and repeatedly ignored state law in order to keep alive a complaint that was obviously dead-on-arrival back in May.

All of these things have taken time away from my family and my constituents, and are designed to continue to delay my filing for office in the next election. Also, each time the committee declines to follow the law in order to continue a politically-motivated prosecution, I risk incurring additional legal expenses in order to defend my rights and the rights of my constituents.

This is the function of the Legislative Ethics Committee today, to harass legislators and discourage them from running for re-election, as they were successful in doing to Sen. Lora Reinbold in the last election.

If this upsets you, I invite you to participate in the public comment period during Thursday’s committee meeting, and to make a donation toward my Legal Defense Fund, which was created for situations exactly like this one.

https://www.givesendgo.com/legaldefensefordavideastman

I am far from the only conservative legislator to be targeted by the committee. When I served on the Ethics Committee myself several years ago, I observed this exact same pattern taking place when the committee spent three years targeting another Republican legislator without cause.

If you have not already done so, I invite you to read the article following this message, in which I describe what conservative legislators are up against. Note: It isn’t pretty, which is why there are so few of us left here in Juneau today.

Even so, these abuses must be fought. Capitulating to those on the left and their continued efforts to cancel conservatives in all parts of society is not an option. This battle must be fought, and it must be won. I am committed to doing everything in my power to ensure that the next generation, including my own children, will not live as second-class citizens in their own country.

***

Weaponization of Legislative Ethics Committee

With state budgets currently in the tens of billions of dollars, you might expect a certain amount of corruption in politics. Elections are supposed to tamp down that corruption to acceptable levels, but what happens when you bypass elections in order to “fight corruption in politics” and end up with a law enforcement agency controlled by hyper-partisan, decades-long appointees who will never have to run for office?

Such is the case with Alaska’s “non-partisan” Legislative Ethics Committee, the only committee in the legislature comprised of a majority of members who never have to seek election. Consequently, it is also the committee over which Democrats and progressives exercise the most control, regardless of what happens on Election Day.

In 2024, Republican voters outnumber Democrat voters in Alaska 2-to-1. On the Legislative Ethics Committee that situation is reversed, with Democrats and former Democrats outnumbering Republicans more than 2-to-1 on the committee.

Over the years, this one committee has done more to maintain the power of progressives in the legislature than any other committee. They harass legislators, drag them through years-long legal proceedings, either initiated by members of the committee or by left-wing activists, and then make targeted legislators pay the full cost of their own defense, even when they are found innocent of all charges.

If legislators are ever deemed “too conservative” for Juneau, sooner or later they will be hauled before the Ethics Committee, which will then be used to help convince them to either be less conservative or to exit the legislature. If you want to know why Sen. Lora Reinbold did not run for re-election, you need look no further than what she experienced at the hands of our “non-partisan” Ethics Committee. 

In 1992, the last year that Democrats held a majority in the state House and were also able to keep a Democrat speaker of the house in office, legislators passed Senate Bill 185. Overnight, the Ethics Committee went from a majority of its members being selected by the legislature, to a majority being selected by the Chief Justice of the Alaska Supreme Court. This change effectively granted permanent control of the committee to progressives. Consequently, the “non-partisan” committee that currently has the most control over your elected legislators is also the most partisan committee in the Alaska Legislature, and has been for years.

Legislators have the ability to correct this by refusing to confirm partisan appointees to this committee. Unfortunately, many legislators opt not to rock the boat and vote to simply rubber stamp these appointees, year, after year, after year, no matter how partisan the appointees are.

Notionally, two legislators sit on the committee whenever the committee is performing its law enforcement function. However, legislators are barred from serving in leadership roles on the committee, serve shorter terms of office than their public member counterparts, and are often called upon simply to affirm the decisions made by the public members.

There are five public members of the Ethics Committee and one alternate, all of whom are appointed by the chief justice. Three of the six appointees are either current or former Democrats.

There are no Republicans.

Knowing this, perhaps it should come as no surprise that every investigation published by the committee since 2020 has exclusively targeted some of the most conservative legislators in the house and senate.

This is what conservative legislators are up against in Juneau today.

Of the six appointees to the committee, five signed the petition to recall Governor Dunleavy before the first list of 49,000 signatures was turned in to the Alaska Division of Elections. The only public member of the committee whose name did not appear on that initial list of signers was Joyce Anderson, a progressive activist who is currently suing the Dunleavy administration with the help of the ACLU.

When it comes to campaign donations, none of the six appointees to the committee have ever donated to Michael Dunleavy. By way of contrast, one member of the committee, Conner Thomas, made more than a dozen donations to Dunleavy’s opponents.

This is not simply a short-term problem. Most of the public members of this committee have either served on the committee, or been employed by the committee, for more than twenty years. The attorney hired by the committee has been on contract for more than twenty years as well. The one contract investigator hired by the committee has a tenure that spans decades as well. I’m sure you get the picture.

Conner Thomas is a lifelong Democrat who was first appointed to the Ethics Committee in 1998 as an attorney and a member of the ACLU. He has served continuously on the committee for more than twenty-five years. While a member of the Ethics Committee, he signed the petition to recall Governor Dunleavy. While a member of the Ethics Committee, he donated to Democrat and progressive causes more than twelve hundred times.

In addition to donations to the Alaska Democratic Party, he has also donated to groups like Stop Republicans and the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee (SDCC), whose goal is to increase the number of Democrats in the Alaska Legislature. He has been elected Chair of the Ethics Committee by his fellow committee members numerous times. He most recently chaired the Ethics Committee in 2022.

Skip Cook is a former Democrat who was first appointed to the Ethics Committee in 1997 as an attorney with a master’s degree in political science. He has served continuously on the committee for more than twenty-six years. While a member of the committee, he signed the petition to recall Governor Dunleavy. After working as an elections supervisor, he was a registered Democrat for more than 23 years before switching to Non-Partisan. During his confirmation hearing, he could not remember being a member of the Democratic Party.

He most recently chaired the Ethics Committee in 2023. During his confirmation hearing, it was stated that the Ethics Committee supports his reappointment for the sake of “continuity”. Were he to be reappointed and serve another four years on the committee, he will have continuously served on the Ethics Committee for more than thirty years.

Joyce Anderson was first hired by the Ethics Committee in 2001. She has worked for, or been appointed to, the Ethics Committee for twenty-three years; and sometimes both at the same time. She has also been an officer in the progressive League of Women Voters for the last twenty-four years. She is currently suing Lieutenant Governor Dahlstrom and the Alaska Division of Elections with the help of the ACLU.

As chair of the Anchorage Election Commission, she was credited with helping bring vote-by-mail to the Municipality of Anchorage. While a member of the Ethics Committee, she has pushed for the legislature to adopt automatic statewide vote-by-mail. While appointed to the committee, she accepted a $50,000 government contract from her fellow committee members. When asked during her confirmation hearing whether it was appropriate to accept a contract from the committee while appointed to the committee she explained that the committee had (retroactively) granted her a temporary leave of absence and she did not see a problem with it.

When asked by her fellow committee members what her hourly rate was under her contract, she replied that she did not know. When asked during her confirmation hearing what her hourly rate was, she refused to answer. Upon closer review, her contract was instead employment as a legislative employee with full benefits and an hourly rate of more than $60/hr. She was elected Chair of the Ethics Committee in 2019, and as chair of the subcommittee that investigates members of the House of Representatives in 2023.

Jerry McBeath is a former Democrat who was first appointed to the Ethics Committee as a Non-Partisan in 2020. He is a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and ran unsuccessfully for the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly in 2017. Before that he served as President of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School Boardwhile a Democrat. He signed the petition to recall Governor Dunleavy. While appointed to the Ethics Committee, he donated to Yes on 2 (Ranked Choice Voting). Between 2014 and his appointment in 2020, he donated to five candidates for the legislature, all of them Democrats.

These four appointees make up a majority of the committee entrusted with investigating and prosecuting members of the Alaska Legislature. Even without the support of the fifth member or one of the legislative members, these four decide who in the legislature will be investigated, prosecuted, and found guilty by the committee.

Members of the Alaska House of Representatives will soon be voting on whether or not to allow two of these appointees (Skip Cook and Joyce Anderson) to serve up to four more years on the Ethics Committee.

This will be an important vote to watch.

Please reach out to your legislator immediately to ensure that he or she gets it right.

24 COMMENTS

  1. If one wants to find the definition of “Democrat” in the dictionary, look under hypocritical. They crow on and on about freedom, choice and most of all – DEMOCRACY!! So what do they do? Try like heck to cancel, discourage and silence any opposing viewpoint they can because they all think they’re God and their viewpoint is 100% factual. Gotta admit though, they’re smart. They use the judicial system and tax funded resources to be the quintessential fly in the ointment. It’s all part of their political maneuvering.

    • The consensus view of the Left is that democracy cannot function if people who disagree with them are allowed to participate in it.

  2. Maybe, just maybe if you were capable of not being a pompous backside some of the time,

    You might not be such an easy target.

  3. want to see a train wreck?
    drive through Mt.View on the east side!

    Holy cow what a disaster!
    That needs a news story, ASAP!

  4. Voting no on needed legislation and promoting pro life legislation that conflicts with the Alaska Constitution is not unethical, nor is being at the US Capitol on January 6th. Your constituents get what they elect, a nothing burger

  5. Courage, Sir. Thank you for your editorial here, and MANY THANKS for constant conservative, genuine efforts in the legislature. You are a man among men, and a man for our time.

  6. We all have a constitutionally guaranteed right to face our accusers. The Constitutions, both the U.S. and State of Alaska’s, place no limits on that. These usurpers fully deserve to be punished for their willingness to assume and exceed authority that is beyond anything having been granted to them.

  7. I agree with all of the other positive comments. Rep Eastman has been upholding the constitution and represents his constituents as all reps should be doing. What kind of closet skeletons did the evil find on all of the other reps that is being held over their heads so that they won’t do the job that their constituents are asking them to do? May our Heavenly Father’s blessings been two-fold for Rep Eastman and his family and prayers for his continued strength in this battle.

  8. What would be good is if Representative Eastman was able to work with his fellow Republicans and effect change, instead he chooses to work against them and wallow in the mire and play the part of the martyr.

  9. The above epistle is a story of political tyranny in action. That is, politicians using the judiciary to actively persecute their target, Eastman. The persecution is purely ideological. Its not as if Rep Eastman committed any true malfeasance or posed any threat. Rather, it appears the targeting merely on account of his outspoken opposition to their ideology. In other words, this entire affair is driven purely by politics….. to the level of being criminal in its own right.

    To the Legislative Ethics Committee: please stop this nonsense immediately. You are disgracing yourselves; this is an embarrassment to our State.

    • Legislative Ethics Committee please stop the nonsense and follow the Uniform Rules faithfully that apply to all Legislators.

      Governor Dunleavy writes in his letter about the Constitutions, Uniform Rules and Legislature Professional Workplace Conduct Policy.
      Governor Dunleavy’s letter ‘https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/20488288/021821-senator-reinbold-ltr.pdf
      Legislature Professional Workplace Conduct Policy ‘https://www.akleg.gov/basis/get_documents.asp?session=30&docid=56186

      All Legislators follow the Uniform Rules. ‘https://w3.akleg.gov/docs/pdf/uniform_rules.pdf

      What happened to SB14 Selection and Review of Judges that was sponsored by Senator Shower introduced 1/22/21? Rule 24 (a) of the Uniform Rules applies to SB14 “A committee acts on all bills referred to it and reports its actions and recommendations…” Alaska needs judicial reform!

      Legislative Ethics Committee, the Uniform Rules apply to all Legislators.

  10. The Andre MacLeod Model. Cheap. Easy. Feeds the Leftist Media. A hugely effective Leftist tactic easy for the right to use against the left, but which hasn’t yet been used.
    The right is really, really slow…………

  11. The behavior of the hostile Alaska legislature is antithetical to their oaths to secure the rights of Alaskans and defend the US Constitution.

  12. Playground politics has no place in an ethical society regardless of which party rules the roost ! An Awakening comes when what these members face their evil in the mirror… Truth has only one resolve to follow it. David your maker is on your side, beside you stand with dignity. Thank you Wayne, reason out weighs excuses and truth only has one path.!

    • No playground politics! Which Branch of government protects Alaska citizens constitutional rights? If none, then Alaska definitely needs SHERIFFS as well as JUDICIAL REFORM.

      1. Legislative Branch is the strongest branch and makes the LAWS. The Legislature by 2/3 vote can amend the Alaska Constitution. In the State Legislature Uniform Rules I researched a “pocket veto” but couldn’t find any information ‘https://w3.akleg.gov/docs/pdf/uniform_rules.pdf When is a “pocket veto” used within the Legislature? Rule 45 and 47 doesn’t define “pocket veto.” Does “pocket veto” mean it was put in someone’s pocket or the bill was put in the bottom someone’s desk drawer? What happened to SB14?

      2. Executive Branch. The Attorney General’s client is the State and his/her first allegiance is to the public interest. Should Alaska citizens elect an Attorney General? Presently the Attorney General is under the Executive Branch, the Governor. Alaskans need to elect an Attorney General and Sheriffs.

      3. Judiciary Branch. Chief Justice Winfree in his State of the Judiciary – February 1, 2023 talked about the Alaska Constitution and on pages 8-9 talked about one of his few recollections of law school classwork…the law as riverbanks…political branches…can’t jump over or unilaterally change those riverbanks… ‘https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/23595894/soj-february-1-2023.pdf Which branch of government is watching the riverbanks to ensure truth and justice exists for all Alaskans? Again, Alaska needs Sheriffs.

      In Ed Martin’s Power Point Presentation he discusses the Alaska Statutes and the purpose of bonds. Mr. Martin also addresses judicial officers and bonds in his presentation. The presentation is approximately 30 minutes in length.

      The Alaska Legislature Uniform Rules must be followed but when the Uniform Rules are not followed what recourse is there to remedy, make right the error such as “pocket veto” that is not mentioned in the Uniform Rules? Is a “pocket veto” and ethics issue or legal issue?

      Are our Legislators that are voted by the people for the people watching the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches of government? Again, Alaska needs Sheriffs.

      No playground politics. Alaskans, please contact your Senators and Representatives (calling, emails, meetings at their offices) and voice your concerns to ensure that there is a process known to all Alaskans and that truth and justice is paramount for every Alaskan.

      To ensure justice and truth prevail for every Alaskan, the Constitutions, Alaska Statutes, Uniform Rules, Criminal Rules, Court Rules, Canons, The Uniform Rules, etc., must be followed to avoid an injustice to anyone.

  13. Keep up the good work Dave. We will continue to support and pray for you. The Lord knows the truth and justice is coming for the liars and deceivers. Their actions are treason against our citizens and country.

    Hey Dave, how about a run for Governor? Governor Eastman has a nice ring to it!

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