In Democrat House, vote how they tell you to, or it's 'hate speech' - Must Read Alaska
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HomePoliticsIn Democrat House, vote how they tell you to, or it’s ‘hate speech’

In Democrat House, vote how they tell you to, or it’s ‘hate speech’

Rep. David Eastman, District 10, raised the issue of Medicaid abuse and has been censured by the Alaska House of Representatives.

TRIGGER WARNING: THIS MAY HURT FEELINGS

The writer Evelyn Beatrice Hall in Friends of Voltaire wrote, ” I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

The Alaska House of Representatives didn’t get the Hall memo.

Rep. David Eastman was today censured by the House for his remarks in an official capacity about the abuse of Medicaid and abortion by some women in Alaska.

He endured more than an hour of being called racist and sexist by Democrats on the House floor. And when the vote came down, it was 25 to 14 telling him just how hateful his colleagues think he is.

A handful of Republicans voted to censure Eastman, along with all of the Democrats and both of the Indie-Democrats.

Times have changed since Hall wrote the defense of speech in 1903. Feelings are now easily hurt. Political speech is no longer protected in Alaska’s Capitol unless it’s “correct” speech.

Freedom of conscience, freedom of opinion, freedom of speech, and the freedom to represent your constituency — these are things legislators now may be scolded for on the floor of the House of Representatives.

No Republican will be able to raise the issue of Medicaid abuse under this regime, or even ask for hearings on the topic. The topic of medical tourism on the public dime has been made toxic.

Freshman Rep. Ivy Spohnholz of Anchorage labeled David Eastman’s remarks as “hate speech,” and his actions as part of a “hate agenda.”

The term “hate agenda” has been widely used by the Left to describe the presidency of Donald Trump.

Rep. Ivy Spohnholz told the House that Rep. David Eastman had not been contrite enough about his remarks.

Spohnholz, an East Anchorage Democrat, lashed out at Eastman on the House floor, saying he had not apologized enough for his remarks about the abuse of Medicaid payments for travel by rural Alaskan women. He had not atoned for how much he had hurt people’s feelings, she said.

“A leader takes responsibility and ownership for those mistakes,” Spohnholz said. “They acknowledge the impact they’ve had on somebody else’s life, their feelings, their thoughts. They own them, and then they make amends. How do you make amends? You don’t say, ‘I’m really sorry that that made you feel bad.’ That is not making amends. Making amends needs to go a little bit further. You don’t say ‘You’re welcome to come to my office, and share your concerns and your perspective with me.’ That is not making amends.”

She went on: “When you make amends, you are internalizing the hurt that you inflicted on someone else. You have to go to the people that you’ve hurt and you have to try to understand their perspective and make it right. It means to mend, to put things back together again.”

In other words, legislators must give up their points of view in order to satisfy Spohnholz. She will be the one to determine what constitutes an apology.

Rep. Geran Tarr, another Anchorage Democrat, stated that Eastman not only said the wrong things, but he also voted the wrong way, and this showed pattern of bad belief and bad behavior. Eastman had voted against a resolution recognizing African-American contributions to the construction of the Alaska Highway, and against special license plates for Hmong veterans. The Hmong license plate bill was sponsored by Tarr.

During the discussion on those votes, Eastman said he is fundamentally opposed to race-based legislation. It is a matter of principle for him.

This afternoon Eastman was circumspect about his political learning curve: “I’ve never judged someone by the color of their skin. I wasn’t brought up that way,” he said. “Race politics is not a pleasant learning subject.”

On the floor as part of her closing remarks, Spohnholz said it was not about free speech. She called him racist and sexist, and said he had not taken responsibility for his behavior.

“Some people said, there was not bad behavior,” Spohnholz argued. “I’m going to disagree.” She went on to say that Eastman had made statements not only to a reporter, but then “…Our colleague doubled down on it and called for hearings. He brought that behavior into this hall.”

It’s the first time in Alaska state history that a House member has been censured, which is a nonbinding vote that indicates disapproval.

LEDOUX, RULES CHAIR, REMAINS SILENT

Earlier this year, Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, House Rules chair, advised members they may not use the terms “bureaucrat” or “slush fund.” Those terms were derogatory, she said.

She has made a habit of calling for points of order and preventing Republicans from speaking on the House floor, citing various infractions.

But today, LeDoux did not intervene while House members repeatedly impugned the motives of one of their colleagues.

The vote to censure has a chilling effect on free speech when a public body acts to curtail the speech of one of its members, said Tuckerman Babcock, chairman of the Alaska Republican Party. It is a governing body sending a stern warning shot over the bow of a fellow legislator, with an inference that other penalties could follow if the lawmaker does not toe the line.

“This is a bizarre step to try to repress someone’s freedom of speech, of thought, and even how they vote,” said Babcock.

“This is about public process,” said Eastman in an interview with Must Read Alaska. “I thought we were all Alaskans. I now know that some people believe that race separates us.”

House Republicans had already condemned the comments made by Eastman to a media outlet last week, with a brief statement that said his remarks on Medicaid and women seeking abortions had no factual basis and targeted women from rural parts of the state.

Today, the Republican minority issued a statement that said it still doesn’t like what he said, but members defended his right to speak out on issues that concern him:

“Never in the history of the Alaska House of Representatives has there been censure of a member. Censure is reserved for conduct that is damaging and disruptive to the legislative process or implicates a criminal act or ethical violation. Reprimanding a legislator for words spoken sets a dangerous precedent and infringes on freedom of speech.

“House Republicans continue to stand firmly opposed to the comments and sentiments expressed by Representative Eastman. Discrimination will not be tolerated by House Republicans. We will continue to embrace the diversity and spirit that makes our state stronger.”

 

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • This does not surprise me at all, anything the left disagrees with they label ‘racist’ or ‘hateful.’ Rep. Eastman could have phrased it better, but he is correct in saying there is Medicaid abuse in rural Alaska. It has nothing to do with race, it just so happens that the majority of rural Alaska is Native. If the majority was white, red, black or purple there would still be Medicaid abuse as he said. But it’s easier (and gets more press) to get indignant and get up there on your high horse and call names than it is to deal with the problem.

    • Thankfully there is no Medicaid abuse in Anchorage, you and Mr. Eastman are suggesting??
      Why suggest that rural women will angle for a flight to Seattle but Anchorage women will not?
      Why not suggest there may be travel abuse and call for a real study that will bring out facts and then let them speak for themselves.
      If Mr. Eastman had suggested another House member was doing something like this, he would have been interrupted by the Chair and told that representatives do not impugn the character or motives of other house members on the floor.
      Having the same standard for groups of citizens makes sense. We can all treat each other with respect, and still correct abuses.

      • You can count on there NOT being any study of Medicaid travel abuse in this administration, of which various healthcare groups are part owners. The dirty little secret is you cannot talk about how State money gets spent in those programs that are “special” to Democrat constituencies. When the Murkowski Administration had the audacity to suggest that there should be a finding of a medical necessity to take the next available flight before Medicaid would purchase a Y-Fare or 1st Class ticket you’d have thought they were proposing genocide.

        Neither of the people you’re being smartass and trying to smear said a word about whether or not there was Medicaid travel abuse or Medicaid abuse generally in Anchorage or elsewhere in urban Alaska; you stood up that straw horse, but since you brought it up, of course there is Medicaid abuse in Anchorage, but there is little reason to travel for treatment since Anchorage has become a mecca for overpriced doctors.

        I don’t know where Eastman got the notion that women willfully got pregnant so they could get a free trip to Anchorage, but he ought to know if you’re going to say something like that even if you have objective evidence, people like you and Kim Metcalfe are going to attack you. I do know that if somebody else is paying, a doctor will sign a leaf that blows in through the window. We all but gave up on asking for doctor’s excuses for absences of State employees because if the employee or in our case our insurance would pay for the office visit the employee could get the excuse and fill in the blank dates. I know when I was with BIA in the Eighties if we were doing workshops and the like in the urban areas we tried to always arrange all the travel under federal rules and buy the tickets for registered participants and would hold the workshop in a hotel where we could buy the rooms directly and provide vouchers for meals in the hotel. There was a reason we did that.

      • Lol. Is that what Sponholz did; treat Eastman with respect? Double standard as usual.

    • Why would there still be Medicaid abuse if the people were “white, red, black or purple?”
      Does this mean that people who live in rural areas are more dishonest than people who live in cities, regardless of race? So white rural people are more likely to commit fraud than their counterparts in the city?

  • Who were the Republicans that voted for censure?

  • I am so proud of the Democrats and Republicans who voted to censure Rep. Eastman today. When Rep. Eastman said women from Alaska “villages” get pregnant in order to go to Anchorage for an abortion he showed what a racist and sexist he is. I applaud those who have the guts to stand up to a racist, sexist Trump protégée. Trump may have given Rep. Eastman the green light to make statements against women and Alaska Natives, but Alaska’s House of Representatives let him know his kind of hate speech is not welcome or condoned in our state.

    • So it’s racist and sexist to talk about how native women get pregnant and go to Anchorage to get abortions? Why is it racist and sexist? Because he talked about it? Or because talking about it hurts someone’s feelings? Or because it’s true? People like you get more upset that a person spoke about a bad thing that happened, and you don’t get upset at the actual thing that is bad. Abortion is murder. And you only care to talk about how “racist” and “sexist” he is for calling it out. But you completely overlook the actual evil that has taken place, because you are more afraid of hurting a person’s feelings than you are concerned about real justice. Since when have Alaskans become so fickle and weakminded that the mere discussion of a topic makes them treat others with such disrespect? Name calling is not a way of fixing problems. Abortion is murder. Deal with that.

      • You lost me at “abortion is murder” and yes, it is sexist, racist and unethical to suggest that women from rural villages get pregnant on purpose in order to get a free trip to Anchorage, as if it were a vacation on the public dime.

        Just stop. Your comments and those of Rep. Eastman are wrong, and stupid.

        • How is abortion not murder? Unless you believe that the human being in a woman’s womb is not a human being. And if you believe that, then science is against you. Changing the name of a baby to “fetus” does not make that baby any less human. You are really a two-faced Leftist who is advocating for one person’s wants trumping another’s, meaning you are advocating for slavery – the right of one person to exert their will over another, even to the point of condemning the other person to death. You are sadly confused.

        • Wait, how is it racist, sexist, or unethical to suggest those women from rural villages abuse the system?

      • Yes who were the gutless republican Lemmings… all too soon this little irresponsible party of ignoring GODS laws and what he considers abominations is coming to an end,,, Child Murder which is abortion will be dealt with in the Courts of Heaven, The Village used to be one of the strongest supporters of life now the satanic liberal has turned them into remote ghettos, the most fierce independent people on earth bowing to the god of handout,,,this is LBJ,S nightmare of enslavement to the democrats by welfare and entitlement,,,, screw your feelings,,, grow up… I salute Eastman, He has conviction and not this paper thin piss ant whiny sniveling you owe me liberal stance,,

        • Wow, you are a woman you are not informed. Gods law has no place here. There is rape and incest in villages you dp not know what your talking about. When you become a woman who can be abused and raped by a man who no matter what is physically stronger than you, then you can have a voice!!!!!

          • I think that’s the point. Those of you who say “you can’t have a voice (until I say you can)” and those of us who say “you have a voice (and no one can take it away from you)”.

    • You are both ignorant and a fascists to impede the constitutional right of free speech or does free speech only apply to the left. Rep Eastman is stating what he believes is the problem with Medicaid fraud in this state and other states. You blatantly speak out against hate speech but the Democrats on the floor of the peoples house did just that. Anyone who does not believe free speech for all needs to leave the country and go find another country to live in.

  • I was glad to see that kind of unsubstantiated, racist nonsense rejected.

  • I ask the legislature to ask for an audit of the “no-shows” in Medicaid. The Commissioner/DHSS, Val Davidson, already has the tools in her toolbox to do the audit under SB74. This tool is used mostly to uncover Medicaid fraud by providers and has uncovered many dollars of abuse. Now the commissioner needs to do an audit of “no-shows” by month and region. It is taxpayers’ money that is being wasted and it decreases Medicaid support for those who truly need Medicaid–single parents, low income seniors and disabled–the intent of the original Medicaid program. Legislators, let’s do the audit. Show some political courage and will.

  • I salute freedom of speech, condemn the ignorant who attempt to stifle same, while acknowledging the inconvienient truth that started this flurry of outraged snowflakes guided as lawmakers.

    I have NEVER in my 5O Alaskan years seen anything that even vaguely resembles a credible audit of the Alaska Medicaid system. Or the welfare system. Or the Office of Child Services. Or the House, Senate, etcetera.
    The lacking any creditable audit list, most lamely, is no shorter then the list of corresponding government offices.

    Accountability doesn’t provide for kickbacks so so why would that ever be advocated.

    Oh, and by the way babies, didn’t your mom as ever tell you the old addage about “sticks and stones”? This never ending butthurtness is as stupid as it is unproductive. Coming from out supposedly educated elected officials it is absolutely embarrassing and disgraceful.

    INCONVIENIENT TRUTH

  • The problem with Eastman’s statements was that he offered no evidence to back them up. He seemed to just be repeating rumors about “folks” out in the “villages”. If his claims are true he needs to be ready to back them up with some kind of evidence. The censure has no real effect on his freedom of speech…he can still say anything he wants. But if he wants to regain his credibility he needs to get his ducks in a row before mouthing off like that…

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