Rep. David Eastman called for a “sense of the House” to have all members vote Friday on whether the video of last week’s legislative beer-and-ping-pong party in the Terry Miller Building should be released to the public.
Speaker Louise Stutes immediately pounded her gavel and called an at-ease.
The at-ease went into a recess that ended up lasting hours, and when the House reconvened, Rep. Sara Rasmussen was gone, while the other two partying legislators, Rep. Zack Fields and Rep. Kelly Merrick remained to continue conducting business. A vote was taken to lay the sense of the House “on the table,” and a majority of members present agreed with that motion, including the two members — Fields and Merrick — who have starring roles in the video.
It’s fair to expect some legislator will pick it back up off the table on Monday.
The kerfuffle in the House arose after the beer-drinking, ping pong players brought in special members of the public to the gymnasium at the adjacent building for an evening of recreation that included leg wrestling. Must Read Alaska has a public records request filed to get a copy of that video.
No members of the public are allowed in the Capitol complex due to the Legislature’s own Covid precautionary rules. The public has been shut out of the seat of government for over a year.
Additionally, it’s now known that someone in the group gave a member of the public a key card to leave the party and return with more beer. It is against the Legislature’s rules to give a Capitol key card to anyone else.
Stutes has been trying to tamp down the scandal. The party itself is not noteworthy, as legislators are known to party, but allowing some people into the building to party, while excluding all other Alaskans from their Capitol, is the issue that has Fields, Rasmussen, and Merrick on the hot seat over their judgment.
Rasmussen and Merrick have apologized, but Fields has not and was heard loudly cursing Rep. Eastman’s name in the halls of the Capitol on Friday.