A Nesbett Courthouse hearing room was filled Tuesday with Alaska supporters of Rep. David Eastman, who is defending his right to be a member of a group dedicated to defending the U.S. Constitution, and still be able to serve as a lawmaker in the Alaska Legislature.
The crowd, some wearing shirts that read, “Elections by ballot, not by bench” had gathered to make a point to Anchorage Superior Court Judge Jack McKenna, who was weighing procedural questions. The complainants, who are trying to have the courts and the state Division of Elections disqualify Eastman over his membership in Oath Keepers, are attempting to keep the trial in Anchorage, rather than move it to Palmer, as requested by Eastman. Palmer is closer to where Eastman and the lead complainant, political activist Randall Kowalke, lives. Kowalke and the leftist Northern Justice Project that represents him also want the judge to make the decision, rather than to have a jury trial. Those decisions are pending.
The Oath Keepers is a national group with tens of thousands of members, mostly from law enforcement and military backgrounds. The leader of the organization, Stewart Rhodes, is associated with the Jan. 6, 2021 incident at the U.S. Capitol, where a rally got rowdy and some of the zealous Trump supporters went inside the Capitol and disrupted the certification of the 2020 election of Joe Biden to the presidency. Rhodes, and four co-defendants are on trial this month for committing seditious conspiracy by plotting to use violence to stop the transfer of power from President Trump to Biden. The evidence against Rhodes is mounting in his trial, which will resume Monday, but its unknown how many people knew what Rhodes was up to in the events leading to the Jan. 6 disruption. Oath Keepers is a loosely knit group of patriots who have sworn allegiance to uphold the U.S. Constitution.
McKenna has already ordered the Division of Elections to delay certification of House District 27 election results pending the result of the trial that he has already granted. But he also decided that Eastman could remain on the November ballot. The trial itself is currently scheduled for Dec. 12, although court dates often change.
The case is 3AN-22-07404CI at this link.