The Alaska House of Representatives’ leftist majority today voted to move a “Sense of the House” condemnation against Rep. David Eastman of Wasilla into the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, which already has a hearing scheduled to investigate the veterans’ group known as the Oath Keepers.
The Sense of the House, offered by Rep. Grier Hopkins of Fairbanks, says that Eastman has spoken about government Covid-19 vaccine and mask mandates and compared them to actions taken by the Nazis during the Holocaust, a comparison he finds “offensive and unacceptable.”
Undaunted, on Thursday during the House floor session’s “Special Orders” part of the agenda, Eastman made comments comparing vaccine mandates to events that led up to the Holocaust.
The House spent more than a half an hour on the question of whether the Sense of the House should be sent to committee or debated and voted on the floor right then and there. There clearly were not the votes to pass it on the floor.
The vote to send it to committee was 21-17, with Republican Rep. Kelly Merrick from Eagle River voting with her fellow Democrats, who control the House. Merrick joined the Democrat-led majority last year. Republican Rep. Steve Thompson was absent from the floor during the vote, and Democrat Rep. Ivy Spohnholz had an excused absence.
Eastman, who rose to make several points of order during the extraordinary proceedings that were operating far outside the Mason’s Manual rule book, said the matter — even if it was an attack on him — deserved debate on Wednesday on the floor, not to be buried in a committee.
The Military and Veterans Affairs Committee has scheduled a hearing to attack the Oath Keepers, scheduled for Thursday under the committee’s chair, Democrat Rep. Chris Tuck. Rep. Eastman is a member of the Oath Keepers, some of whom were arrested but not yet convicted for actions taken on Jan. 6, 2021 as Congress was certifying the Electoral College. Eastman, while in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, stayed far away from the Capitol.
It’s clear that along with the scheduled hearing on Oath Keepers, and now the insertion of the Sense of the House, the committee is engaged in a McCarthy-style inquisition.
The hearing on Thursday will feature Alex Friedfeld with the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. He will talk in depth about the Oath Keepers and the militia movement in the United States. Friedfeld is a former New York City police officer and has a masters degree in security studies from George Washington University.
Hour 2 of the hearing will include a presentation from Jon Lewis, a research fellow at George Washington University who previously worked as a research assistant at the International Institute for Counterterrorism and the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. He has written an article about the Oath Keepers and their role in the Jan. 6 break-in at the U.S. Capitol.
In January Lewis co-wrote a scathing article on Oath Keepers in a blog called Lawfare.com.
The Legislature has been in session for 23 days. In recent weeks, the House Democrats tried to strip Eastman from all of his Committees, but that effort failed to win enough votes to move forward, since it would have required more than a simple majority. Several House Democrats want to have Eastman expelled from the House altogether, but they can’t muster the votes to accomplish that mission.
In the past, the Democrats have censured Eastman for statements he made to the media about the role of Medicaid, pregnancy, and rural Alaskans getting government-paid trips to the city. That made some Democrats so mad they demanded he apologize, which he refused to do.
Eastman unsuccessfully called for a Sense of the House over a beer and ping-pong party that legislators on the Left engaged in during the Capitol’s Covid shutdowns in 2021.