Alaska Rep. David Eastman sits at his desk on the Alaska House floor on Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Juneau, Alaska. The House voted Thursday to remove Eastman, a Wasilla Republican, from committee positions after House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt indicated frustrations with Eastman within the GOP caucus. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

Alaska Rep. David Eastman sits at his desk on the Alaska House floor on Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Juneau, Alaska. The House voted Thursday to remove Eastman, a Wasilla Republican, from committee positions after House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt indicated frustrations with Eastman within the GOP caucus. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

Alaska House temporarily strips Eastman of committee roles

The Alaska House voted Thursday to remove Republican Rep. David Eastman.

  • By Becky Bohrer Associated Press
  • Wednesday, March 11, 2020 6:35pm
  • NewsState News

The Alaska House voted last Thursday to remove Republican Rep. David Eastman from his committee assignments, at least temporarily, suggesting a breaking point within his GOP caucus after recent dust-ups.

The caucus leader, House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt, said it will be up to Eastman to “work with others to show them he wants to be a strong member of the team.” Pruitt anticipated revisiting the issue in a month.

Eastman, an outspoken conservative from Wasilla, said he saw the vote as making an example out of him “so that others don’t step out of line, don’t take a position that others aren’t in agreement with, that sort of thing.”

He will be replaced on the House Judiciary Committee by Rep. Sarah Vance and the House Rules Committee by Rep. DeLena Johnson. Vance and Johnson are fellow minority Republicans.

Pruitt said he wasn’t interested in getting into all the details that led to the action against Eastman but said things had happened publicly and privately. He said concerns were raised with how some issues were framed on Eastman’s website and whether those “brought value to the institution.”

“Finally, people felt that we were at a point that we needed to take action,” Pruitt said in an interview.

Thursday’s vote, which was to accept a report making the committee reassignments, was 32-1, with Eastman the lone dissent. Seven members, including six from the minority Republican caucus, were absent or excused.

Eastman said he thought members were free to represent their districts, such as on a resolution that urged the minting of at least 5 million $1 coins honoring the late Alaska civil rights figure Elizabeth Peratrovich and efforts by the U.S. Treasury secretary to encourage businesses to accept the coins. Eastman was the Legislature’s lone vote against it. He said his district opposed it.

He described the measure in a post on his website under the header: “Juneau Swamp Shocker.” In another post, he called it a “big government program that has zero chance of success no matter how much money you spend on it.” The resolution was sponsored by Johnson, one of the minority’s leaders.

He argued a recent vote by House Republicans to confirm the House’s newest member, Rep. Mike Prax, should have been public, a position Pruitt did not agree with. Such votes typically have been held privately.

Eastman also frayed nerves during a recent floor debate when he proposed stripping from a budget bill funding for a legal judgment for a case the state lost to Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest.

Eastman tried to get into details from the case, despite Speaker Bryce Edgmon’s admonitions to stick to the budget issue.

When debate resumed after a break, Pruitt said the vote on the question had nothing to do with one’s position on abortion but whether the state would uphold an obligation to pay the sum. Eastman was alone in voting to strip the funds.

He was censured by the House in 2017 for comments he made suggesting there are women in Alaska who try to get pregnant to get a “free trip to the city” for abortions. Eastman, who has expressed concerns about use of state funds and Medicaid for abortions, said he was sorry for the comments.

In 2018, a legislative ethics panel said it found Eastman had violated ethics law by disclosing the existence of a complaint that was considered confidential. Eastman denied the allegation.

More in News

A boat is lifted out of the water at Northern Enterprises Boat Yard on Kachemak Drive. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Northern Enterprise Boat Yard expands business

Northern Enterprises Boat Yard, Inc., the largest privately owned dry dock marina… Continue reading

Krista Schooley (left) testifies before the Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education on Monday, June 7, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Screenshot)
A ‘groundswell’: Conservative coalition seeks to expand influence on school policy

The vision of KPCCC is to “restructure and build the foundation of the 7 Mountains of Influence in our society through conservative action.”

Setnetters make their way back to the beach near a site on July 11, 2016 near Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion, file)
Personal-use setnetting opening Tuesday on Kasilof

The hours for fishing in the restricted area of the Kasilof River on Tuesday are from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
‘A lot of work to do’: Officials hope for summer bounce in vaccinations

Zink said just six months ago she didn’t think the state would have as much vaccine stock as it does now.

A map shows the location of the Loon Lake Fire. (Photo from AK Fire Info).
Flight restriction issued over Loon Lake Fire, now 15% contained

The fire was first reported on Saturday evening.

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, talks during an interview in the Empire's offices. During the conversation, Young discussed ongoing infrastructure bill negotiations, the Arctic's strategic importance to the U.S. and why he's seeking a 26th term in the U.S. House of Representatives. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
The Empire sits down with Rep Young

We hit some of the wavetops of Young’s recent work.

The Alaska Grown logo.
Homer Farmers Market: Don’t forget Wednesday market

Food Hub also is an option for locally grown food.

A sign and road blocker at the head of the Hidden Creek Trail on Skilak Lake Road warns people about bear activity on Sunday, June 13, 2021 in Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Campers kayak to safety after Skilak bear attack

They were at the mouth of Hidden Creek along the shoreline of Skilak Lake

Most Read