Rep. David Eastman outmaneuvered Alaska House Speaker Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak) along with the Democratic controlled House that attempted to strip him of all his legislative committee assignments on Jan. 31.

Speaker of the Alaska House Louise Stutes talks with fellow lawmakers in Juneau on Jan. 31.

House leadership, comprised of mostly Democrats and a few Republican defectors, like Stutes, quickly called a Committee on Committees meeting Monday morning. The aim was to create a report recommending Eastman be stripped of his committee assignments because he is part of a 30,000-plus-member national organization called OathKeepers.

The group is comprised mostly of former or active military, law enforcement officers and first responders. Stewart Rhodes, the founder of Oathkeepers, and 10 other members have been charged by federal prosecutors with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, incident at the U.S. Capitol. Rhodes, who has no criminal history, and never entered the Capitol, has stated that he was communicating with members of his group on Jan. 6 in an effort to “keep them out of trouble,” He said a handful of OathKeepers who entered the Capitol “went totally off mission.” His trial is set for July.

The Committee on Committees, which includes Representatives Stutes, Bryce Edgmon (Nonaffiliated, Dillingham), Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage), Neal Foster (D-Nome), Kelly Merrick (R-Eagle River), Laddie Shaw (R-Anchorage) and Cathy Tilton (R-Wasilla) voted 5-2 to strip Eastman of his committee seats. Only Shaw and Tilton were opposed.

The Jan. 31 House session began with House Majority Leader Chris Tuck asking Stutes to accept the recommendation to pull Eastman from the following committees: Rules, Judiciary, State Affairs, Ways and Means and Ethics (as an alternate).

House Majority Leader Chris Tuck speaks on the House floor Jan. 31.

Before a vote of the full House could proceed, however, Eastman raised a technical objection by pointing out that Alaska Statute stipulates that the vote to remove him from the Ethics Committee requires a separate vote from that of all other committees. He said the recommendation on removing him from Ethics Committee should not be included in the Committee on Committees official report.

A visibly irritated Stutes then called an extensive “at ease” in which she and other legislators spoke at length before calling the House back to order to announce that the recommendation to strip Eastman of his assignments was being tabled.

Near the close of the meeting, several House Republicans came to Eastman’s defense, arguing that free speech and freedom to associate must be protected, even if one disagrees with a person’s positions.

Rep. Ben Carpenter (R-Nikiski) argued that Americans have the right to free speech and to associate with the organizations they choose, regardless of whether others agree.

“And I think on this day of all days, maybe we should continue to think about if you can remove somebody from a position because you don’t like what they say or what they think,” he said. “It’s only a matter of time before somebody else gets removed for some other non-popular topic.”

Rep. David Eastman listens as Ben Carpenter speaks, Jan. 31, in defense of the First Amendment during a speech in on the House Floor.

An impassioned Carpenter told his fellow lawmakers that they must defend the right of others to have political perspectives, even when we disagree.

“Because we are guaranteed by our Constitution with those God-given inalienable rights,” he added. “And that is what we protect with our oath of office.”

Rep. Mike Prax (R-North Pole) spoke next, telling his fellow legislators that they must defend the ability of members to speak out, a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

“Most important, if someone disagrees with me or I disagree with you, we have a right to speak,” he said.

House Majority Leader Chris Tuck then rose and proceeded to read from the Alaska Constitution in an attempt to justify imposing punishments on Eastman. He noted that the Alaska Constitution states: “No person who advocates, or aids or belongs to any party or organization or association, which advocates the overthrow, by force or violence, the government of the United States or of the states, shall be qualified to hold any public office of trust or profit under this constitution.”

He then said people don’t have the “right to do whatever you want. It really is the right to do what’s best.”

On Sunday, in advance of the House leaderships’ attempt to punish him, Eastman wrote a column explaining that he refused to condemn OathKeepers or “step aside” from the organization simply because a handful of people from the 30,000-member organization sought to tarnish its reputation.

“As your representative, I refuse to step aside and throw the law-abiding members of Oathkeepers to the cancel culture wolves,” Eastman wrote. “While those who break the law should be prosecuted, I refuse to condemn the more than 30,000 military veterans and first responders who have served our nation honorably, have never advocated for violence and, like me, would have intervened to stop the violence on January 6th if they could have. I refuse to say that these men and women are bad for joining an organization whose only requirement for membership is a commitment to honor the oath that we have each taken as public servants to support and defend the constitution.”

Eastman noted, “In any organization of size, you will have those who would tarnish the reputation of the organization if they could.”

He added that the only requirement for membership in Oathkeepers is “a commitment to honor the oath that we have each taken as public servants to support and defend the constitution.”

It is unclear how Stutes and the House leadership members will proceed with their goal of punishing Eastman. This is a developing story.


— Click here to contact Rep. Louise Stutes and all other members of the Alaska House of Representatives.

— Click here to watch the Jan. 31 House Floor Session.

Click here to support the Alaska Watchman.

Eastman outmaneuvers House leaders’ first effort to strip committee seats

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Charlie says:

    If they want to punish Rep. Eastman for the group he belongs to, Then where does it stop? Do we throw BLM members and gay and lesbian members ect. under the bus? This Cancel culture better reel itself back before this even gets going. My message to the Alaskan legislators is “grow up” and “act like adults”.

  • LeeWard says:

    Can these legislators be serious?? They dawdle and preen on the PFD issue AND reward themselves with a helluva lot of per diem. We need to check what organizations each of them has EVER belonged to and evaluate them according to their past and present associates to determine if we approve.
    Stewart Rhodes has only been accused. In my opinion, Oathkeepers is an upstanding organization, comprised of committed patriotic Americans.
    And, Mister Chris Tuck, are YOU the one who is going to decide “what’s best”? David Eastman is being attacked by a bunch of hyenas looking for someone to pounce on. The Alaska State Legislature is becoming almost as anti-American as the Congress in D.C.

  • Neil DeWitt says:

    It looks like to me from what you posted here we have a breach of protocol. It’s a violation under tge open meeting act to have a meeting that hasn’t been publicly noticed and more than three people attended.

    I say all 7(8) of them need to face charges on the open meeting violation immediately!

    • April Smith says:

      The legislature is exempt from OMA, I believe.
      “ As applied to the Alaska Legislature, the OMA, like the legislature’s Uniform Rule 22, is viewed by the court merely as a rule of procedure concerning how the legislature has determined to do business. While by its literal terms the OMA is applicable to the legislature, a violation of the OMA by the legislature will not be considered by the courts, absent infringement of the rights of a third person or violation of constitutional restraints or a person’s fundamental rights.25
      In 1994 the legislature enacted a law requiring itself to adopt guidelines applying open meetings act principles to the legislature.26 This was to have been done during the 1995 legislative session, but it has still not happened as of this writing.”

  • I Took The Oath says:

    Hmmm..Seeing this, as a career first responder, peace officer, and military vet, I’m now looking into joining Oathkeepers if that’s what it takes to keep leftists and RINOs from gaining positions of authority, if this is a demonstration of their elitist and power hungry attitude when they do…Good on Eastman! ⭐️ ⭐️

    • Bill m says:

      Same here! Group looks much like the oath keepers of the 1990’s (my neighbor belonged and told me about it). It was a group honoring oaths to God, and vows of marriage, in addition to the Constitution.

  • John J. Otness says:

    Most of our Legislature are puppet useful idiots of the communist party…

  • Ben Carpenter says:

    This tit-for-tat battle strategy inspires no one and hurts the conservative cause. How about an article focused on the team who supported their pariah and stood against the national onslaught? Republicans for good governance? This wasn’t never about Eastman. You making it so is blatantly self-serving.

    • Theresa says:

      Mr. Carpenter, perhaps there’s a broader perspective you’d be willing to submit as an article for The Watchman? I’m confused by your comment. How is it that proposing to remove Mr. Eastman from a bunch of committees is not about Mr. Eastman?
      When I read this article, I didn’t see Mr. Eastman’s actions as tit-for-tat but, rather, being as wise as a serpent, innocent as a dove…I think he should fight to maintain his committee positions and defend his rights, rather than rolling over and allowing the Left to cancel his voice.

  • Bill m says:

    Stripping people of their right to speak is a violation of the US Constitution. Why then does Alaska tolerate politicians who wish to punish their political opponents by doing exactly that ? Haven’t they, in reality, conspired to breach the US Constitution? Isn’t that a violation of their oath? Clearly, Louise Stutes is not an oath keeper!

  • Proud Alaskan says:

    These out of control cry babies the left,
    there in Juneau to lie, cheat and steal.
    Good for you Mr Eastman standing up to this Woke bull crap. We all agree to free speech Yours and our voices too.

  • Wardaug says:

    Make sure you contact these representatives! They need to know we are fed up with there involvement in the cancel culture cult!

    • Gunter Thompson says:

      Right, cancel culture, like the way you Christian conservatives want to cancel certain library books. Such hypocrisy!

    • Terry Tiree says:

      I’m fully on board with “cancelling” domestic terrorist Eastman.

      • John J Otness says:

        Yes GOD loving defenders the unborn surely are the ones who need listed as domestic. terrorists….. Thank You Terry
        your input is valuable as folks wake to the insanity. You are a guide to the mentality of the opposition.

  • Gunter Thompson says:

    “In my opinion, Oathkeepers is an upstanding organization, comprised of committed patriotic Americans.”
    They attempted to murder the Vice President and the Speaker. They are domestic terrorists. They pooped on the Capitol floor.

  • John - Wretched in Alaska says:

    Mr. Carpenter, this so called “tit-for-tat strategy,” is what this particular forum is for. Since we as citizens, patriots and constituents are without the privilege of attending our transparent legislature in person, due to covid restrictions, barred access or reasonable accommodations to allow public attendance, this is what we’re left with. Watching with utter amazement on KTOO, as the majority leader and speaker maneuver to try and terminate the effectiveness of a duly elected official, through choreographed sniping from across the room in partisan fashion. I’ve never seen a more spineless confrontation. But this is the collegiate way, the gentlemen’s approach to conducting civil warfare. Though I appreciate your floor contribution to the representative’s freedom of speech, chiding the Watchman for giving the readers a ‘play by play’ analysis, is no way to curry favor with the readership.