Anchorage Superior Court Judge Jack McKenna denied a request by Alaska State Rep. David Eastman (R-Wasilla) to dismiss a lawsuit aimed at disqualifying him from holding public office due to his affiliation with the national Oath Keepers organization.

McKenna’s Dec. 9 order rejected Eastman’s arguments that the judge should throw out the case because the court does not have jurisdiction to hear it, plaintiff Randall Kowalke does not have standing to bring the suit, and that the State Legislature, which is not party to the suit, is actually indispensable to the case.

McKenna’s denial of Eastman’s arguments means the trial will begin on Monday, Dec. 12, in Palmer.

Eastman was reelected to the State House for the fourth time by Mat-Su voters in last month’s general election, but his victory has not yet been certified due to McKenna’s order that the Division of Elections delay certification until after the case challenging his qualifications is resolved.

At issue is whether Eastman’s affiliation with Oath Keepers is sufficient to disqualify him from holding any public office in Alaska. The Alaska Constitution’s loyalty clause bars individuals from holding office if they belong to a group that “advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the United States or of a State.”

McKenna said Alaska’s statutes “create a role for the executive and judicial branches in administering and reviewing elections, including whether a candidate is qualified for office.”

A former Mat-Su Assemblyman, Kowalke asserts that Oath Keepers is an insurrectionist group and that membership in it violates the Alaska’s loyalty clause. His allegation hinges on the fact that some members within the larger Oath Keepers organization were involved in violence that unfolded on Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol. He claims there is evidence that Oath Keepers as an organization promoted this activity.

The group, however, is comprised of an estimated 38,000 loosely connected members, many of whom include law enforcement officers, first responders and military veterans. Eastman’s attorney, Joe Miller, has pointed out that Oath Keepers, as an organization – regardless of the action of some of its members – does not advocate for the violent overthrow of the government, and neither has Eastman.

In asking Judge McKenna to reject the lawsuit outright, Eastman argued that the court lacks jurisdiction to decide the case because the Alaska Constitution grants the Legislature exclusive authority to judge the qualification of its members.

McKenna, however, said that Alaska’s statutes “create a role for the executive and judicial branches in administering and reviewing elections, including whether a candidate is qualified for office.”

Next, McKenna rejected Eastman’s claim that Kowalke has no standing to bring the lawsuit because he can’t point to any specific harm and is not even a member of House District 27, which Eastman represents.

McKenna said Kowalke’s attorneys have presented the minimum requirement to at least show there is a “genuine factual dispute” over whether Oath Keepers advocates for violent insurrection.

McKenna sided with Kowalke, who claimed he had standing because “all Alaskans are empowered by statute and regulation to bring eligibility complaints, and all Alaskans have an interest that would be harmed if an unqualified individual served in the state legislature.”

McKenna’s order then rejected Eastman’s claim that that the case should be dismissed because the State Legislature is an “indispensable party to this action,” and that the court would need to order the Legislature to remove Eastman from office, if Kowalke prevails.

Since the Legislature is not named as part of the suit, Eastman said it should be tossed out.

McKenna countered with the argument that the Division of Elections has not yet certified the election results (due to McKenna’s own order) and that if Kowalke wins, the court could “order the Division to re-tabulate the results and declare a different winner in House District 27.” Additionally, McKenna claimed the court has the power to “enter a permanent injunction barring Eastman from office until such a time as he is no longer disqualified from holding public office” for violating the disloyalty clause.

McKenna’s order continued by partially granting Eastman’s request that the Alaska Constitution’s loyalty clause be interpreted and applied throughout the lawsuit in a way that is consistent with the protections afforded by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

McKenna agreed that Alaska’s loyalty clause could only be applied to speech or actions that are “not protected by the First Amendment.” He then noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has distinguished between “advocacy and teaching of concrete action for the forcible overthrow of the Government,” which is not protected, and speech related to “principles divorced from action,” which is protected by the First Amendment.”

In order for Kowalke to prevail in his claim that Eastman violated Alaska’s loyalty clause, McKenna said he must show that Oath Keepers is an organization that “advocates concrete action to overthrow the government of the United States by force or that they have actually engaged in such conduct.” Kowalke must also show that Eastman “aids or belongs” to Oath Keepers, McKenna added.

The judge’s order ended by countering Eastman’s argument that the case should be tossed because “Kowalke has not presented sufficient admissible evidence to support his claim that the Oath Keepers are an organization that advocates for concrete action to overthrow of the United States government by force.”

McKenna said Kowalke’s attorneys have presented the minimum requirement to at least show there is a “genuine factual dispute” over whether Oath Keepers advocates for violent insurrection.

The trial is expected to last about a week, and begins at 9 a.m. on Dec. 12 in Palmer.

Click here to support Alaska Watchman reporting.

Judge denies Eastman request to toss lawsuit. Trial begins Dec. 12

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.


  • Lobo says:

    I am really surprised .. It would be good if he had a room full of supporters.

    • Lobo says:

      The sarcasm note was omitted from my previous post.. But, if this judge sides with the leftist, it would be nice to see the voters adjudicate his “qualifications” to sit on the bench.

  • Neil DeWitt says:

    What a joke! What a waist of money, time, and energy on a flavorless lawsuit. Mr. Kowalke has nothing. Yes he can prove possibly that Mr. Eastman belongs to the Oath Keepers. That is about all. The Oath Keepers constitution says their not overthrowing government but just the opposite their there to protect and serve. This is going to blow up in the judges face. Mr Kowalke will be the laughing stock when this is all over.

  • North to Alaska says:

    Division of elections should do their legal duty and certify his election. The judge has no authority over this.

  • Ann W.Kreger says:

    I have not found any media outlet brave enough to print the entire Oath Keepers OATH. The media gladly printed the sanctimonious whinings of a group of West Point “ring knockers”. Thank God that I married a soldier, a gentleman and a man of integrity.
    I am not qualify to join, but fully support the oath.
    I am not in Representative’s district, but would have voted for him if I were.

  • Whidbey Thedog says:

    For all of you constitutional “Originalists” out there, the phrase “advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the United States or of a State.” is pretty darn clear. Connect the dots with the outcome of the bipartisan 6 Jan Committee, and you have your answer.

    • John H Slone says:

      Does your blanket condemnation of those present on Jan 6 include the many government activists who were there leading the way and encouraging others to participate? How about the capitol officers who opened the doors ? Plus everyone but you seems to know the Jan 6 committee is comprised entirely of Democrats who have a vested interest in finding Trump and his supporters guilty!!

    • Ceak says:

      the Jan 6th committee is a farce. Stop watching MSNBC and CNN. Look at the evidence and make your own analysis. Look up Roseanne Boyland’s death, watch the video of her being beat by the Capitol police. She wasn’t inside the Capitol. There is also footage of Capitol police officers opening the barricade fence to let protesters up the capitol steps. Why did they do that? It was all a setup with a few bad actors. Ask yourself who benefited the most from it all.

    • Steve says:

      More likely it’s Whidbey Therat. The Jan 6th Committee is the most unconstitutional group of traitor I’ve witnessed in my entire life. When the truth is finally revealed Whidbey Therat will be eating his words. Jan 6th was instigated by the FBI and Nancy Pelosi. Our Federal government is extremely corrupt, and entering the evil stage. We certainly can’t trust our Judicial System, nor our free and corrupt elections.

      • jon says:

        Didn’t you notice that almost everyone who testified during the Jan6 hearings was a Republican? The committee did their due diligence, and there will be indictments.

  • Jack Roberts says:

    This is nothing more than a political attack. They can’t get rid of Mr. Eastman through the ballot process so they want to toss a legitimate election through the court system. The left, be it (R) or (D) is full of hate for anyone who doesn’t share their narrow minded pin-headed beliefs. This is the same left that has kept people in a DC gulag for the last 2 years on either misdemeanor charges or no charges at all. If the judge had any common sense this should be tossed with extreme prejudice.

  • Elizabeth Henry says:

    This really appears to be a heinous witch hunt bolstered by a judge operating politically and setting a precedent smelling of judicial tyranny. There is nothing in the oath keepers website nor in any actions by Mr. Eastman that indicates seditious intent or actions. Kowalke has created a false narrative about an organization he knows nothing about, nor has ever been involved in. Then he is using that falsehood to go after an elected official, and is being allowed forward by a politicized judge.

    Kowalke, a former Matsu borough assemblyman does have a back story from 2018 when he submitted his application to be considered as Dunleavy’s replacement when Dunleavy was elected to be the new governor. The Matsu Republican district and other Matsu legislators would not recommend Kowalke, although Walker chose Kowalke. Kowalke was not appointed, Showers was. I live in the district but do not remember all the details, and only read about what was occurring very briefly but do wonder if there is some vengeance involved here. Eastman would have been part of the valley contingency that spoke out against appointing Kowalke.

  • Mag says:

    Hey Whidbey, you ever serve? Do you even know what an oath is, what it means or why it’s important? To protect trolls like you to do what you do…troll. Because I gave an oath, I’ll fight for your right to not like me.

    • DoneWithIt says:

      whidbey is the personification of all that seeks to destroy our Republic.
      I’d quote a phrase from William Shakespear’s Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2 relative to lawyers – but this site doesn’t feel its politically correct to do so (who ever would’ve thought the Alaska Watchman wouldn’t let you quote Shakespeare?…)

    • Whidbey Thedog says:

      Dear Mag, please don’t try to pull that c*** on me. Just because I didn’t “serve”, and perhaps you did, doesn’t make you any better then me. Sorry. If you want my honest opinion, a lot of Conservatives pretend to worship those in the military (Palin is a prime example), but it’s really nothing more than Conservative virtue signaling and a convenient deflection when pressed on other more salient issues. There are a lot of fine and dedicated folks in the military to be sure, but there’s also a lot who are there because it’s an employment of last resort with job security, good benefits, and real pensions. They’ve figured out that the Government will hire them when no one else will, because they’re short on their quotas. Oath Keepers is a radical bunch, and they need to be shut down.

      • Molly (USAF) says:

        Because you did jot serve you dont’ know that once you get past basic, it is no longer “just a job”. You feel how important you are in the big picture of our Nation. You find out what it takes to run the government, really run it and how effecient everyone has to be to make it succeed. You are now part of many teams and you represent our nation when in uniform. We feel pride for our nation, proud to do our jobs wherever we are stationed, and that does not leave when we leave service. Our Oath to our Nation is never diminished.

      • Mag says:

        I’m retired law enforcement so don’t assume it’s only military. Your lefty politicians and judges raise their right hand and give the same oath, are they virtue signaling too? Liberals like you who hate this country need to be deported.

    • Whidbey Thedog says:

      Well then perhaps you should also remind Dear Leader Trump what an Oath means as well…

  • John J Otness says:


  • Citizenkane says:

    Reading the Oath Keepers mission statement reveals nothing about overthrowing the government, only upholding the Constitution and helping people. I have been an Oath Keeper since 1970. How about you Mr. Dog?

    • Terry Stires says:

      Clearly actions speak louder than words. Oath Keepers tried to overturn a fair election with violence. Hardly consistent with their mission statement.

      • Molly says:

        CORRECTION: two people, who are also members of oath keepers, behaved contrary, and possibly illegally, to Oath Keepers philosophy.

      • Friend of Humanity says:

        Thank you for correcting Terry’s statement Molly! I saw another post on a different site where the person used AI to write a paper that included the introduction, body and closing. The statements of the trolls on the Alaska Watchman pages remind me a lot of that AI-written paper. I still say that there is some level of AI involved in their answers. Someday we’ll know the truth!

      • Lobo says:

        Another correction: Dozens o0f federal agents embedded in the crowd incited violence with a planned outcome.

  • Mb says:

    Based on this case we shouldn’t have certified Bill or Hillary’s election results.

  • ML Moore says:

    There is so many things wrong with this case I don’t know where to begin. Lets start with the Judges of this state. Alaska, in general has a contingent of Easterners that couldn’t make it in private practice so they moved here for less competition and a pay check. Their eastern values do not coincide with Alaskan values or beliefs. In addition, they have their lawyer/ easterner arrogance which they project from the bench in a doctorial manner. We need to clean house and put more Alaska born judges on the bench.

    I’m concerned when the court says that the judicial branch, and the legislative branch decide who is fit or qualified to run or hold an office. As an American born. seventy year old, I was taught that it was, “WE THE PEOPLE” who decided who we elect into office. Not subject to a communist approach of they can elect, but we’ll decide if they get to hold the office or not. Fundamentally, this is the most anti -American, unconstitutional statement I’ve heard in this matter. Clearly, it was “we the people”, who elected Mr. Eastman.
    Mckenna, sits on his throne and dictates nonsensible orders without merit or standing. Every person has served in the military, including myself, have taken an Oath that has no expiration date on it to protect this nation. The Oath Keeper organization is a valid patriotic organization, period! The anti-American agenda of the liberals have falsely elevated the January 6th matter, and twisted the actual event. The only person killed in this protest was an unarmed female veteran, and the death to a capital officer was twisted to have you believe it happened on the 6th when in reality he died of a heart attack several days later, and much more documented covert collusion by our current administration to incite this matter. Judge Mckenna, appears to be on this same band wagon. Absolutely no respect for this courts ability to function ethically.
    My advice for Mr. Eastman, is to take this to a civil hearing to be decided by a jury of your peers. Alaskans, true Alaskans of Palmer, will support your right and position to hold the office that, WE THE PEOPLE”, elected you too!

  • ML Moore says:

    PS: I would suggest that Mr. Whidbey THEDOG, return to California, where your comments are seen as normal. You are the problem not the solution, and your disrespect for those who serve and have served in the military support my position and comments.

  • Kathy L. says:

    In a time when there exists a force of individuals, both of this country and abroad, who advocates for and seeks the violent (or not-so-violent) overthrow of our government, are trying to remove those who are trying to stop it.

  • Norman Olson says:

    the crucifixions will begin shortly. David Eastman is being thrown to the lions. ….. The attitude of judges to these charges are the stepping stones to national destruction… I’d like to welcome David Eastman to the growing number of people who have be condemned by mere association. I went through this public/media crucifixion back in the early days of the Michigan Militia… David Eastman has been treated exactly how Ray Southwell was treated by the hospital where he worked who canned him when they found out he was part of the militia… (his private association with the Michigan Militia was a contributing part of his termination)

  • Friend of Humanity says:

    Off topic: Before you get any injection, ask to see the ingredients! “As the war against humanity and the great awakening heats up, the bioweapons payload mechanisms of delivery are broadening, completely unbeknownst to a largely unsuspecting public.”
    “…Alert…..” SGT Report w/Atty Todd Callender & Dr. Lee Vliet

  • Johnny says:

    kowalke, quit soapboxing you look stupid now.

  • Dave says:

    In the Third Judicial District with a fake judge (no Oath as prescribed by AS 39.05.035) dependent upon the Alaska Bar. Our problem is detailed in Gladden vs. Reigh case no.: 3:19-cv-99.

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      I just heard on a podcast this afternoon that there are quite a few people who are supposed to take an oath at swearing in for their positions that have not. When Dunleavy was taking his oath for his second term, he took it but did not seem happy about doing it. Watching the inauguration for Dunleavy, it reminded me of watching Mike Pence certifying the 2020 election results! His voice was pressured, like he did not want to say the words. Thank you for bringing this up!

  • Steve says:

    With this type of Judicial activism we are being pushed into a overthrow of our corrupt government, state and federal.

  • Sharon Turner says:

    Whatever has happened to: I may heartily disagree with what you believe or have to say; But I will defend with my life your RIGHTS to say or believe as you CHOOSE ! The words Choice and Choose sure seem to be used only when convenient to the ‘issuer of those words’. If only 65 million USA preborn baby persons could only testify.

  • David Cuddy says:

    IF Sen Eastman is removed by OPINION that he was an insurrectionist….Most of our US Senate, including Sullivan and Murkowski could be removed for the same reason. There is opinion they are members of a Congress that validated an unlawful election, and used force to secure it. Do we really want to open this door? Opinion. This issue is best left to the voters to decide. A judge’s opinion should not have more weight than an informed voter’s opinion in this particular matter.

  • Ken says:

    Kowalke made a trip to China when He was on the Assembly is He compromised?

  • Ken says:

    Well is Kowalke compromised?

  • Ken says:

    After going to China

  • RA says:

    it would sure be nice to be able to like or dislike people’s comments without having to post.