An Alaska judge ruled Thursday that Alaska State Representative David Eastman (R) is likely ineligible for office in a lawsuit seeking to oust the Republican over his Lifetime membership with Oath Keepersa far-right militia group.
Alaska Superior Court Judge Jack McKenna wrote in his sentence that Randall Kowalke, a former Matanuska-Susitna Township Assemblymember who filed the lawsuit, had shown a “likelihood of success” in proving that Eastman cannot hold office under the Constitution’s “Disqualification for Disloyalty” clause from Alaska.
That clause mandates that “No person who advocates, or who aids or belongs to any party or organization or association which advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the government of the United States or of the State shall be qualified to hold any public office trust or profit under this constitution.”
Kowalke will likely be able to successfully prove at trial that Eastman is an Oath Keeper (one who received a “Commemorative Certificate of Lifetime Membership”) and that the Oath Keepers are an organization that is trying to overthrow the government, the judge wrote.
Under McKenna’s ruling, Kowalke cited the role of some Oath Keepers members in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and the fact that several members, including leader Stewart Rhodes, have been charged with sedition following the attack.
Eastman was also in DC for Trump’s Jan. 6 rally that led to the uprising, but the Republican lawmaker has said he had no part in the violence that took place that day.
McKenna cautioned that his ruling “is based on a limited record and after the testimony of no witnesses, and does not represent a final decision in this case.”
The judge denied Kowalke’s request to remove Eastman’s name from the ballot in the November election, saying that because the trial in the disbarment suit will not begin until Dec. 1. 12, the Republican must remain on the ticket in case he ends up winning after the trial.
Otherwise, McKenna argued, Eastman “would lose early in the case before he had a full and fair opportunity to defend himself.”
McKenna ordered the Alaska Division of Elections to delay certification of the results in Eastman’s race until after the trial concludes.
If Kowalke is successful, Eastman would be the second elected official to be disqualified from holding office for ties to the Capitol attack.
Earlier this month, a judge in New Mexico expelled Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin, who was convicted of breaking into the Capitol, from his position as Otero County Commissioner under the Amendment’s Disqualification Clause. 14.