ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Challenges have been made to Alaska Republican state Rep. David Eastman's reelection bid over his affiliation with the far-right Oath Keepers.
Several people said they filed complaints related to a section of the state Constitution that prevents from holding public office anyone 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," the Anchorage Daily News reported.
“He’s a legislator and I just really hold any representative in the state up to a higher standard,” said Jason Thomas, an attorney from Eagle River who filed a challenge.
An Oath Keepers leader and other members or associates have been charged with seditious conspiracy related to the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection.
Eastman has said he attended a Jan. 6 rally in Washington, D.C., for outgoing President Donald Trump that was held before people stormed the U.S. Capitol. But he has said that he did not participate in the riot. He has not been accused of any crimes.
Eastman, in an email to The Associated Press on Monday, said efforts “to repurpose the constitution to purify the candidate pool before an election have failed in the past and will continue to fail because it is fundamentally the right of the people to make good choices as well as bad ones on Election Day.”
Eastman is one of three Republicans running in his Wasilla House district.
Tiffany Montemayor, an Alaska Division of Elections spokesperson, told the newspaper the division had received “a number of complaints about Rep. Eastman and others.”
She told the AP she did not have further details on the complaints. The deadline for complaints ended Saturday.
Under state law, the division director is to determine a candidate's eligibility within 30 days of receiving a complaint.
Alaska House leaders earlier this year backed off a proposal to strip Eastman of committee assignments over his affiliation with Oath Keepers. House members instead held informational hearings on the group.
The Oath Keepers were founded in 2009. The group recruits current and former military, police and first responders. Its members pledge to “fulfill the oath all military and police take to ‘defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,’” and to defend the Constitution, according to its website.
Eastman was ousted from the minority Republican caucus weeks before this year's legislative session ended. The minority leader cited tensions with Eastman that had built over time. Eastman additionally was removed from two committees.
Ivan Hodes, who was among the graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who last fall called on Eastman to resign, detailed the process for filing a complaint on social media. He said he filed one and urged others to do so. Eastman graduated from West Point.
Raven Amos of Wasilla said she filed a complaint.
“If the Legislature is incapable of defending the state’s constitution, then it becomes the duty of the voting body to demand that the rule of law is followed," Amos said in a Twitter message.