Does membership in the group Oath Keepers – which is at the center of the partisan Jan. 6 committee’s theory that the Capitol riot was an “insurrection” – disqualify someone from holding public office?
That’s the contention of Democratic leaders in the Alaska state House of Representatives and a lawsuit against state Republican Rep. David Eastman, a West Point grad and Army veteran who served in Afghanistan.
In a video interview with WND, embedded below, Eastman said the effort to remove him from office is part of a larger, nationwide effort to “redefine” the Constitution, loyalty to America’s founding document, and terms such as “insurrection.”
“If they’re able to succeed in this, then we no longer have the Constitution,” he said. “We have a new Constitution with definitions which are incompatible with the old Constitution.”
And those who are loyal to the Constitution conceived by the Founders, Eastman continued, end up being condemned as disloyal.
“One of those sides is going to prevail,” he told WND. “And if the goal is to purge society of whoever whoever loses the election and put them on an enemies list and target them and send the FBI to raid their house – that’s a very different America than I grew up in.”
The lawsuit accuses Eastman, by virtue of his Oath Keepers membership, of violating the Alaska state constitution, which disqualifies anyone who advocates “the overthrow by force or violence of the United States.
Eastman made it clear he abides by the oath he took as an Army officer “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
A group of about 70 West Point graduates is calling on Eastman to resign, charging he has “discredited … and betrayed the values of West Point.” But another group of West Point grads, claiming a much larger constituency, has written a letter in support of Eastman speaking out against the “woke mob” and “against the politics of personal destruction, against guilt by accusation, guilt by association, and every effort to curtail the right of Americans to speak freely concerning the political issues of our day.”
Eastman told WND he ran for office because his concern was concerned about issues such as crime, upholding the rule of law, religious freedom, and the right to life. He joined Oath Keepers, he said, as a commitment to uphold his oath to the Constitution. But there is no Oath Keepers chapter in Alaska, and he has never been to a meeting. He did travel to Washington on Jan. 6, he said, to show support for President Trump and the legal effort to contest the election results, and never went to the Capitol.
The Democratic leadership of the Alaska state House, headed by Speaker Louise Stutes, is trying to remove his legislative committee seats while a group called the Northern Justice Project is in court representing a constituent, Randall Kowalke, who says he supported Eastman until he found out about his membership in Oath Keepers.
“Mr. Eastman was ineligible as a candidate under the Alaska Constitution’s disloyalty clause due to his membership in the Oath Keepers,” Kowalke stated in the complaint, contending the Oath Keepers want to overthrow the government.
The Northern Justice Project did not reply to WND’s request for an interview about the complaint against Eastman.
On Sept. 22, an Anchorage judge granted a temporary injunction, ruling Kowalke likely would prevail in arguing that Eastman is a member of the Oath Keepers and that the group is seeking to overthrow the U.S. government.
With a trial scheduled for December, Eastman’s name will remain on the general election ballot and the vote certification will be delayed.
Oath Keepers says it has a membership of about 39,000 members comprised mostly of former military, law enforcement officers, and first responders who have pledged to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution.
The group’s founder, Stewart Rhodes, and 10 other members have been charged with seditious conspiracy in the Capitol riot. Rhodes, a Yale Law School graduate, and former U.S. Army paratrooper, has no criminal history. He never entered the Capitol on Jan. 6 and says he was in communication with members on that day to “keep them out of trouble.”
Rhodes acknowledges a handful of Oath Keepers who “went totally off mission” did enter the Capitol.