An Alaska judge ruled on Thursday that Alaska state Rep. David Eastman (R) will likely be found ineligible for office in a lawsuit seeking to oust the Republican over his lifetime membership with the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group.
Alaska Superior Court Judge Jack McKenna wrote in his ruling that Randall Kowalke, a former Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly member who filed the lawsuit, had shown a “probability of success” in proving that Eastman is barred from holding office under the Alaska Constitution’s “Disqualification for Disloyalty” clause.
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 of 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 “Life Membership Commemorative Certificate”) and that the Oath Keepers are an organization that’s trying to overthrow the government, the judge wrote.
According to McKenna’s ruling, Kowalke cited some Oath Keepers members’ role in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and the fact that several members, including leader Stewart Rhodes, have been indicted on sedition charges following the attack.
Eastman was also in D.C. for the Jan. 6 Trump rally that led to the insurrection, but the GOP lawmaker has said he didn’t participate in the violence that took place that day.
McKenna cautioned that his ruling “is based upon a limited record and after the testimony of no witnesses, and it does not represent a final decision in this case.”
The judge denied Kowalke’s request to scrub Eastman’s name off the ballot in the November election, saying that because the trial in the disqualification suit won’t begin until Dec. 12, the Republican must remain on the ballot in case he ends up prevailing after the trial.
Otherwise, McKenna argued, Eastman “would lose at the outset of the case before he had a full and fair opportunity to defend himself.”
McKenna ordered Alaska’s Division of Elections to delay the certification of the results in Eastman’s race until after the trial wraps up.
If Kowalke succeeds, Eastman would be the second elected official to be disqualified from holding office over ties to the Capitol attack.
Earlier this month, a judge in New Mexico kicked Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin, who was convicted for breaking into the Capitol, out of office as an Otero County Commissioner under the Disqualification Clause in the 14th Amendment.