An Alaska state representative is a member of a far-right, anti-government militia called the Oath Keepers.
Wasilla Republican Rep. David Eastman’s name showed up in a list of Oath Keepers leaked online this week, and Eastman told the Anchorage Daily News that, yes, he’s a proud member.
As ADN reporter James Brooks explains, the group has thousands of members.
The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
James Brooks: One of the guiding principles is that members of this group believe that the United States is either part of, or controlled by, a conspiracy called the New World Order that is trying to take over the world or is restricting Americans, trying to do nefarious things. And so because police and law enforcement would be in charge of enforcing these nefarious things, that’s who they’re trying to recruit to resist this conspiracy that supposedly exists.
Casey Grove: So they believe this conspiracy… do they, I guess, advocate for violence? Or do they say that violence may be necessary at some point?
JB: They do say that, at least the leader of the group has said that violence may be necessary. In the weeks before the Jan. 6 riot, the leader of the group had said that violence might be necessary in order to prevent a takeover of the federal government.
CG: So this list gets leaked, you notice that Rep. David Eastman is on the list, and you reached out to him. What did he say about his membership in the group?
JB: I can’t take credit for seeing it first. There were plenty of other national organizations that saw this material first. And then we at the Daily News focused on Eastman, because he is a sitting state legislator here in Alaska. I’m still going through the documents that have been publicly leaked, and I don’t know who else in Alaska is on there. But his name is obviously important because he is a sitting legislator. When I contacted him, he responded by text message, apparently giving a response that he’s given lots of other media organizations, that he joined the group soon after it was founded, and that he doesn’t have any regrets about sticking with that group.
CG: Did he say why he wanted to be a part of that group?
JB: He had said that he always considers it a privilege to stand with members of the military and first responders who keep to the Constitution, the U.S. Constitution. And that’s one of the group’s general ideas … that if the federal government is controlled by a conspiracy, then to keep to the Constitution, they must resist that conspiracy and thus resist the federal government.
CG: What are you seeing, as far as what people are saying about his membership in the group, either criticism or support? And is there any sense that that might have any implications for him in the future?
JB: So far, I don’t believe I’ve seen any consequences, or reaction that would actually have consequences to this. I would point out one email that I received after the story published from a reader who pointed to a section of the Alaska constitution: Article 12, Section 4. It says that no person who advocates, aids or belongs to any party or organization or association that advocates the overthrow by force or violence against the government of the United States or of the state shall be qualified to hold any public office. And that could have implications if legislators or members of the public decided to make a deal out of it. But that’s highly speculative, and I wouldn’t be prepared to say that.