Alaska state Rep. Eastman loses committee seats, may lose caucus position

Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, sits alone during a recess in the chambers of the House of Representatives in the Capitol in Juneau on Feb. 26. House leadership and other members discussed how to deal with Eastman’s refusal to follow protocols while they were attempting to conduct business shortly before the recess. On Thursday, the House voted to remove Eastman from his committee seats, although Minority Leader Lance Pruitt said the Feb. 26 incident was not the reason for the committee action. (Photo by Skip Gray/KTOO)

Wasilla Republican Rep. David Eastman has been removed from his committee positions, and his status in the House minority caucus is uncertain.

The House voted Thursday to replace Eastman on two committees.

Anchorage Rep. Lance Pruitt, the Republican minority leader, said he made the decision after talking with caucus members.

“There are things that have happened that you may have never seen,” that led to the vote, Pruitt said.

Eastman said the change happened because the Republican minority had become a binding caucus, requiring him to vote a certain way.

Pruitt said that wasn’t the case, adding that the caucus is a team that requires its members to work toward the same goal.

Pruitt said Eastman would not be allowed into caucus meetings for one month. Eastman’s long-term status in the caucus is uncertain.

House Republicans have criticized Eastman over both recent actions and earlier behavior.

On Feb. 26, Eastman attempted to give a floor speech about abortion during a debate over a spending bill. Leaders of both caucuses said Eastman’s speech wasn’t relevant to the bill. And Eastman also recently criticized a resolution supporting circulating dollar coins featuring Alaska Native civil rights pioneer Elizabeth Peratrovich. Minority-caucus Rep. DeLena Johnson of Palmer sponsored the resolution.

Eastman said after Republicans won 23 of 40 House seats in November 2018 that he wouldn’t commit to supporting the caucus leaders. Kenai Republican Rep. Gary Knopp cited Eastman’s position in announcing that he wouldn’t support an all-Republican caucus. Knopp’s decision led other Republicans to join with Democrats and independents to form the current House majority.

Johnson has taken Eastman’s place on the House Rules Committee, while Homer Republican Rep. Sarah Vance replaced Eastman on the House Judiciary Committee.


Watch the latest legislative coverage from Gavel Alaska.

Andrew Kitchenman

State Government Reporter, Alaska Public Media & KTOO

State government plays an outsized role in the life of Alaskans. As the state continues to go through the painful process of deciding what its priorities are, I bring Alaskans to the scene of a government in transition.

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