House calls for reprimand of two Wasilla lawmakers
The Alaska House majority is calling for disciplinary action against two Wasilla lawmakers. Representative David Eastman and Senator David Wilson have both been under fire from the public and legislative colleagues for actions this week.
Now, House leadership says it’s seeking legal council on legislative reprimand.
On Tuesday, Eastman made national headlines for saying:
“We have folks who try to get pregnant in this state so that they can get a free trip to the city, and we have folks who want to carry their baby past the point of being able to have an abortion in this state so that they can have a free trip to Seattle.”
It’s a claim Eastman continues to defend without any data.
“I don’t think the comments are acceptable, and I’m hopeful that apologies will be in order,” Representative Neal Foster (D-Nome), who represents 32 Alaska villages, said on the House floor Friday.
Foster and the rest of the House’s rural legislators, including House Speaker Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham), sent a joint letter to Eastman demanding a public apology.
But, Anchorage Representative Geran Tarr says the House should go a step further and seek legislative reprimand, called censure, against Eastman.
“This is not a topic I would bring up lightly, and this is something that we should all take very seriously,” Tarr told colleagues Friday. “There have been comments that continue to be made that are so deeply offensive, racist in nature and misogynistic, that I think that this body should consider censuring one of our members.”
The Alaska Democratic began circulating an online petition for Eastman’s censure Friday.
Majority Leader Chris Tuck says censure is the least the Senate can do after the Alaska Dispatch News released audio Tuesday of Wasilla senator David Wilson allegedly slapping a reporter.
“It’s shocking to think that a legislator will strike a reporter for simply asking a question about an article. This is beneath the dignity of this institution, the legislature, and it puts a chilling effect on the press,” said Tuck. “There are actions that the other body could have done in response to such poor behavior in this building, one, of course, is expulsion.”
When asked whether he hit the reporter, Wilson would only reply ‘no comment.’ Senate leadership says it won’t comment until a police investigation is complete. But Tuck says the Senate’s silence is deafening.
“It’s pretty clear that it did happen– there’s no reason to wait for a police report for the Senate to act on this. At least, Senator Wilson needs to explain himself and apologize,” Tuck said in an interview Friday.
Wilson and Eastman both represent the same Wasilla constituents, but many in Alaska say their behavior this week does not represent their role as Alaska legislators.
On Friday, Palmer Representative DeLena Johnson, a member of Eastman’s Republican caucus, posted a comment on Facebook distancing herself from his claims.
“Recent comments made by Representative David Eastman have proven to be extremely offensive. I have chosen to address these at face value and want to assure my constituents that I do not support, nor condone, nor agree with the statements that are being made about Alaskans of a certain gender, race, or heritage. I am remised to be having to speak on behalf of myself in this manner, but the magnitude of these comments have left me no choice.
I am a representative of all persons; man or woman, native or foreign, Republican or Democrat; and I intend to keep legislating and acting accordingly,” Johnson wrote.
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