Alaska state lawmaker censured for comments about child abuse

Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 3:31 AM AKST
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU/Gray News) - The Alaska House of Representatives voted to censure Wasilla Republican Rep. David Eastman by a decisive 35-1 margin on Thursday.

The censure comes two days after Eastman made comments during the House Judiciary Committee meeting on the financial implications to society of fatal child abuse.

“It gets argued periodically it’s actually a cost savings because that child is not going to need any of those government services they might otherwise be entitled to receive, and need, based on growing up in this type of environment,” Eastman said Monday.

Eastman was the lone vote against the censure measure, and argued the motion to censure from Anchorage Rep. Andrew Gray impugned his motives and was “hateful rhetoric.”

“It is important to remember regarding that member from Wasilla that over the years he has shown Alaska who he is, posting on his website a photo of himself standing next to a quote from Adolf Hitler that calls for the extermination of people, and yet he has been reelected three times to his seat,” Gray said. “We must respond as a body. We must do something. This body must act.”

Eastman responded by noting section 121 of the rules of the house, claiming that Gray had impugned his motives.

“The outrageous accusation that somehow I and the members of my district support the extermination of people or support child abuse — when I’ve staked my entire political career arguing for the opposite — is not acceptable in this body,” Eastman said.

President and CEO of the Alaska Children’s Trust Trevor Storrs, who testified on Monday in that committee meeting, responded directly to Eastman’s comment at the time.

“I’m not even sure how to answer that, that there’s a cost saving to the death of a child. The impact that that has on a family and us as a society when a child is lost, especially to abuse and neglect, is unmeasurable.”

Storrs said he hopes the focus can remain on the issues that the Alaska Children’s Trust tackles, and still spoke favorably about his time testifying and contributing to the committee.

“Legislators are in a very key role. They’re making laws and decisions, and systems and policies and legislation can either prevent, or unfortunately maybe perpetuate, the situation that creates the environment that then leads to child abuse and neglect,” Storrs said.

Anchorage Rep. Cliff Groh attended the committee hearing on Monday as well, and retold how the meeting unfolded from his perspective.

“His statements, and his entire line of questioning — and it was, I want to stress it was just not one question, but a line of questioning — both very much bothered me not only as a parent but as a human being,” Groh said. “I just thought his comments and his line of questioning were despicable.”

Wednesday’s vote is the second time the House has moved to censure Eastman.

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Eastman did not respond to multiple requests for comment.