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Panel recommends Eastman removal from ethics committee

January 19, 2018

In this Jan. 16, 2018 photo, Rep. David Eastman, a Wasilla Republican, sits at a desk on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives in Juneau, Alaska. A special panel on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, recommended the removal of Eastman from the legislative ethics committee for allegedly disclosing to a member of the public the existence of a complaint that was considered confidential. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A freshman Alaska legislator faces a second possible censure after a legislative panel said he disclosed the existence of a complaint that was considered confidential.

The House subcommittee of the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics said Thursday that it found probable cause that Wasilla state Rep. David Eastman violated ethics law by disclosing the existence of a complaint in May.

The subcommittee recommended that Eastman be censured in the form of removal from his seat on the ethics committee. The panel did not say to whom Eastman may have disclosed the complaint.

Committee administrator Jerry Anderson said Eastman could agree and comply with the recommendation, request a confidential meeting with the committee or seek a formal hearing.

The Associated Press left messages with Eastman’s office seeking comment.

The Alaska Journal of Commerce, an Anchorage business publication, reported Thursday that Eastman told the paper during an interview in late April that a complaint had been filed against another lawmaker, Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux.

Anderson said he could not confirm details of the Journal account, citing confidentiality rules surrounding the ethics committee’s work. LeDoux, through House majority press secretary Mike Mason, said a complaint against her was dismissed as being without merit but she declined further comment.

The House censured Eastman in May over comments he made suggesting there are women in Alaska who try to get pregnant to get a “free trip to the city” for abortions.

He had made those comments during an interview with the AP in which he was discussing his concerns about the use of state funds and Medicaid for abortions. He made similar comments later to a public radio reporter.

Eastman, a first-term conservative lawmaker, said he was sorry he made the comments and referred to himself as the “least politically correct legislator in our state.”

Also Thursday, the House ethics subcommittee announced it had dismissed a complaint against Eagle River Republican Rep. Dan Saddler. The panel said the complaint involved Saddler’s mention of a promotion for a commercial business event on the House floor and a member of Saddler’s staff using state resources to send an email to legislative email addresses promoting the event.

The subcommittee said Saddler should avoid even the appearance of impropriety and provided guidance on doing that. It said both Saddler and his aide cooperated in the investigation of the complaint.

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