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Mat-Su Republican who ousted Keller forms new PAC to influence Alaska elections

  • Author: Nathaniel Herz
  • Updated: August 24, 2016
  • Published August 24, 2016

Another Alaska politician has created a personal political action committee on the heels of Anchorage Republican Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, who used her new PAC this month to raise money from lobbyists and bar owners.

David Eastman of Wasilla, who toppled incumbent Rep. Wes Keller in the Republican primary, registered the Alaska Conservative Leadership PAC last week, two days after winning his election.

He plans to control the committee's fundraising and donations, and will use its money to support issues and candidates aligned with fiscal and social conservatives, he said in a phone interview Wednesday.

"It's an opportunity for individuals who support conservative leadership to put their money where their values are," said Eastman, who was driving to Anchorage on Wednesday for a legislative hearing on the state's natural gas pipeline project.

The creation of Eastman's PAC comes a month after LeDoux founded Gabby's Tuesday PAC. In her first disclosure earlier this month, LeDoux reported maximum contributions of $500 from 10 different lobbyists, who are barred from donating directly to candidates unless they're seeking to represent the lobbyists' own legislative districts.

LeDoux used the money she raised to support the campaigns of 10 other candidates and incumbent lawmakers — mirroring the "leadership PACs" used by federal elected officials to gain clout and influence among their colleagues.

LeDoux's fundraising tactics drew skepticism from campaign finance reformers, who said she was exploiting a loophole in state law.

Eastman said his PAC wasn't created specifically to raise money from lobbyists, though he didn't rule out asking them for money.

He also pointed out that LeDoux had used her PAC to donate $250 to Keller, Eastman's primary opponent — a fact Eastman said he was aware of when creating his own political committee.

Eastman wouldn't say how much money he'd raised so far, though his PAC will ultimately have to disclose its fundraising and donors to state regulators.

Eastman was willing  to identify two contributors, however: Jim Pazsint, who donated $100, and Brad Keithley, who donated $500.

Keithley earlier this month spent $6,000 on radio and digital ads in an independent effort — not coordinated with Eastman himself — to boost Eastman's campaign. Keithley said in a phone interview that Eastman is "concerned" about reductions in Alaskans' Permanent Fund dividends "in the same way I am."

"Since Gabby's going down this road, it looks like it's the new thing to do, and I want to be supportive of those efforts if he's trying to support like-minded members of the Legislature," Keithley said, referring, respectively, to LeDoux and Eastman.

LeDoux chuckled when informed by a reporter of Eastman's new PAC. She said its creation confirmed her prediction earlier this month that committees led by individual lawmakers would become more common.

"I wasn't expecting it quite so quickly," LeDoux said. She added, "By this time next year, I think they are going to be really, really old news."

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