Wasilla Republican Rep. David Eastman is a lifetime member of the Oath Keepers, a far-right anti-government militia, according to membership information leaked online and published by multiple publications on Wednesday.
Eastman is among dozens of elected officials named in the leak, which has been dissected by various news agencies to discover active-duty police officers, members of the military and military veterans. Several organizations wrote on Wednesday about elected officials, including Eastman, who appear as members.
Almost two dozen members of the Oath Keepers, which the FBI labels a paramilitary organization, have been charged in connection with the riotous invasion of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Eastman was in Washington, D.C., during the riot and attended rallies in support of President Donald Trump before it, but he said he did not go to the Capitol. He has not been charged with any crimes, and membership in the Oath Keepers is not a crime.
Asked Wednesday about his involvement in the group, he texted, “I joined the Oath Keepers when it first started and will always consider it a privilege to stand with those in the military and first responders who strive to keep their oaths to the Constitution.”
Asked whether he remains a lifetime member and whether it is accurate to call the group a far-right militia, he wrote, “America needs men and women of courage who will stand by the Constitution even, and especially, when they will be pilloried for doing so; my commitment is to the Constitution, not a president, or party, or group, or school. If each of our elected officials held to this simple commitment, there would be much less to divide us as Americans.”
Eastman wouldn’t answer further questions.
[From ProPublica: Oath Keepers in the statehouse: How a militia movement took root in the Republican mainstream]
Eastman is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and classmate Edward Brook IV said he recalls Eastman trying to recruit him for the John Birch Society, another far-right group, in the early 2000s.
“He is very much dyed-in-the-wool, far, far right,” Brook said Wednesday from West Virginia, where he’s a lawyer.
Oath Keepers was founded in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, an Army veteran who created the group as a reaction to the presidency of Barack Obama. For weeks before the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, he said his group was preparing for a civil war and was “armed, prepared to go in if the president calls us up.”
One of the group’s founding beliefs is that the federal government has been co-opted by a shadowy conspiracy.
Under that belief, the group targets current and former members of the military and law enforcement for recruitment under the belief that they would be the first people asked to implement the conspiracy’s goals.
Among other appearances, members of the Oath Keepers were present at the 2014 Bundy ranch standoff in Nevada and were present at protests following the death of George Floyd and protests against lockdowns related to COVID-19.
A database containing membership rosters, emails and payment information was leaked to reporters in late September, exposing the membership of active-duty police, members of the military and politicians.