The House Select Committee on Legislative Ethics has found clear and convincing evidence that Wasilla Republican Rep. David Eastman did, as the committee suggested earlier this year, leak the existence of a separate confidential ethics complaint and in doing so violated state law.
This week’s hearing and finding were part of an appeal brought by the freshman representative, who was a member of the legislative ethics committee at the time of the leak.
Eastman was removed from that very committee by the House on a 31-6 vote after the House subcommittee on legislative ethics found probable cause that Eastman disclosed the existence of a confidential report targeting Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, to Journal of Commerce reporter Naomi Klouda in 2017.
The state argued that during an interview Eastman told Klouda that she should check with legislative ethics about the complaint (the subject of the interview was related to LeDoux). Klouda then called legislative ethics, setting off avalanche of repercussions against Eastman.
The Alaska Journal of Commerce didn’t disclose the existence of the complaint at the time because, as AJoC Managing Editor Andrew Jensen explained in an editorial on Wednesday, they couldn’t confirm the report and because legislative ethics Administrator Jerry Anderson informed them of the “serious nature of anyone disclosing a pending complaint.”
This week’s hearing essentially boiled down to a credibility battle between Klouda and Eastman.
Klouda had been interviewed and deposed multiple times throughout the process and, as today’s report shows, was consistent in what she heard throughout the process.
Eastman, however, shifted and it wasn’t until the Tuesday hearing that he voiced a full denial that he exposed the separate complaint.
The committee ultimately found that Klouda “appeared to have no motive or reason to provide false information” and sided with her version of events.
Today’s ruling essentially upholds the actions from earlier this year and doesn’t recommend any further action.