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Eastman plans to seek hearing on ethics finding

By BECKY BOHRERJanuary 20, 2018

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska state lawmaker said Friday he plans to seek a formal hearing into an ethics panel finding that he improperly disclosed to a member of the public the existence of a complaint that was considered confidential.

A subcommittee of the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics said Thursday it found probable cause that Rep. David Eastman, a Wasilla Republican, had violated ethics law in making the disclosure.

It recommended he be censured in the form of losing his seat on the ethics committee. The subcommittee report said the alleged violation occurred in May.

Eastman said the committee did not meet until August and that’s the first time that new members, like him, would have received any type of confidential information from the committee.

He said it has not been confirmed to him which complaint he is alleged to have leaked information about.

He declined comment on an Alaska Journal of Commerce report that said he told one of its reporters during an interview in late April that an ethics complaint had been filed against another legislator and suggested the reporter check with the ethics office.

The reporter did and was “quizzed” by the ethics committee’s administrator, Jerry Anderson, about the source of the information, the publication reported.

The Journal said the reporter and an editor met in May with Anderson, at Anderson’s request, and provided formal testimony on the interview with Eastman.

Anderson said Friday he could not discuss details of the investigation surrounding the probable cause finding against Eastman.

Eastman said he sees the matter against him “as a distraction from the sexual harassment scandal that the Legislature is currently facing.”

Democratic state Rep. Dean Westlake resigned last month after being accused by female aides of unwanted touching and making inappropriate comments. Minority Republicans, including Eastman, have said there should be a third-party probe into how the allegations were handled.

Westlake said he was sorry if any of his actions made anyone uncomfortable.

Eastman was censured by the House 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 has said he was sorry he made the comments.

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