Alaska Republican sparks alarm by claiming ‘economic benefits’ to children being abused to death
A Republican lawmaker found himself in hot water this week after he made comments about fatal cases of child abuse and neglect that shocked and disgusted his fellow lawmakers.
The scene unfolded in Alaska’s state House of Representatives, where lawmakers met this week to discuss child abuse and the broad effects that the death of a child at the hands of their own parent or parents has on a wider society.
One lawmaker sparked the comments by noting the disproportionate effects that the murder of a child has on a society or family unit, including (but not limited to) severe, life-altering trauma that can cost thousands to manage over a lifetime.
Representative David Eastman then waded into the conversation with a bizarre remark about how such cases could actually be seen as a best-case scenario, given that fatal cases of child abuse do not result in the dead victims being eligible for aid from taxpayer-funded state agencies.
"It can be argued, periodically, that it's actually a cost savings because that child is not going to need any of those government services that they might otherwise be entitled to receive and need based on growing up in this type of environment,” he said, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
It was a remark that instantly drew a condemnation from witnesses in the room, according to the Anchorage Daily News, as well as one Democratic lawmaker who said she was “disgusted” by the comment. A Republican lawmaker who chairs the Alaska state House Judiciary Committee also called Mr Eastman’s comment insensitive.
"I wished that he asked questions with a little bit more sensitivity to the listeners and how they're perceived, and I can have that conversation,” Sarah Vance told the newspaper.
This is far from the only controversy that Dan Easman has found himself in since launching his political career.
The ex-military politician is a member of the right-wing Oathkeepers militia; leaders of that organisation have been charged with seditious conspiracy in the wake of the attempt by Donald Trump’s supporters to attack the US Capitol and prevent the certification of the 2020 election. Activists in Alaska attempted to file a suit barring Mr Eastman from office for that reason, but their efforts failed.