Alaskan politician David Eastman censured after suggesting fatal child abuse could be ‘cost saving’ | US News
A politician in Alaska’s state house who suggested children dying from abuse could be good for public finances, has been censured by his colleagues.
David Eastman, a Republican member of the Alaskan House of Representatives, made the suggestion during a session about child abuse in the state on Monday.
Expert witnesses were testifying about the long-term harm child abuse has to the economy, to the workforce and to taxpayers, when children who face abuse, and the adults they grow up to be, rely on the government.
Mr Eastman, according to US media, during the questioning focused on what the “benefit” of child abuse might be.
He asked one expert: “How would you respond to the argument that I have heard on occasion where, in the case where child abuse is fatal, obviously it’s not good for the child, but it’s actually a benefit to society because there aren’t needs for government services and whatnot over the whole course of that child’s life?”
The expert witness, Trevor Storrs, the Alaska Children’s Trust chief asked Mr Eastman to repeat his question, adding: “Did you say, ‘a benefit for society?'”
The Republican doubled down, responding: “Talking dollars… [it] gets argued periodically that it’s actually a cost-saving 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 received intense backlash, including from Democrat counterpart Andrew Gray, who called the comments “offensive, insulting, and unsubstantiated”, adding they undermined the “dignity of the House”.
Mr Gray brought a motion of censure against Mr Eastman on Wednesday, which was voted through the Republican majority legislature 35 to one.
Only Mr Eastman voted against it.
A vote of censure holds no official repercussions, and instead is a way of showing dissatisfaction on the record.
Mr Eastman later defended himself, saying his comments were “mischaracterised”, adding that it was wrong to say he “supports child abuse when I’ve staked my entire political career arguing for the opposite”.
This is not the first time Mr Eastman has been in trouble with his colleagues, and was censured in 2017 for saying some Alaskans try to get pregnant “so that they can get a free trip to the city” to get an abortion, becoming the first politician in state history to receive the punishment.