By Ike Fredregill, Cowboy State Daily
An anonymous website created by an unknown organization has judged 60 percent of the Legislature’s Republicans to be “Republicans in Name Only.”
Using voting records on 10 bills from the 2019 Legislative Session, during which legislators reviewed hundreds of pieces of legislation, www.wyoRINO.com assigned percentages values to the votes cast by each Republican member of the Wyoming House and Senate. If a legislator did not toe the party line on at least seven of the 10 bills, their names were highlighted in red to indicate RINO status. The website attributes its creation to Ride for the Brand, Wyoming, a political organization Wyoming Republican Party Chairman Frank Eathorne said he didn’t know existed.
“This is nothing new, though,” Eathorne said. “We’ve seen other interest groups put out their opinions, ranking and analysis.”
The Wyoming Republican Party website on Nov. 11 published a clarification stating it has no affiliations with other individuals, organizations, groups or publications.
“The party makes it positions known through its platform and planks adopted at its State Convention,” the website states.
Nearly verbatim, the wyoRINO website also states its independence, following the declaration with a caveat specifying that Ride for the Brand, Wyoming, reserves the right to revise its opinions and conclusions.
While Eathorne said wyoRINO was not a product of the party, he said there was no problem with the website claiming to represent party ideals.
“It’s fine that they tie to the timeless principles of the Republican Party,” he explained. “But, we need to continue to clarify the WYGOP does not engage in that.”
Of the 77 listed Republicans, 46, about 60 percent, were labeled RINOs, while only 10 scored perfect rankings.
“They proved exactly the opposite of what they were hoping,” said Sen. Michael Von Flatern, R-Gillette. “They proved there’s very few ‘true’ Republicans.”
The site rated Von Flatern at 30 percent.
“(Smear campaigns have) come up about three times for me — about every four years around election time,” he said. “The ultra-conservatives are behind this site. They’re not inclusive. If you are gay or a little different than their conservative, Bible-thumping group, you are less of a person. You are a threat to them.”
Von Flatern said though he had suspicions, he wasn’t sure who created the website. He added he’s never heard of Ride for the Brand.
Wyoming. Sen. Tom James, R-Rock Springs, received a ranking of 100 percent and hosts a personal web page with several similarities to www.wyoRINO.com, but said he was not involved with the website.
“I don’t rate other legislators, I just put out the spread sheets with the votes,” James said. “I think it’s good there’s outside people getting involved. I always feel that more data is better, but I think the website is a good start.”
Republicans may not see eye to eye on every topic, but he said if their voting record dips below 70 percent — the ratio of votes in line with published Republican values — they are lying about their affiliation.
“That speaks for the lack of integrity of the official,” James said. “If they are lying to the people — ‘I’m going to vote this way’ — then they don’t do it, that’s on the elected official.”
James said he was not familiar with Ride for the Brand, Wyoming.
While Gov. Mark Gordon was not available for comment, his office responded to an interview request via email.
“The Governor doesn’t believe that an anonymous website with ‘rankings’ based on a small sampling of votes is an accurate way to characterize legislators’ beliefs,” wrote Michael Pearlman, Gordon’s communications director.