Rep. Harshman Apologizes For Cursing At Rep. Gray During Session; Has Remote Privileges Revoked

in News/Legislature

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A state representative apologized to fellow representatives on Friday morning after he was caught on a live microphone cursing one of his House colleagues and was punished by losing his privileges to participate in the Legislature’s special session remotely.

During a debate on Thursday, Rep. Steve Harshman, R-Casper, was participating in the Legislature’s special session remotely via Zoom when he was heard using foul language directed at fellow Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper.

“Chuck Gray, f*****,” he was heard saying. “Little f*******.”

Harshman, the former Speaker of the House, did not realize his audio was on when he made the comments.

He appeared in person at the beginning of the fourth day of the session to apologize to the body and Gray in particular.

“What happened yesterday was a breach of conduct on the floor of this house and it’s not acceptable and I come here to apologize for that,” Harshman said. “We’ve all worked very hard to keep that decorum, so I apologize for that. It’s wrong and I know better than that.”

Harshman apologized for creating a distraction, particularly during the special session.

Speaker of the House Rep. Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, identified three breaches of conduct Harshman committed on Thursday: Addressing the body without permission from the chair, using a name of another member and inappropriate language.

“Your conduct was unbecoming, so I want to condemn it, clearly,” Barlow said.

Due to these breaches, Harshman had his remote privileges revoked, meaning he would have to attend the rest of the session, which will last until at least Wednesday, in person.

Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette, told his colleagues that he was going to bring a motion to censure “one member and possibly two members” of the body on Monday. One is likely Harshman, but he did not clarify who the second was, saying he wanted to speak with them privately first.

“I don’t come to you with this lightly,” Bear said. “We should have already been on our best behavior, but that’s not what happened at the end of the debate.”

He asked the legislators to fast over the weekend, so they could be focused in prayer because their votes on Monday could be “pivotal.”

Bear said the incident reaffirmed his belief that allowing legislators to take part in sessions remotely would hurt the decorum of the Legislature.

“Being in a room like this, (decorum) has to be elevated so high in our hears and minds,” he said. “I feared at the time that Zoom would lighten that up.”

Carbon County Republican Chair Joey Correnti said people should have the same outrage over Rep. Harshman’s language that they did over a GOP precinct committeeman’s obscene email to a state senator “if they wanted to be looked at as relevant and legitimate.”

“Whether he did it remotely or not does not matter,” Correnti said. “As an elected member of that body his voice went out over the floor of that chamber and in that action the former Speaker of the House Representative Steve Harshman desecrated that chamber by speaking those words on its floor.”

Gray did not immediately respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment.

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