By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily
By a margin of nearly two-to-one, Wyoming’s Senate voted Thursday to remove Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, from his committee assignments.
Bouchard was removed from his committee assignments on a vote of 19-10 after a number of serious charges — including one that he threatened other members — were levied against him by Senate leadership.
President of the Senate Dan Dockstader, at the end of the day’s session, stepped down from the chair so he could initiate the action which some observers called “an unprecedented move.”
Dockstader, without going into specific details, said Bouchard showed “a continued pattern of intimidating and disorderly conduct and other behavior which is unbecoming of a member of the Senate.”
“Members of the Senate, this is in regards to showing open support for vulgar and threatening attacks on a member of the Senate, continued support of such statements even during the season, filming used as a threatening measure, and using intimidating tactics against members of the Senate and members of the public,” Dockstader said.
Senators voted to remove Bouchard from the Legislature’s Management Audit Committee, Senate Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee, Senate Labor, Health and Social Services Committee and Select Committee on Legislative Facilities.
Dockstader told Cowboy State Daily Bouchard’s removal from his committees will be in place until at least 2023, when a new Senate president takes office.
During brief discussion of the motion, some senators said without specific details, they had a problem voting on the motion to strip Bouchard of his committee assignments.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” said Sen. Affie Ellis, R-Cheyenne. “I just don’t know what we’re talking about and I don’t feel like I’m making an informed decision.”
Dockstader declined to provide details, choosing instead to repeat his formal statement to the Senate.
Bouchard, speaking on his own behalf, said he was in the firing line because of an incident he had with “hospital lobbyists.”
Reading from his Facebook page, he said he “told the hospital lobbyists that video was coming on their COVID fear tactics.”
Bouchard then explained that he was planning on shooting a video to show how the lobbyists were using these “fear tactics” to combat legislation.
“That’s all it is,” he said. “I don’t know why people are afraid of things that are already online.”
Bouchard repeated that he still intended to produce the video and claimed his freedom of speech was being infringed upon.
Bouchard did not discuss the charge of threatening other members of the senate.
Sen. Tom James, R-Rock Springs, an ally of Bouchard’s, said he was present at the incident cited by Dockstader and disputed the Senate president’s account.
“There was no threatening tactics,” James said. “It was just a matter of saying that we’re going to be transparent about what happened. There was nothing threatening.”
Sen. Bo Biteman, R-Sheridan, another friend of Bouchard’s, claimed the Cheyenne Republican was being targeted because there were many other senators who didn’t like him.
“Kicking somebody off of their committee because you don’t like them sets a really dangerous precedent,” he said.
That was quickly disputed by Sen. Larry Hicks who chided Biteman for the claim and said the issue was over Bouchard’s actions, not if he were a likable person.
Following the vote, Bouchard told Cowboy State Daily the 19 members who voted to remove him from his committees were “Republicans In Name Only” opposed to his conservative stances.
“The RINOS that run the state of Wyoming decided that I’m dangerous to their agenda, so they decided to kick me off of my committees,” Bouchard said. “I was told of their plan 15 minutes before they motioned to remove me. The vote was preordained. It’s called a kangaroo court.”
After the vote, Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, who voted against the action, said in the nearly 30 years that he’s been in the legislature, the removal of someone from their committee assignment has never happened.
Former state senator Diemer True, who represented Natrona County from 1971 to 1991, told Cowboy State Daily he couldn’t recall that action ever being taken either.
“This is an extraordinary event,” True said.
Bouchard has served in the Senate since 2017 and was re-elected in 2020 to a 4-year term. He is running against U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney in the GOP primary for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat.