By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
An alleged death threat made by one state legislator against another has resulted in a report being filed with Cheyenne police.
Rep. Andi LeBeau, D-Ethete, said she was told that Rep. John Romero-Martinez, R-Cheyenne, made a threat against her during a phone call with a lobbyist in the closing days of the Legislature’s budget session.
LeBeau told Cowboy State Daily she was told that Romero-Martinez had said if LeBeau “got in his way,” he would kill her.
In a Sunday Facebook post, LeBeau said the incident disturbed to the extend that she skipped the last day of the session on Friday.
“My last day working on behalf of the people who brought me there was stripped from me,” wrote LeBeau, “I’m healing from a death threat. I’m processing the trauma and stress of violence still being perpetrated upon women by men.”
The report on the alleged threat was filed with the Cheyenne Police Department by former Rep. Sara Burlingame, now the director of Wyoming Equality, who said she was told she was also included in the threat.
Burlingame told Cowboy State Daily she had been told Romero-Martinez had threatened to kill both women and then kill himself.
Romero-Martinez did not respond to a phone call and text on Monday seeking comment.
LeBeau said she was told on the afternoon of March 11 that Romero-Martinez, R-Cheyenne, had made a threatening comment about her in a phone call with a lobbyist the previous day.
Burlingame, who was defeated in her 2020 House re-election bid by Romero-Martinez, had found out about the phone call hours before LeBeau, and had been trying to contact LeBeau via text.
“So I call her,” during a break from House action, LeBeau remembered. Burlingame told LeBeau on the phone that a lobbyist had related details from a “disturbing phone call” with Romero-Martinez, in which, LeBeau related, “he was basically suicidal, and then stated that if ‘they,’ meaning me and Sarah, didn’t get out of his way, he’ll just have to kill us.”
Burlingame, who said she lives near Romero-Martinez in Cheyenne, said their dealings up to this point have been cordial.
She added she had not spoken to him since the incident was reported.
Wyoming Highway Patrol officers who provide security services for the Capitol confirmed they had received a report from Burlingame that Romero-Martinez was alleged to have made an indirect verbal threat against LeBeau while on the phone with a lobbyist.
“It was a phone call between the lobbyist and him (Romero-Martinez),” said Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Clayton Barker, whose “Division O” runs security at the Capitol.
“It was just kind of a hearsay: his word versus her word, or whatever the case may be,” added Barker.
Barker said because the incident occurred away from the Capitol and outside of session hours, the patrol officers concluded that no criminal activity occurred at the Capitol.
Barker told Cowboy State Daily that Burlingame had asked to file charges against Romero-Martinez.
Barker said he advised Burlingame to contact the Cheyenne Police Department instead.
Burlingame said she did file a police report with Cheyenne PD on Monday. The details of the report were not immediately available.
No ‘Criminal Issue’
Capitol police spoke with Romero-Martinez about the phone call.
WHP spokesman Jeremy Beck said the conversation was intended “to make sure he was not a threat to himself or anyone else.”
And after that discussion, the officers concluded that Romero-Martinez was not a threat, said Beck.
The WHP report of the incident is not yet complete, he added.
‘Safe, Rather than Sorry’
LeBeau said the incident reflects a breakdown of House leadership.
She related that she had spent that Friday morning, March 11, in the House chamber with Romero-Martinez, unaware that he had allegedly made a threat.
She did not learn of the incident until an afternoon break, when she called Burlingame.
LeBeau went to the office of House Minority Floor Leader Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, to calm down.
Connolly asked House Speaker Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, to speak with LeBeau.
According to LeBeau, Barlow said he was aware of the incident and had been at a recent event with Romero-Martinez, who “looked fine” at the time, but he then instructed LeBeau on how to lodge a complaint or involve law enforcement.
LeBeau also said Rep. Sue Wilson, R-Cheyenne, had been aware of the incident but had not mentioned it that morning. Wilson, according to LeBeau, said she didn’t place much stock in the alleged comment because she thought it was typical behavior for Romero-Martinez.
Neither Wilson nor Barlow could be reached by phone for comment.
“I took a deep breath,” LeBeau related, “and said ‘I’m just going to urge you, when you hear something like this, to err on the side of being safe, rather than sorry.’”
LeBeau told Cowboy State Daily she felt the incident was a continuation of historical attitudes that sought to “get rid” of Indigenous women.
LeBeau is a Northern Arapaho tribal member.
The incident may have stemmed, LeBeau speculated, from a March 8 tribal relations meeting in which Romero-Martinez had offered a bill seeking federal support for further legal codification of American Indian treaties.
LeBeau resisted the idea strongly, saying it was “divisive” and lacked tribal support.
The Northern Arapaho Tribe does not have an official federal treaty binding it to the Wind River Indian Reservation, where it dwells alongside the Eastern Shoshone Tribe.
LeBeau told Cowboy State Daily that this co-dwelling is due to a failure on the part of the federal government to allot the Arapaho Tribe a reservation of its own.