By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
The Fremont County Republican Central Committee on Monday evening voted to issue a statement of disapproval against Republican state Sen. Cale Case of Lander.
Taken by standing vote, 11 Republican precinct committee people voted in favor of a censure of Case, while seven voted against it. Two cast their votes in favor of the censure by proxy.
Rep. Pepper Ottman, R-Riverton, voted for the censure and cast the proxy votes. Ottman later clarified to Cowboy State Daily that her vote was cast in her capacity as a precinct committee woman, not as a state lawmaker.
Precinct committeeman Steve Lynn of Pavillion brought the censure resolution, saying Case no longer represents the people he governs.
“The Cowboy State Daily article Senator Case wrote,” said Lynn, a precinct committeeman for Fremont County Precinct 14-1, “it fired me up.”
Lynn was referencing a opinion piece Case had written for Cowboy State Daily on April 24 entitled “Big Tent Republicans, We Need You.”
In it, Case expressed weariness with “Republican Party leadership,” saying it was intentionally blocking delegates from “the more moderate Natrona and Laramie counties” from taking part in the the party’s state convention, which he called an “echo chamber.”
In his call for Case’s censure, Lynn called the op-ed misinformation, but also said proposing the censure brought him “no joy.”
Earlier in the meeting, Ginger Bennett, Fremont County Republican Central Committee chairwoman, said the majority of Laramie County delegates to the state’s Republican convention were not seated at the convention because the county’s party “did not hold their elections correctly.”
“Actions have consequences,” said Bennett, adding that the body of the party “is here to hold people accountable, because we believe in the rule of law.”
As Lynn continued his argument to censure Case, he said “censure is not a tactic. It’s not to bully, it’s not rooted in hate and disparagement. Some are smirking and rolling their eyes, but I will tell you this: you work for us. Our elected officials work for the people.”
Lynn said that the Republican party does welcome dissenting views, but won’t “be all things to all people for political expediency.”
Lynn argued that Case had departed from the U.S. Constitution, Article One, Section Eight, by advocating for Medicaid expansion, which he called a violation of “limited government.”
Case, who appeared at the meeting on Monday, disagreed with Lynn.
“I have not acted to thwart the will of the governed,” Case said. “The gentleman bringing the censure is not even an elector of mine.”
Lynn’s precinct in Pavillion is not within Case’s district, which covers Lander, the Wind River Indian Reservation, other rural areas of Fremont County and a slim portion of Riverton.
Case and Lynn debated on the “necessary and proper” clause of the legislative section of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the “general welfare” clause promising Congressional delegates the power to make laws benefitting the nation.
Citing a Wyoming poll by Lori Weigel, Case claimed that 58% of Wyoming Republicans favor Medicaid expansion.
Another cause for the censure resolution, said Lynn, was Case’s testimony on behalf of convicted embezzler Rebecca Milleson at her March 10 sentencing hearing in state district court in Fremont County.
Milleson was sentenced to supervised probation, with two prison sentences to be imposed should her probation be revoked, and was ordered to pay back over $180,000 to the town of Pavillion. She was convicted of taking money from Pavillion while she was employed as the town’s clerk.
“When a Wyoming state senator speaks on behalf of a felon convicted of theft aggregate and larceny by bailee to reduce sentencing,” read Lynn from his resolution, “he is acting contrary to the will and consent of the governed.”
Case defended his participation in the judicial proceeding against Milleson by stating that he believed in her.
“I think there were extenuating circumstances to that person’s plight, and if you know the woman I’m talking about, you might know about the death of her son,” Case said.
Milleson’s son died years prior following an accidental gunshot.
“I’m a citizen just like all of you,” Case continued. “She’s entitled to a defense. She’s entitled to ask me, either in an official position, or a personal position, to act… If you knew the whole story you would not tell me I’m subverting the will of the governed by appearing in somebody’s defense at a judicial proceeding.”
John Pennington, of Shoshoni, stood to advocate for Case’s censure.
“This entire country is a wreck on account of the conga line of RINO (Republican In Name Only) Republicans that we have in our midst,” said Pennington. “They continually work to foul us up by working outside the constraints of the 18 enumerated powers of the Constitution of this country.”
Pennington said he had nothing personal against Case, but had noticed that his conservative score on sites that rank legislators by comparing their votes against party platforms was “lower than many of your Democratic cohorts.”
Another precinct committeeman, John Brown, stood to defend Case.
Brown said Case used to score as an ultra-conservative until the emergence of newer ranking sites, which, he said don’t “account for noes on bad bills.”
Brown said the sites will dock a legislator for voting “no” on a gun bill that may or may not be practically sound.
“Maybe the bill just sucked,” said Brown.
Another speaker, Jim Hellyer, said he too had been having issues with party leadership.
“If you’re serious about (the censure), I want to go down with Cale,” said Hellyer.
State Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander, told Cowboy State Daily after the vote that he disagreed with the censure, because it was brought by a party delegate not in Case’s district.
Larsen, who attended the meeting, said the move should raise concerns among other Republicans.
“Why should (Lynn) have the ability to tell the people of (Case’s) Senate district that their person should be censured?” said Larsen. “If the people of his district don’t like his position on Medicaid, or don’t like him testifying in a court case, they’re the ones that should bring up the censure issue.”
Larsen noted that the way the censure occurred concerned him, in spite of the fact that he and Case “don’t always agree on things.”