By Leo Wolfson, State Political Reporter
A group of attorneys has penned a letter to U.S. House Republican candidate Harriet Hageman expressing deep concern about her views that the 2020 presidential election was rigged. Nearly all the 41 attorneys who signed the letter are from Wyoming.
A press release from the candidate’s campaign claims the lawyers “barely disguised their threat to file a bar complaint against Hageman if she does not stop exercising her First Amendment right to free speech.”
Her campaign also described the letter – delivered to Hageman’s home, law office and campaign post office box – as “threatening.”
“Make no mistake, this letter is meant as a threat against me simply because I hold a different political opinion – one that is shared by a majority of Wyoming voters,” Hageman says in the Thursday morning press release. “And this is exactly what (U.S. Rep.) Liz Cheney’s allies and the left do to Trump supporters and conservatives at every turn – attempt to threaten, intimidate and cancel anyone who doesn’t see the world the way they do.”
Lawyers who signed onto the Sept. 12 letter include former Wyoming Attorney General Pat Crank, former Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Mike Golden, former Wyoming Assistant Attorney General Scott Garland, Casper attorney Pat Holscher and Cheyenne attorney Ben Rowland. Several attorneys from Colorado and an attorney from Arizona also signed the letter.
“We feel compelled to express our deep concern and disappointment that in recent weeks you have chosen to lend your credibility as a Wyoming lawyer to the myth that the 2020 presidential election was stolen,” the letter says.
Crank told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday morning that he was asked to sign the letter by Jackson attorney Bill Schwartz, and that he “was honored to sign on.”
He said he has full confidence in Wyoming’s elections and the state’s 23 county clerks.
Crank said he didn’t see the letter as threatening; rather, more of a reminder that attorneys take an oath, just like law enforcement officers, to uphold the law.
“My thought was that maybe Ms. Hageman would come to her senses and uphold the rule of law after reading the letter and stop perpetuating nonsensical and damaging lies to advance her own political gain,” he said.
Hageman, a Trump-endorsed land and water attorney who last month soundly beat Cheney in the Wyoming Republican primary election, has said the 2020 election was “rigged” and a “travesty.” Trump was the predominant focus of the race as Cheney has been one of Trump’s most outspoken critics since he began his attempts to overturn the election results.
“Absolutely the election was rigged. It was rigged to make sure that President (Donald) Trump could not get reelected,” Hageman said during an August debate in Casper. “What happened in 2020 is a travesty. It should never happen again. We need to make sure our elections are free and fair.”
The letter directly addresses this comment.
“Surely you know that these statements were both false and incendiary,” the letter says. “Not only did they serve to undermine public confidence in the outcome of our last presidential election, but they were also contrary to at least the spirit, if not the letter, of the oath you and the rest of us swore upon our admission to the Wyoming bar.”
The letter writers go on to explain why they don’t believe the election was rigged and how many courts and other federal oversight agencies have come to the same conclusion. The letter references Cheney being uncomfortable with campaigning in Wyoming during the primary because of her views.
The letter also mentions the Republican primary for the Secretary of State race, where State Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne, lost to Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, a candidate who espouses similar claims questioning the results of the election.
“This should be highly disturbing to every Wyoming lawyer,” the letter says. “We want you to know that we believe your comments about a rigged election were not supportive of the Rule of Law, have contributed to destabilizing our democratic institutions, and were inconsistent with our collective duties as members of the Wyoming bar.”
The letter reminds Hageman of the legal commitments she made to become a member of the Wyoming bar and asks her to make no further statements denying the lawfulness of the 2020 election. It also asks her to challenge or at least distance herself from those who make these claims.
Hageman said she suspects the letter is part of a larger, national movement spurned by “leftists” and “political insiders” to target Republican lawyers who have “concerns” about the 2020 election. She thinks the letter may have used a template provided by the65project, an organization that has targeted lawyers who have brought lawsuits trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election “or who otherwise violate their professional responsibilities to undermine our democracy,” according to its website. It has filed ethics complaints against 15 conservative state attorneys general and various other prominent lawyers.
Crank denied any coordination with the65project organization.
In the immediate aftermath of the 2020 election, lawyers supporting Trump filed 65 lawsuits across the swing states to overturn the election results. Nearly all were rejected in court.
Hageman did not change her rhetoric on the subject in her Thursday press release, saying there are ongoing concerns about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s influence in elections and Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting laws.
“As a constitutional attorney, I have spent my career fighting for the rights of others, and now a group of my fellow lawyers is trying to squelch my own First Amendment rights because they disagree with me,” Hageman said. “And let’s be clear – this is not just an attack on me, it’s also aimed at conservative Wyomingites and anyone who supports President Trump.”