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Wyoming Attorneys Send Second Letter To Hageman Condemning Her For Election Denials

in Harriet Hageman/News/politics

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By Leo Wolfson, State Political Reporter
Leo@Cowboystatedaily.com

An ongoing feud between Wyoming Republican U.S. Congress candidate Harriet Hageman and some of the state’s most prominent attorneys continues to evolve.

Fifty-one attorneys have signed a second letter to Hageman addressing her response to their original letter, which she described as “threatening.” 

The original letter and Friday’s response from the attorneys request Hageman stop making comments about the 2020 presidential election being “stolen” and fraudulent, claims they say are blatantly false.

“She has an obligation to tell the truth to people,” said Jack Speight, a Cheyenne attorney and former chairman of the Wyoming GOP. “When you’re an attorney, you have an obligation to support the court’s rulings. You may disagree with them, but you have to follow them.”

The follow-up letter takes a slightly more conciliatory tone than the first, requesting in conclusion that she “respect our views, the oath that we all share as lawyers, and the new oath you will seemingly take as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.”

But Jackson attorney Bill Schwartz said the attorneys felt compelled to double-down on their request after taking offense to Hageman releasing their letter to the public, issuing a press release about the letter and posting it on her campaign website.

“We’re asking her to think about the whole electoral issue and think about it as a lawyer and not think about it as a politician,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz said the first letter, signed by himself and 40 other attorneys, was never meant to be public. 

No Change Of Stance

One of Hageman’s campaign managers, Tim Murtaugh, had a curt response to the newest letter.

“Harriet heard them the first time,” Murtaugh said. “They don’t like her opinion and want her silenced. Same response applies.”

In her original response, Hageman accused the attorneys of trying to curb her First Amendment rights.

Story Behind The Words

Schwartz said he received several emails from people disparaging him for the first letter, telling him those who signed it should be disbarred and/or sent to California.

“These kinds of responses, and worse, are what happens when political leaders peddle misinformation and innuendo in support of their electoral ambitions,” the letter reads.

He said the group of attorneys that have signed the letter are part of a loosely organized contingency known as “Wyoming Lawyers For The Rule Of Law.” He said many revisions are made among the group and not any single person is organizing the effort.

“We have no leadership, no mission,” he said. “When someone can’t sleep at night, this is what it generates.”

The group first came together in response to Republican U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis’ first vote to reject the Pennsylvania slate of electors from the 2020 election.

“We sent a letter saying the rule of law matters,” Schwartz said.

‘Support, Obey And Defend’ The System

The newest letter reiterates many of the points made in the first. It asks Hageman to accept the rulings made by more than 60 courts that the 2020 election was sound, whether she likes it or not. The letter mentions how nearly all attorneys have encountered court decisions they don’t agree with during the course of their careers.

“In all of the cases, as lawyers, we were required by our oath to accept the outcome and to ‘support, obey and defend’ the legal system that was created by the Constitution and laws of the United States and the State of Wyoming – even when we thought, as we often did, that the final result was wrong,” the letter reads.

The second letter asserts that attorneys are not free to publicly attack the courts, judges or the legal process as a result of being on the losing side of a case. This is partially true, but many attorneys on the losing side of cases have spoken against those decisions.

In her response to the first letter, Hageman described the authors as “elitist” and “leftists.”

“While we acknowledge that we are privileged to be Wyoming lawyers, we are no more ‘elitist’ than you are, and we certainly do not identify as ‘leftists,’” the second letter says in response.

Speight said Hageman was able to earn former President Donald Trump’s endorsement by accepting “the big lie,” the claim that the 2020 presidential election was illegitimate. 

Hageman had been relatively vague about her thoughts on the 2020 election until a June debate, where she said questions need to be asked about election integrity on a national level. At a political forum in August, she upped the ante, saying the election was “rigged” and a “travesty.” 

Schwartz said this was where, for many, she crossed the line.

Schwartz and Speight both said they believed Hageman slightly walked back her claims about the 2020 election based on her response to their first letter. In that response, Hageman only mentioned having “concerns about the 2020 election” and that she “holds a different opinion of the 2020 election than” the letter writers do.

Who’s Behind It?

There were 10 more names on Friday’s new letter including Speight, but also a few noteworthy subtractions. Wyoming State Bar President Chris Hawks and Anna Reeves Olsen, president-elect of the state bar, both were signers of the first letter but not the second.

Schwartz said they held back from joining the second letter because they are now officers of the Wyoming State Bar Association and their participation could suggest the State Bar was endorsing the letter.

Darby Hoggatt, a Fort Collins, Colorado, attorney, sent a letter to the Wyoming State Bar in July requesting it investigate Hageman for her comments. Hoggatt recently expressed frustration that the bar quickly rejected his request. 

On Monday, Hoggatt sent a new request asking the organization publicly investigate Hageman or resign its top leadership.

Speight and Schwartz both said they have no interest in having the State Bar take action against Hageman. 

Numerous prominent members of the Wyoming legal community, such as William Hiser, former president of the bar, and Devon O’Connell, past president of the Wyoming Bar Association, both signed the second letter. 

Schwartz said there are many people within the legal community who agree with the sentiment of the letter but were uncomfortable signing it.

“They’re people who have relationships with Harriet or John Sundahl,” Schwartz said about Hageman and her husband, who’s also an attorney.

Schwartz said he’s unsure if Hageman’s reputation among Wyoming attorneys has been damaged beyond repair, but he and Speight both believe she could still redeem herself.

“Let’s see what she does as a public official,” Speight said. “We’ll see if this was an exception to the rule or an exception that proves the rule.”

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