Dave Simpson: Tom Horn Got More Due Process Than Anthony Bouchard

Columnist Dave Simpson writes: "I hope Sen. Anthony Bouchard will continue to address the needs of his district and our state, and forego his pursuit of slime balls and swamp monsters."

Dave Simpson

December 13, 20224 min read

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Can this marriage be saved?

I’ve got my doubts.

And unlike most of you, I’ve got a dog in this fight.

I’m talking about the Hatfield/McCoy feud currently going on between the guy who represents me in the Wyoming State Senate, Anthony Bouchard, and outgoing Senate President Dan Dockstader, and incoming Senate President Ogden Driskill.

Their differences may be irreconcilable..

Last session of the Legislature, a lobbyist for the state hospital association said Bouchard bullied and intimidated him (ha, ha, ha) over a bill to allow relatives to be with dying family members. The lobbyist tattled to Senate leadership, which figured this was the final straw for Bouchard (not a very popular guy, pretty feisty) and the Senate voted 19 to 10 to throw my senator off his assigned committees.

Which Senate old timers couldn’t remember ever happening before.

Doesn’t that mean I had less voice in the Senate, unlike your senator, who didn’t get kicked off his/her/their committee like mine did? Where’s the equity here, people?

They kicked him off despite, apparently, a formal procedure for disciplining fellow lawmakers, which was never pursued, and has only recently been deemed unnecessary if my guy behaves himself. (I don’t know about you, but behaving him/her/they self is not something I look for in a lawmaker.) But the procedure, according to Dockstader, would likely have succeeded because there was “likely probable cause.” (Likely? Probable? Well, maybe. And if a pig had wings, he’d be an eagle.)

So, if you watch a lot of Western movies, they held the hanging – dumping Bouchard from his committees – before they even filed a charge against him and a jury found him guilty. (Tom Horn got more due process.)  Looks like a serious cart-before-the-horse situation, especially when the courts are so picky about following procedures you took the time and effort to pass in the first place.

Now, like any troubled uniting of disparate persons, my state senator is not blameless in this imbroglio. Incoming Senate President Ogden Driskill is on record that he does not like people referring to state government as ”the swamp.” And Bouchard is on record as referring to Driskill as a “swamp monster.” And he called  Senate Vice President Larry Hicks “a slime ball.”

(Note: I didn’t vote for Bouchard because of his ability to win friends and influence people. Just sayin’.)

But, Bouchard has a pretty stellar conservative voting record, and as I did with Donald Trump, I tend to stick with a guy who reflects my beliefs and gets results, even if he sometimes says things I wish he wouldn’t.

I still get a laugh at the notion that a well-paid lobbyist (those guys wore suits that cost more than my car back when I was a reporter) tattled that Bouchard – a guy who has a business emptying septic tanks – was mean to him. When I did some reporting at the Legislature, the lobbyists sat on the risers up in the gallery of the House, looking down like cats that just ate the canaries, and sizing up the next batch of canaries. They were the most tuned in people in the building.

Bullied by Bouchard? Intimidated? That’s a knee-slapper.

Driskill has reportedly asked Senate committee chairs, and Bouchard, to promise to behave, or resign from their committees if they do not. To which Bouchard (who has been reinstated to one committee)  responded, “I’m not going to kiss anybody’s ring.” (Feisty, ain’t he?)

As a resident of Bouchard’s district, I hope he will continue to address the needs of his district and our state, and forego his pursuit of slime balls and swamp monsters. If not, I’ll look for a new state senator. But so far, I like the conservative things he stands for. And while I wish he’d be more circumspect about the things he says, I’ll probably keep voting for him.

My hope is that his fellow senators can cowboy up and accept the ornery son of a gun I send to the Senate, roll their eyes when he pops off, and maybe think to themselves, “There he goes again.”

So far, and until something better comes along, he’s my guy.

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Dave Simpson

Political, Wyoming Life Columnist

Dave has written a weekly column about a wide variety of topics for 39 years, winning top columnist awards in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska.