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By Leo Wolfson, State Politics Reporter
On Wednesday, Senate President Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, wiped away any doubt that two ethics complaints made against state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, aren’t being considered. If Bouchard receives a third strike, his time in the Senate may be over.
“I believe the facts as stated in the complaints are very concerning,” Driskill wrote in a letter (below) sent to Bouchard on Wednesday. “Members of the public should never be personally attacked for honest testimony provided by a legislative committee.”
Two ethics complaints were filed against Bouchard in the past week.
The first came from Sheridan lobbyist Gail Symons last Friday, made on behalf of an unnamed lobbyist, accusing Bouchard of making concerning Facebook posts. In the complaint submitted to Driskill, Symons attached five screenshots from Bouchard’s legislative Facebook page, where she accused him of using “abusive and inflammatory language against members of the public exercising their 1st Amendment rights.”
The second complaint was filed on Sunday by Green River resident Jennifer James. James filed an ethics complaint on Bouchard for calling her a “f**king idiot” in a private text message.
Driskill warned Bouchard that he will have “zero tolerance” for any future complaints made about him threatening members of the public or Senate, and if he receives another “substantiated” complaint, Driskill will forward that complaint to the full Senate to consider potential disciplinary action against him.
Driskill said Bouchard declined to provide any written answer to the complaints, which leads the Senate president to believe the allegations made in the complaints are true.
Driskill said potential disciplinary actions could include:
- Removal from committees
- Expulsion from the Senate
“I would hope you take my statements in this letter to heart,” Driskill said. “While I understand your passion for legislation you have worked on and sponsored, that passion does not excuse disrespectful and abusive behavior.”
Bouchard did not immediately respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Driskill’s warning.
What’s It From?
Both ethics complaints stemmed from recent comments Bouchard made while discussing his “Chloe’s Law,” legislation that would prohibit doctors from performing transgender-related treatments on minors. Bouchard described medical professionals who oppose his bill as “Doctors for grooming.”
“To hint at possible violence and to imply a lobbyist organization of medical professionals is acting pursuant to a desire to sexually harm children is unbecoming of a member of the Wyoming Senate,” Driskill wrote.
In another Facebook post, Bouchard accused those in the medical field lobbying against his bill as inserting “themselves in the political arena” and “advocating for minors to have sex change procedures.” He has also referred to doctors who perform these surgeries as “butchers” on multiple other occasions.
James, a clinical nurse specialist and doctor of nursing practice, testified against a bill Bouchard sponsored last week and said it was unconstitutional. These comments became a focus for Bouchard’s ire because he believed they were misleading.
Driskill said members of the Senate are expected to adhere to a high standard of decorum when communicating with the public.
Bouchard was already on thin ice entering the session. He was stripped of all his interim committee positions and seat on the Management Council during the 2022 session for allegations of a “long pattern” of misconduct, according to Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, at the time.
Another ethics complaint was filed on Bouchard by Wyoming Hospital Association President Eric Boley during last year’s session, after the two engaged in an animated conversation at the Capitol in which Boley accused the state senator of intimidation, bullying and calling him a liar.
“Troubling me even further is the fact that during the last session a member of the public filed a complaint against you for your abusive behavior during legislative committee meetings,” Driskill writes. “Three complaints against you for very similar behavior are three complaints too many.”
James told Cowboy State Daily she thought Driskill’s response was fair, but said Bouchard is continuing to retaliate against her.
On Wednesday morning, Bouchard explicitly stated on Facebook that he stands behind calling James a “f**king idiot” and included a photo of her in his post.
“Dr. James testimony was extremely misleading,” Bouchard said. “As she testified about WPATH being the ‘so-called’ safe standard that supposedly protects minors from sex change procedures. Dr. James omitted a very important detail from her testimony.”