JACKSON — The Wyoming Republican Party passed a resolution at its quarterly Central Committee meeting Saturday encouraging voters in Albany County to boot state Rep. Karlee Provenza, D-Laramie, and instead “elect a legislator with better integrity.”
In April, Provenza shared a controversial meme on social media showing an elderly woman holding a rifle with a scope and the words "Auntie Fa Says protect trans folks against fascists & bigots!" Auntie Fa is a reference to the left-wing anti-fascist group Antifa.
The final version of the resolution, which said Provenza’s post was made in “bad taste,” was amended from a more aggressive draft originally proposed by the Lincoln County Republican Party. The original resolution strongly encouraged the Wyoming House of Representatives to take further disciplinary action against Provenza, up to and including expelling her from the Legislature.
Provenza did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday evening.
Apparently, Not Settled
Wyoming House Speaker Rep. Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale, said April 12 he wouldn’t take any disciplinary action against Provenza, who apologized for the post and said she made it in a show of support of Second Amendment defense for LGBTQ people.
The Wyoming Republican Party’s resolution will likely be the last formative action taken against Provenza.
The voters of Provenza’s House District 45 had no choice when it came to electing her in 2022, as she was unopposed.
In 2020, Provenza beat Albany County Republican Chairman Roxie Hensley by about 4% of the vote.
On Saturday, Hensley requested that the state party help the Albany County GOP find a candidate to take on Provenza in the 2024 election, assuming she runs again.
Provenza’s post ignited a conservative firestorm, with coverage on Fox News and state GOP Chairman Frank Eathorne requesting Sommers remove Provenza from her committee positions.
Eathorne won a third consecutive term as chairman earlier Saturday.
There was little response from Republicans after Sommers issued his decision and that lack of urgency continued when the resolution was discussed Saturday
A few party members said a line cannot be drawn when it comes to free speech.
Lincoln County Republican Party Chairman Wade Hirschi said when his county party originally drafted the resolution, they requested Provenza be expelled from the Legislature. But they softened that language, instead encouraging the House to take disciplinary action against Provenza that could include expulsion.
On Saturday, Wyoming Republicans also considered, but rejected, a proposed resolution to ask U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, to explain why she co-sponsored a bill establishing a government-wide approach to improving digital identity protection.
The Improving Digital Identity Act of 2023 creates a public-private task force on digital identity that aims to improve cybersecurity and encourage states to give people the ability to conveniently access critical services online. In short, the task force would consider how the government could validate identity traits digitally.
The bill was introduced to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on March 29 and is now headed to the Senate floor.
If passed, the party would have sent a letter requesting how individual liberties will not be diminished by the bill. It also requested Lummis withdraw the bill, which she co-sponsored with U.S. Sen. Krysten Sinema, D-Arizona, or create new legislation fighting it.
The resolution, which was rejected by an overwhelming margin, originated from Big Horn County out of a concern it would go beyond the task force’s study of the issue. Also concerning was that the task force would include too many members from federal agencies and not enough input from state and local sources. In the legislation, 11 federal agencies are mentioned for participation.
Members of the Big Horn County GOP held a conference call with Lummis’ staff Thursday where they attempted to answer these questions, but the party’s members said they still had concerns about it.
Mary Martin, chairman of the Teton County Republican Party, spoke against the resolution. She said Lummis’ bill would set up a task force to find out what can be done to catch cybercriminals.
“Her (Lummis) bill, it’s trying to protect us,” Martin said. “I have worked with people who have their identity stolen, it takes a tremendous amount of effort to try to resolve and protect yourself from damages.”
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com