The Wyoming Republican Party wants a member to pay the party more than $5,000 for legal fees it incurred defending a small claims court case.
In May, Laramie County GOP precinct committeeman Jack Mueller filed a $675.41 claim in Laramie County Circuit Court against the state party for expenses he incurred at the 2022 State GOP convention. Most of Laramie County’s 37 delegates, including Mueller, were prevented from being seated at the convention because of a procedural mistake made at the county party level.
Mueller wanted the state party to reimburse his convention registration fee, motel and travel costs.
Judge Doesn’t Pay Out
When Mueller’s small claims case was heard in Laramie County Circuit Court in June, he was only awarded $53.69 for his filing and processing fees on the case, which the Wyoming GOP paid within nine days of the decision.
Mueller said Judge Sean Chambers viewed the dispute as a private political party matter, not something for the court to decide.
Although the small claim case is closed, the state party says it incurred $5,641.50 in legal and other expenses related to the case, and they want it back.
“Which we seek to recover,” Wyoming GOP Chairman Frank Eathorne said at the party’s Central Committee meeting in Laramie on Saturday.
Mueller described the more than $5,000 cost to Cowboy State Daily as “ludicrous.”
Not Ready To Move On
Eathorne called Mueller’s claim a “frivolous action” and asked the state party to send the matter of getting legal fees back to its Dispute Resolution Committee. This committee will then bring a recommendation back to the party’s Central Committee with a recommendation to go after the $5,000 or not.
Dani Olsen, a Laramie County Republican Party state committeewoman, said Mueller has withdrawn a request to have the dispute resolved within the party and advocated not having the issue brought before the Dispute Resolution Committee.
Carbon County Republican Joey Correnti opposed Olsen’s proposal to move past the issue, saying the party should decide how it wants to move forward.
The motion to move the issue to the Resolution Committee passed by an overwhelming majority.
A Lot More To The Story
Mueller said he originally only requested a return of his $175 convention registration fee. He and three others then sent a larger request for reimbursement in December 2022.
After receiving no response to that request and another made in February, Mueller filed his small claims court action this spring.
“The whole thing could have been settled differently,” he said.
Prior to the 2022 convention, Mueller said he had attended and was seated at all but one State Republican Party convention held since 1960. He also has attended every Republican National Convention during that time, except for 2020, which was highly restricted because of COVID-19 restrictions. He also served as a delegate at seven national conventions.
Mueller is a former chairman of the state GOP and was former President Ronald Reagan’s campaign manager in New Mexico.
To have his participation canceled in 2022, Mueller said, “makes one extremely angry.” He said he doesn’t have any plans to reimburse the party.
“I’m not going to take it lying down,” he said.
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.