Wyoming Republicans Stand With Hageman On Tlaib Free Speech Stance

Republicans at Saturday’s Wyoming GOP meeting in Newcastle mostly expressed support for Rep. Harriet Hageman’s vote to not censure Democrat Rashida Tlaib for making antisemitic remarks.

LW
Leo Wolfson

November 04, 20235 min read

Former Republican candidate for Wyoming governor Brent Bien speaks at Saturday's state GOP meeting in Newcastle.
Former Republican candidate for Wyoming governor Brent Bien speaks at Saturday's state GOP meeting in Newcastle. (Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily)

NEWCASTLE — Although U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman’s vote against a consideration to censure Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib angered some conservatives around the nation, most Wyoming Republicans Cowboy State Daily spoke to at Saturday’s state GOP meeting in Newcastle support the move.

They were at the Newcastle Lodge and Convention Center for a regular meeting of the GOP State Central Committee that was relatively quiet compared to a Converse County GOP meeting held in October that included discussion on the possible censure of state Rep. Forrest Chadwick for violating the "oath he made to God" by not following the party line. In the end, Chadwick escaped censure.

This week's effort to censure Tlaib was made as a formal reprimand for her participation in a recent pro-Palestinian protest in which she accused Israel of genocide. Some have described her comments as antisemitic.

Hageman has said although she found Tlaib’s comments “abhorrent,” she also is a “First Amendment absolutist” and worries about the precedent that censuring her would set.

Hageman is a member of the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, a committee that she said has “uncovered clear evidence of our federal government censoring and taking action against American citizens in response to lawfully held beliefs.”

“Censuring Rep. Tlaib, or any other member with whom I disagree, would be equal to the tyrants infringing upon Constitutionally protected rights within our own federal agencies,” Hageman said in a statement after the vote. “Disagreeable speech is not the same as unlawful speech.”

Principles

State Rep. Bill Allemand, R-Midwest, said he stands with Hageman’s decision purely as a matter of principle.

“Rashida Tlaib has the right to say whatever she wants, and we have a host congress-lady who realizes that the Constitution means something,” he said.

Casper resident Dan Sabrosky took a little different perspective, saying there should be limits when it comes to free speech.

“I believe she (Tlaib) has the right to say what she wants, but as a member of that body, the body has the right to censure her for that type of speech against this country,” Sabrosky said. “That speech is against this country. If you’re going to be in that body, I think you’re held to a different standard.”

Laramie County Republican Party State Committeeman Dallas Tyrrell said it’s important that the Michigan congresswoman’s comments be exposed.

“I do support giving people the opportunity to know how full of hate people are in Congress,” he said. 

The Laramie GOP is hosting an “Understanding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” event Wednesday that will be hosted by Nathan Winters, a pro-Israel speaker. 

The Wyoming GOP Central Committee meets in Newcastle on Saturday.
The Wyoming GOP Central Committee meets in Newcastle on Saturday. (Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily)

Potential Flaws

A censure holds no legal binding or actual punishing force and is simply an expression of condemnation.

But Sabrosky agreed with Hageman’s other argument that accusing Tlaib of “leading an insurrection” in the Capitol complex when she participated in a pro-Gaza rally organized by Jewish advocacy groups last month sets a bad precedent. She said labeling the event “an insurrection” would give ammunition for people who gave the same description to the Jan. 6, 2021Capitol riot.

“I am very concerned that by including this language, we would actually be giving our opponents the weapons with which to continue to attack President Trump and the Jan. 6 defendants,” she said. “In short, the despicable display that happened in the Cannon House Office Building on Oct. 18 wasn’t an insurrection, but by claiming that it was, the resolution to censure Rep. Tlaib would have created serious consequences on other fronts and implied that what happened on Jan. 6 was also an insurrection.”

University of Wyoming student and president of the school’s Turning Point USA chapter Gabe Saint also agrees with Hageman’s decision, but said there should be limits when it comes to speech, and that he’s not a “First Amendment absolutist.” 

“Those constitutional things, the courts have laid out rules,” Saint said, referring to instances of specific threats of violence. 

His Turning Point chief of staff Nick Bogani somewhat disagreed and cited the Constitution's guarantee that Congress should make no laws prohibiting restrictions on the press or the rights of people to speak freely.

Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Brent Bien said he also stands with Hageman’s decision even though he is not a fan of Tlaib, New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and The Squad, and is an “unequivocal” supporter of Israel.

“It’s a tough one to swallow,but I’m not censoring when it comes to that free speech type of thing,” Bien said. 

Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter