There aren’t too many political ranking websites in Wyoming willing to show who’s behind their digital curtains.
Letting people know exactly who they are is what the new Wyoming Conservative Accountability Project is about, said Frank Moore, a member of the group and a former state legislator and 2023 Wyoming GOP chairman candidate.
“I don’t know how you give credit to something that’s put out anonymously,” Moore said. “If you’re going to say something, you should be able to stand behind it.”
The Wyoming Conservative Accountability Project aims to provide new transparency to the concept of lawmakers’ adherence to the Republican Party platform through its ranking scorecard. It considers anyone who scores 80% or above a “certified conservative.”
Unlike popular ranking -- and anonymous -- website WyoRino.com, the Accountability Project doesn’t tag derogatory labels on legislators who fall short of the 80% mark.
“We’re not going to call them anything because people have reasons for every vote,” Moore said. “We’re not out there to say, ‘You’re this or you’re that.’”
That means someone who doesn’t earn a score of a “certified conservative” won’t be labeled a “liberal” or “RINO,” he said.
Who Is It?
WYCAP is made up of a collection of former state legislators, including former Wyoming Senate President Diemer True and former legislators Jamie Flitner, Ron Micheli, Wyatt Agar and Moore.
Moore, who ran for chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party this past spring, said he was inspired to help start the website when considering the amount of misinformation spread during his chairman campaign against current Chair Frank Eathorne. He said he wants to provide a different perspective on what it means to be a Republican.
“I felt like there was a lot of misinformation being put out there and people were just believing it without question,” Moore said. “My concerns are with the misinformation out there and people are just going with it.”
The WYCAP rankings grade legislators on their votes on a variety of issues like abortion, fiscal responsibility and educational reform, and their adherence to being a “true Wyoming conservative.” Many of the stances of the website are similar to other Wyoming conservative ranking sites, but there are some differences.
“Real Wyoming conservatives care about truly protecting our way of life, not just their own re-election campaigns” Agar said in a press release. “The Wyoming Conservative Accountability Project will make sure that the voters of our state know who is voting for true Wyoming conservative values and not just putting on a performance.”
Moore said the website is not aligned with the Wyoming Freedom Caucus or the newly launched counter group the Wyoming Caucus.
What Do The Rankings Say?
The WYCAP rankings grade lawmakers based on their votes on 10 bills across seven categories.
One of the most notable features of the WYCAP rankings is that many lawmakers who did poorly on other conservative -- and anonymous -- political ranking sites scored much higher with WYCAP, like Sens. Ed Cooper, R-Thermopolis; Jim Anderson, R-Casper; Fred Baldwin, R-Kemmerer; Senate President Ogden Driksill, R-Devils Tower; and Reps. Andrew Byron, R-Jackson; House Speaker Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale; and Ryan Berger, R-Evanston.
Many of the legislators who received high scores also have received high scores from other conservative ranking sites, but not all. The lowest score on the report card was 40%, which several lawmakers had, including Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette, chairman of the Freedom Caucus.
“I would say this outfit is far from conservative,” Bear said of WYCAP. “They diverge from all of the other rating systems out there, including a new one that came out today. It is not conservative to believe that government knows how to spend your money better than you do.”
One bill WYCAP takes particular interest in from the 2023 legislative session is House Bill 7, which passed and prohibits those younger than 18 from getting married in most scenarios.
WYCAP saw a vote against this bill as being anti-Republican, a move that was made by 25 Republicans in the House and seven in the Senate.
The website also gives a high score to legislators who voted to support the supplemental budget, a measure that was vehemently opposed by the Freedom Caucus. This bill saved $3.50 for every dollar spent in the budget.
“The idea that spending $450 million during a non-budget year because you happen to have a surplus while the people of Wyoming have outrageous increases in their property taxes and little any of that was returned to them is not conservative,” Bear said.
WYCAP graded bills restricting abortion, opposing transgender girls’ participation in girls’ sports and enacting school choice options favorably.
Another bill where it differed from some of the other conservative ranking sites was House Bill 33, which offered competitive grants for public schools to buy career and technical education supplies, materials and equipment. Most of the same representatives who opposed the underage marriage bill also opposed this legislation.
Moore said WYCAP exists as a form of transparency to let the public know how their lawmakers are voting.
“If you can’t defend your vote, the public needs to know it,” he said.
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.