Rod Miller: An Easy Win for the Wyoming Freedom Caucus

Columnist Rod Miller writes, "Joe Ricketts intends to build a chi-chi destination resort for other zillionaires in a pristine corner of Wyoming, and -- get this -- he wants to change the name of Bondurant to 'Little Jackson Hole.' I kid you not!"

Rod Miller

April 03, 20244 min read

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Dear Freedom Caucus folks:

You’ve been through a rough patch lately and I’d like to help.

You’ve taken your lumps during the recent budget session and your push for a special session was shot down in flames. That had to hurt. 

But here’s an opportunity to get back in the saddle with the good people of Wyoming and prove that you have their best interests at heart.

As you may have heard, an uber-rich outsider named Joe Ricketts (who invented day trading and owns the Chicago Cubs) is buying up all the land he can get his greedy hands on in the Upper Hoback country.

Ricketts intends to build a chi-chi destination resort for other zillionaires in that pristine corner of the Cowboy State, smack dab in the middle of a critical wildlife migration route.

And, get this, he wants to change the name of Bondurant to “Little Jackson Hole." I kid you not!

Money has always been tight in the small ranching communities of Wyoming and Ricketts apparently believes that his wallet is fat enough to shove the local citizens around and to get his way.

We’ve seen this brand of rich man hubris before in the Big Empty and the result is something that raises the Brown & Gold hackles on anyone who loves the heritage of our state.

The original Jackson Hole is a prime example.

Money like that looks at a place like Wyoming and drools over the possibilities.

Money like that considers long-time citizens as minor impediments to outsiders’ grandiose plans for their home. Money like that changes everything – even the name of the places we love.

The Wyoming Freedom Caucus has never, to my knowledge, pointed to Jackson Hole and said “That’s what we want the rest of Wyoming to become.” I’m equally confident in saying that you Freedom Caucus folks bristle at the notion of rich outsiders changing the names of our towns to suit their own purposes.

That’s why I think that this issue is tailor-made for the Wyoming Freedom Caucus to make a stand and show the rest of us where your priorities are.

Sadly, too many of your fellow citizens think that you are only in politics to tell women what to do with their bodies, to tell us all where we should carry guns, to let small towns die and to short-change the widows of our fallen cops. 

Here’s where you can change that perception of your outfit.

If you weigh in on this issue and stand shoulder to shoulder with those folks in the Upper Hoback who are trying to resist Ricketts’ nonsense, I think you could hang an important trophy on your wall.

It isn’t a legislative matter, because what Ricketts is doing is probably legal and constitutional. But is it a Wyoming value? We both know the answer to that question.

All it would take would be for y’all to use your elected offices as bully pulpits to clearly let Ricketts and his ilk know that they’ll change Wyoming, even her names, when they pry her from out cold, dead hands. 

Consult your well-thumbed copy of Wyoming’s Code of the West, paying particular attention to items 9 and 10, “Remember that some things are not for sale” and “know where to draw the line.”

If the Wyoming Freedom Caucus is ready to cowboy up and push back against what needs some pushin’, count me in. I’ll help like hell.

Our Wyoming friends and neighbors in beautiful part of our state could use a posse ridin’ in to help in their time of need. And they’re watchin’ to see what you’ll do.

Rod Miller can be reached at:

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Rod Miller

Political Columnist