Park County Republican Party Censures Mark Gordon Over Vetoes

The Park County Republican Party censured Gov. Mark Gordon on Thursday over vetoes the governor made to bills passed during the recent legislative session. The sharply-worded censure passed on a 62-24 vote.

Leo Wolfson

April 05, 20248 min read

Gov. Mark Gordon addresses the 2024 Wyoming legislative session.
Gov. Mark Gordon addresses the 2024 Wyoming legislative session. (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

The Park County Republican Party has been active in censuring and calling out some Republican lawmakers, and made Gov. Mark Gordon its most recent target Thursday, censuring the governor for vetoes he made to bills passed during the recent legislative session.

The sharply-worded censure passed on a 62-24 vote after about 45 minutes of discussion and was mostly focused on three of Gordon’s vetoes, most notably his killing a property tax relief bill popular with legislators.

The resolution states that it’s censuring Gordon “in the strongest possible terms … for his lack of empathy for and treatment of Wyoming citizens and homeowners while at the same time promoting un-conservative big government.”

A spokesperson for Gordon said he isn’t backing off what he said about the property tax bill or his veto of it.

“Governor Gordon stands behind his decision to veto the flawed legislation referenced in this document,” said Michael Pearlman, a spokesperson for the governor. “Republicans want true tax reform, not temporary wealth redistribution.”

Gordon signed four bills that addressed Second Amendment rights and four bills seeking to provide property tax relief, he said. He also supports a measure going before the voters this fall to add a fourth taxation class residential taxation, which theoretically could allow for more flexibility in taxation rates in the future.

Property Taxes

Park County GOP Committeeman Vince Vanata said when Gordon made his vetoes in March, he found a way to offend as many people as possible in Wyoming. He believes Gordon is acting as a lame-duck governor, not representing people in Wyoming.

“Every person in that room is affected by those vetoes Gordon made,” Vanata said. “If he picked a year where he could get the majority of the population upset, it was 2024.”

The resolution spends most of its focus on Senate File 54, which would have exempted 25% up to $2 million of assessed value for homes.

“Any property owner, this affects them significantly,” Vanata said.

Gordon criticized the funding sources for this bill as not well thought out, and the bill itself unfair, resulting in “a socialistic type of wealth transfer” and a “Bidenomic-type of tax relief.”

The resolution asserts that comments like these “literally added insult to injury” and were hypocritical when considering how the state’s budget grew in 2024.

Pearlman said the resolution also uses inaccurate figures when referring to the budget, which the party claims grew 30% in one year. He said the budget has only grown 3.7% during Gordon’s time in office, a much lower growth than the national inflation rate.

‘Over The Top’

Colin Simpson, former Wyoming House speaker and son of former Wyoming U.S. Sen. Al Simpson, was one of the 24 to vote against the censure.

Simpson said he also disagrees with Gordon’s vetoes and that he may even have supported censuring the governor if the resolution hadn’t been so sharply toned.

“I think the censure is over the top,” he said. “They seem to be a product of whoever is writing these censures, wanting them to be as inflammatory as possible.

“We can disagree, but we have to maintain respect and decorum regardless of our feelings. This censure fails to do that in an ugly way.”

Simpson said he found the censure unfair and believes that most people haven’t even read Gordon’s veto letters, which were not provided to those attending Thursday’s meeting. He believes the veto letters were actually an effort by Gordon to try and express empathy to the people of Wyoming.

“I see a great deal of empathy and explaining why he’s trying to protect the people,” Simpson said. “Without seeing the veto message themselves it’s not transparent.”

Other Issues

Vanata said all of Park County’s elected officials who attended the meeting voted against the censure, aside from state Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, R-Cody.

The resolution also calls out vetoes Gordon made on a bill banning gun-free zones in Wyoming, and another putting stricter regulation on Wyoming’s abortion clinics and requiring women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound at least 48 hours before getting the operation.

The resolution also criticizes Gordon for admonishing legislators. This was in reference to claims made by Park County state Sens. Tim French and Dan Laursen that Gordon brought them into his office during the 2023 session and reprimanded them after voting against a board appointment Gordon had made.

“There’s a lot of hypocrisy going around,” Simpson said.

Simpson, who served in the Legislature for 11 years, said there is nothing unusual about this treatment. When he commented at the meeting that there has been back-and-forth between the governor and the Legislature for 100 years, someone responded from the audience that it has been going on for 100 years too long.

Vanata believes the governor’s interactions were inappropriate and that there should always be a clear separation between members of the executive and legislative branches of government.

“One doesn’t rule over the other,” he said. “They’re all supposed to operate independently. They all need to stay in their lane.”

Past And Future

The Park County Republican Party was the first in Wyoming to censure former congresswoman Liz Cheney, which was eventually followed by the state GOP and Republican National Committee.

It also reprimanded U.S. Sen. John Barrasso for a vote he made in 2022 to support a government spending bill, and was the first county party to issue a statement of no confidence against Gordon in 2023, which was also later approved by the state party.

Vanata said he hopes Park County is guiding the rest of the Wyoming Republicans on calling out lawmakers they don’t believe are holding up the party’s principles.

Simpson believes it’s counterproductive to criticize Gordon’s rhetoric while also being disrespectful toward him in the process. A piece of the originally drafted resolution encouraging Wyoming residents to not honor or respect Gordon was removed.

Simpson believes cancel culture is well and alive on both sides of the political aisle.

“Being inflammatory and ugly is not becoming of the Republican Party at all,” he said. “We’re engaging in our own cancel culture.”

Although the resolution encourages other Wyoming county parties to enact similar censures, Vanata said he doesn’t think the Park County GOP plans to push for its censure to be adopted by the state GOP at its convention later this month. But he also added there’s nothing stopping another county GOP party from acting.

The resolution also encourages Wyoming GOP leadership to disinvite Gordon from the upcoming convention that will be held April 18-20 in Cheyenne.

It is unknown whether Gordon still plans to attend the convention. He spoke at the 2022 convention in Sheridan.

As of now, Vanata said U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman is the only local elected official officially scheduled to attend and speak.

Do Censures Matter?

Many who are critical of the Wyoming GOP have questioned whether censures and sharp rebukes make any kind of difference. A censure holds no legal bearing and is merely a statement of condemnation.

Vanata believes they empower everyday people to make their voices heard.

“When you’re engaged in a political party, you have that mechanism of response,” he said.

Also, due to the influx of cable and online news, more people than ever are engaged with their news and local politics. Further, every second of the Legislature can now be watched online, live or after the fact. Most votes a legislator makes can also be easily tracked.

“I just hope that we can adopt a greater attitude of civility in our writing of these censures,” Simpson said. “I hope we can come to a greater sense of civility when trying to convey our thoughts, without taking away from talking seriously and becoming nasty.”

Although censures have been used significantly more in the last few years, they're not an entirely new practice for the Wyoming GOP. In 2014, a few different county GOP parties censured former Gov. Matt Mead, a measure that was rejected at the state level.

The Park County GOP also considered a censure of one of its own precinct committee members in 2021 who had sent a vulgar message to a Cheyenne legislator, but ended up voting that proposal down.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter