Tom Lubnau: Out-Of-State Money Flooding Into Wyoming To Influence Elections

Columnist Tom Lubnau writes, " It’s funny, a disproportionate number of candidates who are endorsed by these out of state groups have only lived in Wyoming a couple years."

Tom Lubnau

July 10, 20245 min read

Lubnau head 2
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Election season is upon us. Like manure in a barn, mailers, social media ads and billboards are beginning to bury our view shed in piles and piles of stuff we need to shovel out of the way.

In Idaho, out of state influences spent $1.2 million dollars of dark money to influence Idaho elections.

Much of the dung dropping contains totally untrue statements about candidates. There is no real recourse for the outright lies, half-truths and derogatory statements in this new era of provocative negativity

Well-financed interest groups, from out of state, are trying to influence our elections.

Why is it so dang important to these out-of-state interests to influence our elections?

Perhaps, they want to influence Wyoming policy. But to what end?

Maybe to affect broader policy discussions? 

Wyoming's political decisions can have broader implications. For instance, senators from Wyoming can impact federal legislation. Influencing state elections could help shape the national political landscape.

Businesses operating in or dependent on Wyoming’s resources and industries may seek to ensure that local policies favor their economic interests, such as favorable tax rates, subsidies, or environmental regulations.  Perhaps, that is where the benefit lies.

Another consideration might be Wyoming has a significant amount of federally managed public land. Policies and decisions regarding the use of these lands (for conservation, recreation, or resource extraction) can have wide-ranging effects beyond state borders.

But a deeper analysis of these proposed reasons doesn’t seem to reveal any true economic justification for meddling in Wyoming elections to the degree we are seeing out of state dollars flood the state.

The candidates who are largely supported by these interest groups are not typically pro-business, pro-development folks. One has to wonder what the real reasons people invest significant money to meddle in our elections from out of state.

What big money interests would benefit from Wyoming taking an ultra-conservative, low government, low tax government?


One possibility is billionaires who want to treat Wyoming as a tax haven might want to invest in keeping Wyoming’s taxes law, regulations minimized and keep government from intruding on the people.

They certainly like our low-tax environment. They like a weak government that does not stand up to their whims. They like an environment where they can come to the state and not be bothered by the government.

A few of those billionaire folks have shown up and wanted to change Wyoming to the way they see it should be. (See “Little Jackson Hole” for example.) But, no real evidence exists they are financing the electoral meddling, unless it is occurring on the sly.

Another possibility is someone who is already here, who is using shills to act in their stead to influence politics the way they want them to go.

Wyoming has a disproportionate representation in the United States Senate. If they can change the training ground for Wyoming senators, they can obtain influence over candidate beholden to them? 

One might suspect blowhards with extra money trying to change politics, and Wyoming is an easy target due to low population.

This possibility seems implausible. Cynicism would dictate that no one spends the kind of money that is being dumped into Wyoming from outside the state without some ulterior motive.

 It’s funny, a disproportionate number of candidates who are endorsed by these out of state groups have only lived in Wyoming a couple years. What does that tell us?

 More questions than answers arise. Typically, this column tries to provide researched answers, but none are readily apparent that justify the volume of dollars dumping into our state.

 And, given our current chief elected official, I suspect answers as to the motives behind out-of-state dollars flooding into Wyoming’s elections are not going to be answered soon by that office.  

For someone who is ostensibly concerned about election integrity, he is noticeably silent on inquiring why out of state dollars are flooding into our elections.

I’m sure we’ll hear arguments that it is their constitutional right to participate financially and anonymously in our elections. And, these organizations have the right to participate in the elections.

But someone and some level should be asking why this money is flooding into Wyoming to sway our electorate. 

Historically, these tactics work. And they are not going to stop until we make them stop.

We need to do a next-level inquiry on what people stand to gain by influencing our vote.   The answer is not some political platitude.  

And, until we know why out-of-state actors are spending their money to sway our vote, we should vote for every candidate that is NOT endorsed by these out-of-state actors. Send a message their excrement is not welcome in Wyoming.

Tom Lubnau served in the Wyoming Legislature from 2005 - 2015 and is a former Speaker of the House.

He can be reached at:

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Tom Lubnau