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Al Simpson

New Heart Mountain Institute An Homage To ‘Ideals Of Democracy’

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
wendy@cowboystatedaily.com

In the mid-1940s, two boys from very different backgrounds began what would become a lifelong friendship.

To honor the lasting bond between former U.S. Sen. Alan K. Simpson of Cody and the late Norman Mineta, former U.S. Transportation Secretary, supporters of the Heart Mountain Relocation Center between Powell and Cody plan to build an institute dedicated to peace on the grounds of a former internment camp that once divided two cultures.

Aura Sunada Newlin is the interim executive director of the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, which tells the story of more than 14,000 Japanese Americans unjustly incarcerated in Wyoming from 1942-45. Newlin said the proposed Mineta-Simpson Institute is the centerpiece of a twofold expansion of the existing facility located on the site of the former internment camp.

“We’re building a new wing that will enable us to host groups at a greater capacity than we currently are able to,” Newlin told Cowboy State Daily. “The addition is also giving us expanded collections capacity and research capacity, more exhibit space, more staff space.”

But the other aspect of the expansion is broadening the organization’s mission of promoting understanding between opposing viewpoints, Newlin said.

“We already have this tremendous museum that educates about the history of Japanese American incarceration,” Newlin said. “But we see the Japanese American incarceration history and its legacy as something that is not just about Japanese American history, but is about American history – and there are also lessons that need to be learned in terms of democracy and problem solving in times of great division and in times of a lot of fear.”

Norm and Al

The friendship between the Simpson and Mineta began when Simpson’s Boy Scout Troop from Cody met with the Heart Mountain Boy Scout Troop for combined activities.

“We tied knots and did all those things you do when you’re a Scout and you make those little lanyards for your handkerchiefs and all that stuff,” Simpson told Cowboy State Daily in May, shortly after Mineta’s death. “And that’s when I met him, and we were paired together in some events.”

Simpson said although they kept in touch sporadically through the years, when both were elected to Congress in the mid-1970s – Mineta as a representative from California and Simpson a senator from Wyoming – they reconnected.   

“I told him, ‘It’ll be great for the country and for us,’” Simpson said. 

And despite the political divide between them, the pair’s ideals never got in the way of their friendship.

“We never, ever had an argument about politics,” Simpson said. “A bill would come over from the House, and they’d say, ‘Mineta’s on this, it’s about transportation.’ And so I’d call him, I’d say, ‘Norm, that doesn’t have anything, it doesn’t help rural areas, you know, you’re doing something for San Jose (California, which Mineta represented),’ and he’d say, ‘I understand.’ We never got into any scraps at all.”

On June 11, Simpson gave the eulogy for his lifelong friend at a church in Washington, D.C.

Bridging An Ideological Divide

Newlin, herself a descendent of incarcerees at Heart Mountain, said that the friendship between Simpson and Mineta carries a lesson that is especially relevant today.

“We are using the models of Al Simpson and Norm Mineta as a way of showing us a way forward, Al Simpson being a conservative Republican and Norm Mineta being a liberal Democrat,” said Newlin. “Yet they were lifetime friends who worked together across the aisle on things that they could agree upon – core ideals of democracy and civil dialogue and civic engagement.” 

Newlin said staff at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center have already begun to use the story of Japanese American incarceration and what she called “the power of place” to bring together people who might not otherwise agree with each other.  

“We envision bringing groups of political leaders here, or groups of educators, groups of scholars or legal professionals,” said Newlin. “Have them come to our site, learn about our history here, experience the power of place – but use this as a place where people could come together and really try and sit down and work on how we can get along with each other without tearing each other apart.”

Show Your Love

Groundbreaking for the Mineta-Simpson Institute was part of the Foundation’s July 30 Pilgrimage. Al, Ann and members of the Simpson family joined Deni Mineta, Norm’s widow, and members of the extended Mineta family at the event.

In honor of Simpson’s recent 91st birthday, as well as his wife Ann’s upcoming birthday on October 10, a fund drive is underway to support the construction of the Institute.

The goal is to raise $8.25 million, said to Deni Hirsh, membership and development manager for the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center.

“Probably over $6 million of that will be specifically for construction,” Hirsh told Cowboy State Daily. “And then the rest will be for staffing the new institute as well as operations for the new institute, creating a reserve fund for the institute’s programming, and also development of our programming goals for the institute.” 

Hirsh said more than $7 million has been raised so far, and the remainder is being backed by a $500,000 challenge grant from the Hughes Charitable Foundation. Hirsh said the challenge grant is in honor of Al’s birthday, as well as his receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in July.

“They have offered us a matching challenge of $500,000 so that we can encourage our donors, and also people across the state and nationally who know Al and Ann Simpson, to give to one of their dearest and nearest charities – which would be Mineta-Simpson Institute,” she said.

More information about the Show Your Love campaign can be found here.

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Wyoming’s Al Simpson Receives ‘Presidential Medal Of Freedom’ From Biden

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

Former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson received his Presidential Medal of Freedom award from President Joe Biden on Thursday afternoon in commemoration of his work in Congress.

Biden called Simpson “the real deal” and complimented his ability to work in a bipartisan manner in Congress and do what was best, despite outside pressures and political polarization stating that his “conscience was his guide.”

“He never allowed his party or state or anything get in the way of the way he felt was right,” Biden said. “He believed in forging real relationships even with people on the other side of the aisle and proving we can do anything when we work together as the United States of America. 

It matters, it matters, it matters,” Biden continued. “We need more of your spirit back in the United States Senate on both sides of the aisle.”

Simpson and Biden served together for 18 years in the Senate, spending seven years together on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Biden said Simpson was one of the “finest men he’s ever worked with.”

“He never takes himself too seriously, nor takes me seriously,” Biden said.



They both oversaw the 1991 confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Simpson voted for the confirmation of Thomas, while Biden voted against it.

“At his core, he’s always believed in the common good and what’s best for the nation,” Biden said. “We didn’t agree on everything, although we agreed on a whole heck of a lot.”

Simpson was commended for his work, which included supporting abortion and civil rights and fighting for campaign finance reform.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, who attended the ceremony, also praised Simpson for his work.

“Senator Al Simpson is a principled leader and his service to Wyoming and our nation is unmatched,” Cheney said in a Thursday tweet. “He is most deserving of this honor and I am honored to call him friend.”

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, in a news release Thursday, complemented Simpson for receiving the award.

“Throughout his life, Al has boldly fought to uphold the values and ideals of our nation,” Barrasso said. “Whether he was serving in the United States Army, the Wyoming House of Representatives or in the United States Senate, his commitment and contributions were evident. It’s fitting that Al receives the highest honor an American civilian can get for his service to our country.”

Simpson was one of the last of 17 medal recipients brought on stage during the opening ceremonies and was placed closest to Biden’s lectern. He wore a gold Cowboy Joe lapel pin on his dark blue suit.

When Biden placed the medal around his neck, Simpson, who stands about 7 inches taller than Biden, had to crouch down so the president could reach him. Simpson made an inaudible joke, drawing some laughter from the audience, 

Simpson, a Cody native and resident, served as a U.S. senator for 18 years, a timespan that included leadership positions as Senate majority and minority whip. He also was the co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform in 2010. 

“It’s a very powerful and moving thing for me,” he said in a June Cowboy State Daily interview. “It’s something that’s cherished.”

Simpson was one of 17 Americans to receive the award in the ceremony that was held at the White House in Washington, D.C. 

Also receiving the award were former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, actor Denzel Washington and soccer star Megan Rapinoe. The late U.S. Sen. John McCain and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs received awards posthumously. 

Thursday’s recipients were the first people to be graced with the award since Biden took office. Obama issued the award to 132 people while former President Donald Trump only gave it to 24.

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Al Simpson: Absurd, Inane, Galling — An Open Letter On Election Integrity

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By Alan Simpson, WyoFile Letter to the Editor

I am totally opposed to Park County counting ballots by hand in the next election or any other

What is the need to “restore our citizens’ faith in elections in Park County”? We’ve never had any problem with election integrity here in my 90-year lifetime. The Sons of Freedom demanding this foolishness — who are they? What are their names? What do they stand for? They may be a cult within a cult! It seems to me that anyone demanding officials declare a for-or-against stance is not “pure and unbiased”.

To say that this is a “bipartisan effort” is absurd. There are 29,000 human beings in Park County, yet, apparently only 50 showed up at the last Park County Commissioner’s meeting to address the issue — one of them a Democrat.

The first batch of “volunteers,” after seeing the inane nature of the hand counting process, will never volunteer again! And who is training the groups?

The State of Wyoming will be waiting for hours or days for Park County to total up its votes.

The Park County Republicans have their share of notoriety for communications to legislators and obsession with censuring anyone who dares disagree with them. Where do they get the gall to impugn the integrity and honesty of our county officers and commissioners — all of whom are Republicans?!

Who do they trust? Apparently no one. Neither their government, nor elected officials (except their chosen ones!) nor their fellow citizens. They don’t even trust their fellow men and women in the Park County Republican Central Committee.

Watch how they treat folks who get up on their hind legs and challenge the Oath Keeper state chairman, the executive committees and the various county organizations that swallow state-party dicta, then request non-disclosure agreements from everyone present.

Who is going to protect the security and validity of the person’s ballot for the time it takes hand counters determine if it “is accurate to the intention of the voter”?

The missive from the party also says — “a hand count should verify the machine count.” I’ll tell you who the people who are legally and professionally qualified to run and evaluate fair elections will be looking for if it doesn’t — the meddling middlemen volunteers and election judges who handled our secret ballots, not the voters or the county clerk. That will be a real scrap!

These self-appointed party-purity enforcers say they are hunting RINOs — Republicans in Name Only. I call those doing the hunting “Republicans Ignorantly Needling Others.”

If anybody can tell me about anything that ever happened in Park County that had to do with election fraud or deception, please weigh in on it. I’ve been around a long time. I do recall one election where “they” didn’t like the winner. The challenger who lost by over 400 votes was pressed to ask for a recount. The recount changed about seven votes and cost taxpayers about $5,000.

What is happening with our Republicans nationwide? Why don’t the members of my party trust anybody anymore?

There are 61 state, county and national lawsuits regarding the presidential election that Donald J. Trump lost by 8 million votes. Yet, he’s still on his soapbox red-faced and ranting. With that zany unhinging, we’ll be waiting for Sens. Ted Cruz or Josh Hawley or Gov. Rick DeSantis to take him out in the next Republican presidential election convention.

And so it goes in America today! It’s your right to be guarded, suspicious, fearful, rigid and afraid. Go for it. But, please leave the rest of us alone who believe in truth and integrity, and don’t try to shove down our throats every cockamamie conspiracy that ever came down the pike.

Sincerely,

Alan K. Simpson

Precinct Committeeman, District 25-1

Sen. Al Simpson served three terms in the United States Senate

This originally appeared on WyoFile and republished with permission. WyoFile is an independent nonprofit news organization focused on Wyoming people, places and policy.

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Big Horn Basin Sons of the American Revolution Honor U.S. Sen. Al Simpson

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Powell Tribune

The Big Horn Basin Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution recently presented their Distinguished Service Award to former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson of Cody. The award is given annually to a “person who has shown patriotic leadership in their community”.

“The patriotic leadership Mr. Simpson has shown is well known and has spanned many decades. He has worked tirelessly to help our community, our state and our nation,” the chapter said in a statement.

“Of course, no description of Mr. Simpson would be complete without also acknowledging his wit, wisdom and ability to create solutions. He is truly a great American leader.”

In accepting the award, Simpson said that, “I’ve been fortunate to receive many awards in my lifetime, but the most touching ones are the ones that I receive locally.”

“It is especially important to me that this comes from an organization that is so patriotically connected with the American Revolution,” he said. “This award means a great deal to me and I will cherish it always”.

The Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) is a fraternal society that perpetuates the ideals of the war for independence. Each member has traced his family tree back to a point of having an ancestor who supported the cause of American Independence during 1774-1783.

The society aims to be patriotic, historical, and educational; to unite and promote fellowship among the descendants of those who sacrificed to achieve the independence of the American people, to inspire them and the community-at-large with a more profound reverence for the principles of the government founded by our forefathers; to foster true patriotism; to maintain and extend the institutions of American freedom.

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Al Simpson: ‘Right Wing Crazies’ Jeopardize Republican Chances of Winning Majority in House of Representatives

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

With the smallest team of congressional delegates in the United States, it’s easy for Wyoming to get lost in the political workings in Washington, D.C.

Until U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney started speaking her mind.

Much attention is being paid this week to the decision facing Republican party leadership in the nation’s Capitol — whether or not to oust Cheney from her current position as the Republican Conference Chair, the No. 3 leadership position among Republicans in the House.

Coincidentally, the last time such a decision garnered this much attention, a Wyoming lawmaker also played a central role.

In 1994, the U.S. Senate whip was Wyoming’s own U.S. Sen. Al Simpson — and in December of that year, Republican leadership decided Simpson wasn’t conservative enough. 

On a 27-26 vote, Simpson was ousted as whip in favor of Mississippi Senator Trent Lott.

Cowboy State Daily spoke with the former senator Monday about the controversy now capturing the attention of the nation. Simpson said 27 years ago, politics was a different game.

“They were counting the secret vote,” he recalled. “And it was 26-27. They said, ‘We have a new assistant Republican leader.’ 

And I got right up, I stood up, I remember that clearly,” Simpson continued. “And I said, ‘I want to tell you, Trent, that I will help you in any way. And before this drags out any further before the media, the print media, television, I want to take you by the hand, and I want to go out where they’re waiting outside to learn the results of this, and pledge my full support to you.’”

Simpson, who had been the Republican leader in the Senate for the previous 10 years, said he knew that he wouldn’t be running again in 1996, that he was content with what he had accomplished as a legislator, and that he held no bitterness against Lott for campaigning for the leadership position.

But that type of polite camaraderie seems to be a thing of the past in the Washington of today, according to Simpson.

“It’s called hatred,” Simpson said of the political temperature these days. “These are people who hate RINOs (Republicans in Name Only), they hate Trump. It’ll destroy the Republican party.

“To think you could go in and kick Liz Cheney off — who voted for Trumpy-babe about 78% of the time? What are you thinking about? If you’re thinking about unity, then this is not just about hatred, it’s about revenge,” he continued. “Donald Trump is a hateful man, and he is seeking revenge. He is seeking revenge against anybody that crossed him. And I tell you, I voted for him once, and that will be the last time.”

Simpson noted that the next election won’t turn out well for Republicans if they can’t find unity.

“There won’t be any way to save it (the Republican Party) without ballots,” he said. “And if you have insurgents like we had on Jan. 6 — there are people who really fear this government. They think that they’re going to come cruisin’ through the pass at Laramie and come on and take your guns.”

Simpson said it is those extremists who will, in his words, “destroy the Republican Party.”

“Especially in the next race, where Republicans have a good shot at getting back into the House of Representatives and the Senate, you’re going to find that the right wing crazies are going to put up people in the primary that no one will accept in the general election,” he said. “They’re just gonna say, ‘Well, you know, they gave me a Republican, but the guy was talking about, you know, theories I’d never heard of, a loon. So I guess I’ll vote for the Democrats.’”

Simpson said he is distressed at the hatred being spewed by many in the party that he represented for so many years. He spoke of a meeting that he recently attended with local Republican Party leaders – which was actually being held in a church.

“I said, ‘I think most of you are Christians,’” he recalled. “Heads go up and down. ‘Well, then why don’t we talk about what Christ was about? He was about tolerance. Love, kindness, taking care of the fringes of society, the prostitutes and lepers. So, whatever happened to Jesus Christ, the one you talk about as a true Christian, while you’re filled with hate, and revenge?”

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Al Simpson: Liz Cheney Is “Gutsy” And Will Be Re-Elected

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson admires Liz Cheney.

Appearing on a radio talk show in Cody on Monday, Simpson said the Wyoming congresswoman’s vote to impeach President Trump “took guts” and said he didn’t think her actions will impede her chances of being re-elected.

“She will prevail,” Simpson told talk show host Darian Dudrick. “Because I think the American people and Wyoming people admire guts and courage.”

Simpson said Cheney has plenty of supporters and they will be visible during the election season. 

“She’ll go into town and her people will show up instead of just the ragged bunch of haters,” Simpson said. “And they’ll say ‘We like this woman.’”

Simpson said he saw those “haters” at the Park County Republican meeting where Cheney was censured and added the display of “pure hatred” marked a difference between now and when he was an elected official.

“This is the thing that I never saw in politics of my time. You might have disliked (Ted) Kennedy but you didn’t really hate him. What I saw in that room that night was pure hatred toward Liz Cheney,” he said. 

“And I’m not talking about disgust or disappointment. I’m talking about pure, pure hate. The kind of hate the devil might create,” Simpson said.

At the heart of her detractors’ hatred, he said, is her she challenge of former President Trump or, as Simpson called him, “their idol” and “their Messiah.”

Despite Trump’s targeting of Cheney, such as during his first speech after losing the election where he made it clear that Cheney was top of his hit list, Simpson — using his ever colorful language — scoffed at the suggestion that Cheney could be defeated in 2022.

“If people think she’s going to get cremated in the next election, they’ve got a bum steer,” he said. “Liz Cheney will be highly regarded and highly respected in this state when she runs for re-election, I can promise you that.”

What about legislation before the Wyoming State Legislature and endorsed by Donald Trump, Jr. which would change the state’s election laws to a runoff system if no candidate had more than 50% of the vote? Opponents of Cheney, including the former president’s son, say they believe this system would be more generous to a challenger. 

Simpson wasn’t optimistic about its passage.

“I don’t know where that bill is going,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going anywhere and if they did, the governor would probably veto it.”

As it is currently amended, a runoff system wouldn’t begin until after the 2022 election as county clerks have said there’s not enough time to implement changes.

This can be amended, of course, and some speculate that’s why the bill was laid back for a day, so supporters could make changes to make the legislation more amenable to those who have to carry out the elections.

While Simpson didn’t criticize the runoff legislation, he did suggest that some legislators should focus on more meaningful legislation.

“They’re obsessed with guns, QAnon, abortion, taxes, or gays and lesbians,” he said. “Rome is burning. What are they going to do about the tax structure?”

He said because many legislators took a vow to vote against any tax increase, they’re limited as to what they can do.

“Hang on tight, because they’re going to do some serious things to health care, senior care and to teachers and to education,” he said. 

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Update: Al Simpson ‘Doing Well,’ Expected To Return Home Saturday

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson is “doing really well” following treatment for a minor stroke and is expected to return to his Cody home on Saturday, according to his son Colin Simpson.

“He wants to get out of there now,” Colin Simpson said. “Saturday looks like the day.”

The former senator suffered a minor stroke Monday and underwent surgery at Swedish Medical Center in Denver on Tuesday.

Colin Simpson said his father will need some speech therapy and will have in-home care for a brief period while he recovers.

Simpson served as Wyoming’s U.S. Senator for three terms beginning with his election in 1978. Since retiring from the Senate in 1998, the 89-year-old Simpson has been active with a number of organizations, including the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform in 2010.

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Al Simpson ‘Doing Well’ After Minor Stroke

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson was doing well Wednesday in a Denver hospital where he underwent surgery following a minor stroke, according to his son.

Colin Simpson said his 89-year-old father suffered the stroke Monday and underwent surgery Tuesday at Swedish Medical Center in Denver to remove a clot from his carotid artery.

“So they removed the clot and I talked to him this morning and he’s doing pretty well,” said Colin Simpson, a Cody attorney and former member of Wyoming’s House of Representatives. “They’re still doing additional imaging and tests to figure out what the source of the stroke was and whether there are any other risks.”

Simpson was joined at the hospital by his wife Ann, daughter Susan and brother Pete, a former University of Wyoming official.

Colin Simpson said when he spoke with his father, the former senator asked about the World Series and about getting a ballot for the upcoming general election.

“One thing he wanted yesterday was to ‘Get my ballot,’” Colin said. “So he’s doing pretty well.”

Colin Simpson said his family has heard from many people extending good wishes to his father.

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“We all want to express our appreciation to all the people who have called, emailed and texted,” he said. “We want to thank everyone for their prayers and support.”

Simpson, the son of a former Wyoming governor, served in Wyoming’s Legislature before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978. He served three terms, rising to the position of Republican whip in the body.

Although a longtime defender of Republican causes, Simpson was known for his ability to work with Democratic leaders in the Senate to hammer out compromises on contentious issues. 

His support of abortion rights and the rights of gays and lesbians has sometimes put him at odds with more conservative members of the Republican Party. 

While in Congress, Simpson’s plainspoken manner and homespun wit made him a favorite of reporters, with whom he had a running battle of words. A book published after his time in the Senate, “Right in the Old Gazoo: A Lifetime of Scrapping with the Press,” detailed some of his skirmishes with the Wyoming and national media.

Since leaving Congress, Simpson has been involved in a number of issues, including the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, created in 2010 to offer recommendations on how to rein in federal spending.

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