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Fremont County Sen. Cale Case Urges Colleagues Not To Have Special Session

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Longtime Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, sent out a document over the weekend to his fellow legislators explaining why he believes the Legislature’s upcoming special session is a bad idea.

Case sent his colleagues a “white paper,” an informational document detailing the philosophy and guidance of a complex issue. The document was initially written by Equality State Policy Center executive director Chris Merrill in December, but he and Case revised it to apply to the session.

In the paper, Case explains why he believes it is a bad idea for the House and Senate to consider the same bills at the same time in a “mirror” arrangement. Usually, a bill is reviewed by one chamber and, if approved, sent to the other for review.

“We have two houses for a reason,” Case wrote. “Mirror bills and expedited scheduling defeats bicameralism at least in part because the reviews are not independent as they are both at the same time or in the same ‘passion.'”

The Legislature is to begin a three-day special session on Tuesday to formulate the state’s response to President Joe Biden’s mandate that federal workers, health care employees and employees at companies employing more than 100 people receive the coronavirus vaccine or be tested regularly for the illness.

The Biden administration has not yet issued the rules that will be required to put the mandate into effect.

In his email to his fellow legislators on Saturday, Cale noted that he has served as the Senate chairman of the Select Committee on Legislative Process for a number of years and in that role, he and the committee have worked hard to improve transparency and public access to the legislative process.

“The rules proposed for the Special Session are a step backward,” Case wrote in the email. “I encourage you to vote no on the proposed rules and conduct all our work with maximum transparency and opportunity for public education and participation.”

Should a majority of the legislators vote “no” on the proposed rules, the special session will be adjourned on Tuesday or lawmakers will have to abide by the rules for a regular legislative session.

Thirty-five Wyoming representatives and 17 senators voted in favor of holding a special session, while 12 representatives and seven senators voted against holding one. Case was one of the senators who voted against the session.

In the document, Case and Merill detail how the traditional legislative process upholds the spirit and intent of the Wyoming Constitution and fulfills the vision of the Founding Fathers.

“The ‘mirror bill’ process—even in the best of circumstances and with the best of intentions—does not,” Case and Merill wrote. “It is a deeply flawed, inferior approach to lawmaking that undermines the wisdom and intent of a bicameral legislature. It compresses the timeline for deliberations, eliminates the one-chamber-at-a-time principle, eliminates the key ‘crossover’ moment (which allows for a fresh infusion of public input and new information), and severely limits—even eliminates at key points—public input and involvement.”

Case told Cowboy State Daily last week that he felt the special session was a bad idea.

“I don’t agree with the federal mandates on employers and I want to be clear about that,” Case said. “But I don’t see a legislative path to fix that.”

An op-ed published Monday and penned by various non-partisan officials from across the state also objected to the session.

“This is not about whether or not you support mandates,” the opinion piece said. “Regardless of your position on vaccinations or masks, fast-tracking legislation undermines the deliberative process that is the hallmark of good lawmaking.”

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Legislator Names Anti-Mask Bill In Honor Of Laramie Teen Arrested For Not Wearing Mask

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A bill named after and and inspired by the Laramie teen arrested at her high school for refusing to wear a mask has been filed for consideration by Wyoming’s Legislature.

The Grace Smith Medical Freedom Act would require county and state health officers to grant waivers from coronavirus immunization or face mask use requirements to any K-12 student who requests one. This bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Ocean Andrew, R-Laramie, and Sen. Bo Biteman, R-Sheridan.

Andrew told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that he named the bill after Grace because he was inspired by the courage shown by her and her father in ignoring Laramie High School’s mask mandate.

“They took a stand for not only their rights but all people’s rights,” Andrew told Cowboy State Daily. “I felt it was important that I sponsor this bill because her arrest happened within the boundaries of the district I represent.”

He added that the state’s statutes need to be updated to reflect the health freedom rights guaranteed by the state’s Constitution.

“The Wyoming Constitution says that the State of Wyoming shall act to preserve these rights from undue governmental infringement,” Andrew said. “I believe that it’s our duty as a legislature to update our statutes to reflect the rights guaranteed by the constitution we pledge to uphold.”

The bill will likely come up for discussion during the Wyoming Legislature’s special session next week.

Biteman did not immediately respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment.

Grace was arrested earlier this month for trespassing after she refused to wear a face mask at Laramie High School as required by school district policy. She was cited for trespassing for refusing to leave the school after being told she could not stay unless she wore a mask.

Grace went into custody willingly and was polite with officers when arrested, videos taken and shared by her father show. The teen was also fined $1,000 for trespassing.

Albany County School District No. 1, which includes Laramie High, adopted a requirement for the use of facemasks in September. The requirement was extended until mid-November by school board members earlier this month.

Grace has withdrawn from the high school due to the controversy, but has not ruled out enrolling again for her senior year.

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Laramie County GOP Calls On Wyoming GOP To Censure Park County Republican For Obscene Email

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Laramie County Republican Party has called on the state GOP to officially censure a Park County Republican because of an obscene email he sent to a senator from Cheyenne last month.

The Laramie County party’s central committee, during a meeting Tuesday, voted to send a resolution to the state party calling for the state party to immediately censure Park County Republican Precinct Committeeman Troy Bray for an email he sent to Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne.

In the email he sent last month, Bray criticized the senator for how she handled a bill that would have banned the state from requiring its employees to get the coronavirus vaccine.

“If I were as despicable a person as you, I would kill myself to rid the world of myself,” said the email, a copy of which was obtained by the Casper Star-Tribune. “You sicken me. Thank you for ensuring that the people of Wyoming are subjected to tyranny once again. F— YOU C—.” 

Bray signed the email with his titles as a precinct committeeman and as secretary of Park County Republican Men’s Club, the latter of which he resigned from.

In her response to Bray’s initial email, Nethercott did not mention either Bray’s suggestion that she commit suicide or the obscenity the message contained. Instead, she thanked the precinct committeeman for reaching out to her to share his opinions.

The resolution from the Laramie County GOP called Bray’s conduct “foul” and said that he both dehumanized and “vilely degrad[ed] Nethercott with the words he used.

“It is incumbent upon us as members of the WYGOP to condemn such abhorrent behavior done by a fellow member of the WYGOP under signature of his official title in the Park County Republican Party,” the resolution said.

Leaders of the Park County Republican Party decided not to take action against Bray for his actions.

State Rep. Landon Brown, R-Cheyenne, who serves with Nethercott, applauded the county party for its defense of the senator.

“I’m proud of the LCGOP for standing up for Senator Nethercott,” Brown told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday. “The comments from Mr. Bray show the worst side of politics. Politicians face scrutiny every day and that is expected. Inciting hate and calling for such egregious behavior is reprehensible at best and absolutely grotesque at worst. LCGOP continues to lead the way with civil discourse and appropriate responses.”

After the contents of Bray’s message were published by the Casper Star-Tribune, the Wyoming House Speaker Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, and Senate President Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, called on Bray to resign his position within the Park County Republican Party.

“Attacking a state legislator through use of violent, lewd and derogatory language cannot and will not go unanswered in Wyoming,” Barlow and Dockstader wrote on Sept. 22, calling on the county and state parties to join them in seeking Bray’s resignation.

Bray refused to do so.

“I have resigned as Secretary of the Park County Republican Men’s Club after being asked to by the executive committee, but I will not resign as precinct committeeman,” he said on Facebook. “I have also received a bit of pressure from the leftists/ RINO class of scum, including a gentleman calling my employer demanding that I be fired.”

In the same social media post, he again apologized to Nethercott for the language he used, calling it “inappropriate”.

“The cowardice and pettiness being shown by you and your supporters proves every other word of my e-mail. I will not be bullied, nor will I allow bullies to win. Have a wonderful day,” Bray said.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Wyoming GOP has not yet censured Bray.

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State Senator Thinks Special Session On Vaccine Mandate Is Bad Idea

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Longtime state Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, thinks that next week’s legislative special session regarding vaccine mandates is a bad idea, he told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday.

“I don’t agree with the federal mandates on employers and I want to be clear about that,” Case said. “But I don’t see a legislative path to fix that.”

The Legislature is to begin a three-day special session on Tuesday to formulate the state’s response to President Joe Biden’s mandate that government workers, health care employees and employees at companies employing more than 100 people receive the corronavirus vaccine or be tested regularly for the illness.

Before any work can begin, the rules spelling out how the session will proceed will have to be approved by two-thirds of the legislators.

Thirty-five Wyoming representatives and 17 senators voted in favor of holding a special session, while 12 representatives and seven senators voted against holding one. Case was one of the senators who voted against the session.

The Biden administration has not yet issued the rules that will be required to put the mandate into effect and Case said that is the biggest argument against holding a special session.

“I think we run the risk of putting our Wyoming employers in a squeeze between state and federal policy,” he said.

Case added that the Wyoming Legislature cannot hold a special session every time “a bunch of people get mad at something that happens.” He said many Wyoming voters who have pushed for the special session do not fully understand how the legislative process works.

“I’ve actually had people tell me that we can nullify a federal law, because all we have to do is pass a law that nullifies it,” Case said. “I assure you, we can’t do that.”

Gov. Mark Gordon and Attorney General Bridget Hill are preparing to file a legal challenge on Wyoming’s behalf once the rules are completed, which Case totally supported.

“I think we are in the realm of overreach by the federal government and I think in the end, it is the legal efforts that we join with other states that will be successful, not these special sessions,” he said.

Case’s stance is in opposition to that taken by many of his colleagues.

Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, was one of the senators who voted to hold the session and he announced his position by posting a photo of his ballot to social media, along with a post-it note containing a message to legislative leadership.

“We now need a special session because the Republican establishment killed my bill on the same subject,” Bouchard wrote on the ballot. “Of course I will vote yes on the special session. Don’t Fauci our Wyoming!”

Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, also voted for the session.

“The dates of October 26-28 have also been scheduled for the special session, which would allow us to pass a bill banning mandates before the Banner Health deadline goes into effect,” Gray wrote on social media. “This is great news for our state! We must stop these radical vaccine mandates.”

Banner Health, one of the largest U.S. health system employers, is requiring its employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus by Nov. 1 to keep their jobs. The organization announced this mandate in July.

Banner Health operates multiple health care facilities in Wyoming, including the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper and clinics in Torrington, Wheatland, Guernsey, Douglas, Worland and more.

No other Wyoming-owned hospitals or health care systems in the state have implemented a vaccine mandate, although some, such as Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, have created incentive programs for employees who do get vaccinated.

Banner officials said the company is implementing the requirement for several reasons, including the rise of the Delta variant of coronavirus, the need to protect its patients and workforce and to prepare for flu season.

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Wyoming Special Session Slated For Next Week

in News/Coronavirus/politics
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Legislature will convene for a special session next week to address coronavirus vaccination mandates expected to be handed down by the federal government, the Legislative Service Office announced Tuesday.

The Legislature’s leaders, Senate President Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, and House Speaker Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, received a sufficient number of votes affirming the decision to have a special session, the LSO said.

The three-day session will begin at 10 a.m. on Oct. 26.

Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, the Senate’s majority floor leader, explained that despite the fact that about 20 bills could be introduced during the special session, the legislators’ focus would be on vaccine mandates.

“We’re going to keep the topic very narrow, just to mandates,” he told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “We’ve got three bills being worked on right now, and in the broadest terms, one deals with federal overreach, one is about employer mandates and then there’s one about employee rights.”

In September, President Joe Biden announced that federal workers, health care workers and employees at companies that employ more than 100 people will have to be vaccinated against coronavirus or be tested every week for the illness.

However, the Biden administration has not yet released the rules to put the mandate in place. As a result, writing bills in Wyoming for federal policies that are not yet in place could be tricky.

“The LSO has done a phenomenal job with these bills,” Driskill said. “We want to be careful to avoid making a law where Wyoming citizens and employers have to decide between violating a state law or a federal one. It’s really hard to deal with rules that aren’t out there yet.”

Thirty-five Wyoming representatives and 17 senators voted to hold a special session, while 12 representatives and seven senators voted against holding one.

According to the LSO, the Legislature plans to hold committee meetings on Oct. 26. After that, identical versions of any bills to be considered will be worked in each chamber, with the required three reviews of the bills to take place Oct. 27. Then joint conference committee meetings will be held Oct. 28 to resolve any differences between the House and Senate versions of the bills.

Barlow and Dockstader did not immediately return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Tuesday.

The rules formalizing the schedule will have to be approved by two-thirds of the legislators when they open the session on Oct. 26.

Nine members of Wyoming’s Democratic Caucus told legislative leadership that they would be voting against the session. The legislators included Reps. Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, Mike Yin, D-Jackson, Karlee Provenza, D-Laramie, and Andi Clifford, D-Riverton, and Sens. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, and Mike Gierau, D-Jackson.

“After considering the $25,000 per day cost of a special session, the lack of released federal rules in regards to how OSHA may enforce vaccine mandates, and the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution that indicates that federal laws override state directives, we believe a special session would be an undue burden to the taxpayer, a waste of time and resources for legislators and our staff, and would further cause an undue burden to Wyoming businesses who would be forced to choose  between following state OR federal law, requiring them to be in violation of one or the other,” the caucus wrote. 

Rep. Landon Brown, R-Cheyenne, was one of the Republican members of the legislature who also voted against the special session.

“My stance is clear: Our President’s mandate has no place in Wyoming,” Brown said on social media last week. “Unfortunately, we have no clue what his mandate looks like under rule making process and we would be fighting against a rule that doesn’t exist yet. While I believe President Biden’s proposed rule is too far for government to reach, I also believe it is too far for government to enter into the hiring practices of private businesses.”

“If a private business wishes to impose hiring protocols that an employee is uncomfortable with, they have the choice to not enter into that employment,” he continued. “Likewise, the business should be ready to suffer the consequences of the choices they choose to impose or not impose on their employees and the response from the public. Let the business succeed or fail based on their merit, not on government interference.”

Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, was one of the senators who voted to hold the session, posting a photo of his ballot to social media, along with a post-it note containing a message to legislative leadership.

“We now need a special session because the Republican establishment killed my bill on the same subject,” Bouchard wrote on the ballot. “Of course I will vote yes on the special session. Don’t Fauci our Wyoming!”

Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, also voted for the session.

“The dates of October 26-28 have also been scheduled for the special session, which would allow us to pass a bill banning mandates before the Banner Health deadline goes into effect,” Gray wrote on social media. “This is great news for our state! We must stop these radical vaccine mandates.”

Gov. Mark Gordon and Attorney General Bridget Hill are preparing Wyoming’s legal challenge to the federal vaccine mandate when they are finalized. 

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Bouchard Not Dropping Out Despite Campaign Donation Slowdown

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Congressional candidate state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, has no intention of dropping out of the race, despite a significant slowdown of donations to his campaign fund.

Bouchard campaign spokeswoman April Poley told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that the senator was not currently focused on fundraising, but on other, more pressing issues.

“He is focused on several state issues right now, primarily the sexual harassment issue in the Wyoming National Guard, COVID mandates and red flag gun laws,” Poley said.

A “red flag” gun law is one that allows police or family members to petition a court for an order to temporarily confiscate a person’s firearms.

Bouchard came in fourth for campaign fundraising for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat in the third quarter of the year with $65,560, putting his total campaign donations for the year at $526,600.

Federal Election Commission reports show U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney received $1.7 million between July 1 and Sept. 30, followed by Harriet Hageman, who raised $301,921 even though she did not join the race until early September, with less than one month to go in the fundraising reporting cycle.

State Rep. Chuck Gray, who stepped out of the race when Hageman announced her candidacy and won the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, collected $113,195 during the quarter.

Poley said that Hageman should have raised even more money in September because of the national attention she received with her endorsement by Trump.

Bouchard raised $334,451 in the first quarter of 2021 and $213,327 in the second.

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Cheney Tops Fundraising Efforts In Third Quarter, Totaling $5.1M

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney continues to lead all the Republican candidates for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat for fundraising, according to federal figures, raising more than $1.7 million in the third quarter of the year.

The reports for the period running from July 1 through Sept. 30 showed Cheney, who has not yet announced whether she will seek reelection, received $1.3 million from individuals and $67,900 from political action committees. She also received about $342,400 from other “other authorized committees,” which can include the campaign committees of other politicians.

The donations in the third quarter brought Cheney’s fundraising total to $5.1 million since the beginning of the year.

For fundraising during the third quarter of the year, Cheney was followed by Harriet Hageman, who raised $301,921 in the third quarter even though she did not announce her candidacy until Sept. 9, with less than one month remaining in the reporting period.

All of Hageman’s donations came from individuals.

State Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, raised $65,560 during the quarter, bringing his total donations for the year to $613,428. All of Bouchard’s donations so far this year have come from individuals.

State Rep. Charles Gray, R-Casper, who ended his campaign for Congress when Hageman announced her candidacy, raised $113,195 during the quarter, all from individuals. Gray’s campaign ended with a total of $209,209 in donations and $298,318 in loans.

Denton Knapp, a retired U.S. Army colonel from Gillette, raised $10,925 in the third quarter, all from individuals, bringing his total donations to $19,600, while Riverton’s Marissa Joy Selvig raised $3,909 to bring her total donations to $7,074.

Virginia residents continued to be the biggest contributors to Cheney’s campaign, donating $307,455, followed by California residents at $217,677. 

Wyoming residents donated $100,930 to Cheney so far this year, the FEC reports said, placing Wyoming behind seven other states as donation sources for Cheney. Hageman’s FEC filings showed that more than half of her donations, about $164,000, came from Wyoming individuals.

Wyoming residents were also the top donors to Bouchard’s campaign, contributing $46,490 so far this year, the reports showed.

Of Knapp’s $10,925, $5,400 came from donors in California, while Wyoming residents donated $3,600 to his campaign.

Most of Selvig’s donations, $1,475, have come from Wyoming residents, with $1,000 coming from Colorado residents.

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Legislators Divided Over Whether Wyoming Should Have Special Session On Vaccine Mandate

in News/Coronavirus/politics
Wyoming State Capitol
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s legislators are divided over whether or not the state should hold a special session regarding President Joe Biden’s proposed vaccine mandates.

In September, Biden announced that federal workers, health care workers and employees at companies that employ more than 100 people will have to be vaccinated against coronavirus or be tested every week for the illness.

Wyoming’s legislators have until Thursday to vote on whether or not the state should hold a special session regarding the mandate.

Nine members of Wyoming’s Democratic Caucus told legislative leadership that they would be voting against the session. These members included Reps. Cathy Connolly, Mike Yin, Karlee Provenza and Andi Clifford and Sens. Chris Rothfuss and Mike Gierau.

“After considering the $25,000 per day cost of a special session, the lack of released federal rules in regards to how OSHA may enforce vaccine mandates, and the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution that indicates that federal laws override state directives, we believe a special session would be an undue burden to the taxpayer, a waste of time and resources for legislators and our staff, and would further cause an undue burden to Wyoming businesses who would be forced to choose  between following state OR federal law, requiring them to be in violation of one or the other,” the caucus wrote. 

Rep. Landon Brown, R-Cheyenne, was one of the Republican members of the legislature who also voted against the special session.

“My stance is clear: Our President’s mandate has no place in Wyoming,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, we have no clue what his mandate looks like under rule making process and we would be fighting against a rule that doesn’t exist yet. While I believe President Biden’s proposed rule is too far for government to reach, I also believe it is too far for government to enter into the hiring practices of private businesses.”

“If a private business wishes to impose hiring protocols that an employee is uncomfortable with, they have the choice to not enter into that employment,” he said. “Likewise, the business should be ready to suffer the consequences of the choices they choose to impose or not impose on their employees and the response from the public. Let the business succeed or fail based on their merit, not on government interference.”

Former Speaker of the House Kermit Brown praised Brown (no relation) for his vote.

“Courageous vote and absolutely the right thing to do. We don’t need to be getting in lawsuits with the Feds,” Kermit Brown wrote. “They are horribly expensive and trying to overcome the supremacy clause in the US Constitution is an uphill battle.”

“I always figured each day of the legislature cost $30,000 and I think I am low especially for a short special session. We are broke and don’t know it and we cannot afford silly expenditures like this,” he said.

As of Wednesday morning, a dozen senators had voted to hold the special session, while four had voted to not hold it. More than 25 representatives had also voted to hold the session.

Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, was one of the senators who voted to hold the session, posting a photo of his ballot to social media that included a post-it note with a message to legislative leadership.

“We now need a special session because the Republican establishment killed my bill on the same subject,” Bouchard wrote on the ballot. “Of course I will vote yes on the special session. Don’t Fauci our Wyoming!”

Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, also voted for the session.

“The dates of October 26-28 have also been scheduled for the special session, which would allow us to pass a bill banning mandates before the Banner Health deadline goes into effect,” Gray wrote on social media. “This is great news for our state! We must stop these radical vaccine mandates.”

It was not immediately clear whether the plan was to hold the session in person or virtually, but it would be around $45,000 cheaper to hold a session online.

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Park County GOP Chooses Not To Censure Member Over Violent & Vulgar Email

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By CJ Baker, Powell Tribune

Leaders of the Park County Republican Party have decided not to take action against a precinct committeeman for a vulgar email he sent to a state lawmaker last month.

At a Thursday meeting in Cody, members of the party’s central committee rejected a motion that would have asked Troy Bray to resign and then narrowly voted down a motion to censure him. The party held its nearly hour-long discussion in a closed-door executive session and told the roughly two dozen members present to not speak about it, leaving the details unclear.

While not commenting on what was discussed, Park County Republican Party Chairman Martin Kimmet said no one on the central committee condones what Bray said to state Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne.

“Any sane person knows one does wrong when they say something like that,” Kimmet said.

However, the chairman expressed frustration about the amount of attention paid to the email, saying the press and others have “beat this thing to death” despite Bray apologizing.

“How much of a pound of flesh do you want? They made it so tough that the man [Bray] lost his job … because he used a couple profanities,” Kimmet said. “Is that justice? I don’t think so.”

“I think that is as big a wrong or more of a wrong than using those profanities,” Kimmet added. “He was exercising his First Amendment rights,”

In Bray’s Sept. 12 email, the Powell resident expressed anger about Nethercott’s handling of a bill last winter that sought to prevent coerced vaccinations. Bray said the legislation — which was rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 4-1 vote — would have negated President Joe Biden’s ongoing efforts to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations (Nethercott says the bill would have had little effect.) The rest of Bray’s message criticized Nethercott, saying she’d ensured that Wyomingites would be subjected to tyranny.

“If I were as despicable a person as you, I would kill myself to rid the world of myself,” he wrote in part to the Senate Judiciary chairwoman, concluding with the line, “F— YOU C—.”

Bray signed it with his titles as a precinct committeeman and as secretary of Park County Republican Men’s Club. When they learned of the email, the men’s club requested Bray’s resignation, which he gave, and both it and Kimmet reached out to Nethercott to say the message didn’t represent their groups.

Comments criticized

After the contents of Bray’s message were published by the Casper Star-Tribune, the Speaker of the Wyoming House of Representatives, Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, and Senate President Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, called on Bray to resign his position within the Park County Republican Party.

“Attacking a state legislator through use of violent, lewd and derogatory language cannot and will not go unanswered in Wyoming,” Barlow and Dockstader wrote on Sept. 22, calling on the county and state parties to join them in seeking Bray’s resignation.

Three newspapers around the state also denounced the remarks in editorials and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Sam Galeotos did the same in a weekend column, calling for “a more forceful cry for censure and resignation” from the state and county parties, lawmakers and the Park County community. Galeotos said that pursuing accountability would discourage similar episodes and “go a long way toward promoting civil debate as a continuing standard in Wyoming.”

In an Oct. 1 statement, the Wyoming Republican Party called Bray’s comments inappropriate, obscene and vile — and said that type of communication “is neither appropriate or effective.”

However, “despite calls by the liberal media and others to dictate from the top down in a heavy-handed fashion, the party will not engage in ‘cancel culture’ tactics, nor will we participate in destroying people for poor decisions, judgment, and behavior,” the Wyoming Republican Party statement said in part. The party said the matter should be handled at the county level.

Bray apologized to Nethercott for the “inappropriate” language he used in the email — specifically the final word — but resisted the calls to resign his position as precinct committeeman.

In a Facebook post in September, Bray said he wouldn’t be bullied — and that the “cowardice and pettiness” shown by Nethercott and her supporters amid the controversy “proves every other word of my e-mail.” In an interview, Bray said he lost his job after his employer received a steady stream of phone calls complaining about his message.

Ahead of Thursday evening’s Park County Republican Party Central Committee meeting, Bray invited any local Republicans — and specifically those from his precinct, which encompasses much of the southern part of Powell — to a morning meeting at the Red Zone Sports Bar and Grill.

Only a few people showed up.

“My take on it is nobody really is that upset about it [the email],” Bray said of the low turnout. “I’m not taking it as a sign that everyone said they would have said the same thing, but they weren’t terribly upset.”

However, one of the people who attended Bray’s precinct meeting was Josh Shorb, a rural Powell Republican who took issue with the email.

“I didn’t agree with the language he used,” Shorb said in an interview. “… I said, ‘I don’t care if you would have wrote her a letter that the sky is blue and then used that language.’ The message … with what he disagreed with is immaterial to me; it’s the language. You don’t talk to somebody like that and you don’t talk to a lady like that.”

Shorb also said he felt like “there’s some things you just can’t apologize for.”

Closed-door discussion

At the central committee meeting, held at the Cody Cowboy Church, Shorb served as a proxy for another committee member and made a motion to ask Bray to resign his position.

Before he finished the sentence, other members of the party called for the subject to be taken up in a closed-door executive session. Attendees who weren’t members of the central committee were then asked to step outside the church, while committee members were told to turn off their cellphones and place them on a table in the front of the sanctuary.

The county party’s handling of the discussion differed from past efforts to censure then-state Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, in 2014 and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., earlier this year, which were held in the open. The Park County Republican Party’s bylaws don’t address executive sessions, but Kimmet indicated the decision was based on Robert’s Rules of Order.

In interviews, both he and Bray indicated the issue is now over with.

“The man did something wrong, he apologized for it … and Sen. Nethercott accepted that apology,” Kimmet said. “To me, that’s where it should have ended instead of certain people and certain press making a political issue of it. Really, it wasn’t a political issue, it was a personal issue.”

Other people “should have stayed out of it, and they cost that poor man,” Kimmet said, referring to the loss of Bray’s job. The chairman said there were more important issues, specifically naming the Cody school board’s spending and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Compared to other meetings the party has held this year, Thursday’s gathering had low attendance, with only 27 of the party’s roughly 75 precinct committeemen and women or their proxies present, representing 36 votes at the start of the meeting.

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Fox Host Questions Barrasso’s Lack Of Support for Policies Benefitting Wyoming

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso’s opposition to the budget reconciliation bill even though it contains provisions that would benefit Wyoming drew some sharp questions over the weekend from Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace.

During Barrasso’s appearance on the show, Wallace pointed out that the Republican is opposing the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, which contains an extension and increase of the child tax credit that the senator supported when he voted for former President Donald Trump’s tax cuts in 2017.

“Your state of Wyoming is one of the states that benefits most from the increase in the child tax credit. Why oppose that?” Wallace asked.

Barrasso began to discuss the bill’s multi-trillion dollar price tag, but Wallace interrupted him, asking the senator be specific about the child tax credit.

“It’s part of the bigger bill,” Barrasso said. “The issue for any member of the Senate or Congress, you have to look at the entire bill and say either you’re for it or you’re not.”

The senator also claimed congressional Democrats were not coming to talk with Republicans about any of the issues in the bill.

Wallace also questioned Barrasso on universal pre-kindergarten, another part of the bill.

“In the state of Wyoming, less than one-quarter of children 3 to 4, who would be covered in the bill, are enrolled in publicly funded preschool. Less than a quarter,” the Fox News host said. “Wouldn’t a lot of Wyoming families benefit from universal Pre-K?”

While the senator concluded some elements of the bill would benefit Wyoming residents, overall, the benefits did not outweigh the bill’s shortcomings.

“There’s a number of things that would help Wyoming,” he said. “Overall, Joe Biden’s policies have been hurting the people of Wyoming.”

Barrasso also said that he did not support universally free things such as community college, pre-K and daycare, adding there should be some sort of work requirements for recipients.

“That’s not the way our country has been founded,” he said.

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