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Wyoming Congressional Candidate Darin Smith Raises $177K In Second Quarter

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A Cheyenne businessman running for Congress has raised more than $170,000 in his bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Darin Smith, who entered the race to unseat Cheney in May, raised a little more than $177,000 as of June 30, according to his fundraising report for the second quarter of 2021.

Smith and other candidates for federal office are required to file quarterly reports on what they have raised and spent on the campaign. Smith’s report had not been listed on the main FEC page for Wyoming’s congressional race when Cowboy State Daily ran a story on the report last week.

Smith’s report showed he raised a total of $177,058 since entering the campaign, most of it, $171,000, coming from individuals. Another $5,550 came from loans, the reports showed.

State Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, raised $209,635 in donations from individuals in the second quarter of the year, all from individual donations, while state Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, raised $221,054. However, most of Gray’s second-quarter income, $165,194, came from loans made or guaranteed by the candidate.

Cheney, meanwhile, raised $1.7 million, with about $1.5 million coming from individuals.

Of Smith’s donations, $43,550 came from individuals from Wyoming, below Cheney’s Wyoming total of $53,750, but ahead of Gray’s at $33,750 and Bouchard’s at $28,625 so far this year.

Another candidate for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat whose report was filed with the FEC but not listed on its main Wyoming page was Sheridan businessman Bryan Miller, whose report shows he has raised $3,665 so far this year, all in loans.

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Virginians Biggest Contributors To Cheney Campaign, More Than $220K

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Residents of Virginia have donated more than four times as much to the campaign of U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney as residents of Wyoming, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Reports filed with the FEC show that so far this year, Virginia residents have donated $225,646 to Cheney, making the state the top contributor in the nation for the Republican. Wyoming, with a donation total of $53,750, comes in at seventh place — behind Virginia, Washington, D.C., California, New York, Maryland and Florida.

However, the Wyoming donations to the campaigns of Cheney’s top opponents were lower, the reports showed.

State Rep. Charles Gray, R-Casper, has raised about $33,750 from individual contributors in Wyoming so far this year, while Wyoming donors for state Sen. Anthony Bouchard have contributed $28,625, according to their reports.

The candidates for U.S. House were to submit reports by Thursday detailing donations to their campaigns and what they have spent through the second quarter of the year, which ended June 30.

Of the nine individuals who have announced they plan to challenge Cheney, the second-quarter reports of only three have been posted on the FEC’s website — Bouchard, Everett Denton Knapp of Gillette and Marissa Joy Selvig of Riverton.

The report of state Rep. Charles Gray, R-Casper, had not been processed for posting on the FEC website as of Friday, however, a representative provided the campaign’s raw report to Cowboy State Daily.

Other challengers to Cheney, including Cheyenne businessman Darin Smith, Sheridan resident Bryan Miller and Sheridan businesswoman Robyn Belinskey, are not yet listed on the FEC website as candidates for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat, although all announced their candidacies this spring.

The report showed that Cheney continued to handily outdistance her opponents for fundraising in the second quarter of the year, raising $1.7 million during the three months to bring her fundraising total so far this year to $3 million.

Of the money contributed to Cheney in the second quarter of the year, almost $1.5 million came from individuals and $262,500 came from political action committees.

According to Bouchard’s reports, his campaign raised $209,635 in the second quarter of the year, bringing his fundraising totals to $543,800 for the year.

All of Bouchard’s second-quarter donations came from individuals.

Gray’s second-quarter donations totaled $55,860, most of which, almost $54,615, came from individuals. The donations between April and the end of June raised Gray’s total contributions for the year to $96,014.

Another $165,194 was raised through a loan made or guaranteed by Gray during the second quarter, according to the records, raising his campaign’s total loan amount for the year to about $298,300.

The report for Knapp, who entered the race in May, showed he has raised $8,675, all if it from individuals.

Selvig’s report showed she raised $122.50 during the second quarter, all in the form of individual donations, bringing her fundraising total to $2,090 for the year.

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Cheney: Biden’s BLM Nominee Should Be Immediately Withdrawn

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The nomination of Tracy Stone-Manning to head the U.S. Bureau of Land Management should be withdrawn for a number of reasons, including her work with two men later imprisoned for acts of eco-terrorism, according to U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney.

Cheney joined her colleague U.S. Sen. John Barrasso this week in opposing President Joe Biden’s current nominee to head the BLM.

Cheney penned a letter to Biden on Thursday, formally asking him to withdraw Stone-Manning’s nomination to head the BLM for a number of reasons, including her previous friendship with two men who were convicted of putting spikes into hundreds of trees in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest to block a timber sale in 1989.

“Through these actions, she has shown she is not the right person to lead the BLM and her nomination should be immediately withdrawn,” the representative wrote in her letter to the president.

The letter cited several examples of Stone-Manning’s past policy positions and actions that Cheney felt made her unfit to lead the bureau, including her comments critical of “multiple use,” a BLM policy requiring that resources on public lands be used for a variety of purposes to best benefit the public. Cheney also pointed to Stone-Manning’s support for penalizing the energy industry, her opposition to the sage-grouse final environmental impact statements and her involvement in the tree-spiking incident.

Cheney added that Stone-Manning’s beliefs showed a “complete lack of understanding needed to manage lands consistent with BLM’s core mandate of multiple use,” which would continue to diminish economic activity in rural states and cause harm to communities across the west.

According to Fox News, Stone-Manning was granted immunity in the tree spiking incident in exchange for admitting that she retyped and sent an anonymous and threatening letter to the U.S. Forest Service on behalf of John P. Blount, her former roommate and friend.

Stone-Manning eventually testified against Blount and Jeffrey Fairchild, both of whom were later convicted of the tree spiking, according to E&E News. Court records indicated she had no knowledge of the tree spiking itself.

Cheney said Stone-Manning’s involvement in the incident was highly disturbing and added that former BLM director Bob Alley, who served under President Barack Obama, even felt her nomination should be withdrawn due to her ties with eco-terrorists.

This echoed similar statements made by Barrasso over the last month about the BLM nominee.

“Tracy Stone-Manning lied to the Senate (Energy and Natural Resources) Committee by claiming the tree spiking was ‘alleged’ & that she was never investigated,” Barrasso said on social media in late June. “Now, we have confirmation that neither of those things are true. @POTUS must withdraw her nomination.”

Stone-Manning is a longtime Montana government official and current senior adviser for conservation policy at the National Wildlife Federation.

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Bouchard, Gray Call For NPR, Public Media to Be Defunded

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Two of Wyoming’s legislators and current congressional candidates are calling for an end to federal funding for National Public Radio and other public media.

Both Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, and Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, called for defunding NPR on Monday.

“Public Media needs to be defunded! #DefundNPR #DefundTheLeft” Bouchard wrote on social media.

He added that Wyoming Republicans didn’t listen to the “liberal blather” on NPR.

Bouchard campaign spokeswoman April Poley told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that the senator made the post after being sent an article by state Rep. Bob Wharff, R-Evanston, from NPR quoting an author who maintains the Second Amendment is based in racist principles.

The article in question was a June 2 interview with historian Carol Anderson about her book “The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America,” which traces the roots of the Second Amendment and potential racist ties.

“One of the things that I argue throughout this book is that it is just being Black that is the threat. And so when you mix that being Black as the threat with bearing arms, it’s an exponential fear,” Anderson said in the interview. “This isn’t an anti-gun or a pro-gun book. This is a book about African Americans’ rights.”

Anderson was inspired to write the book after the 2016 shooting of Philando Castile, a Black man who had a license to carry a concealed weapon but was killed by police during a traffic stop. Castile’s girlfriend posted the aftermath of the shooting on social media, causing a frenzy online.

Poley pointed out that Gray posted a similar message about defunding NPR about four hours after Bouchard’s post.

#DefundNPR,” Gray wrote on Twitter Monday morning.

Gray told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday afternoon that he saw an article from Fox News that claimed NPR described the Declaration of Independence as a document with “flaws and deeply ingrained hypocrisies.”

“The radical left-wing NPR does not hold our values and should be immediately defunded,” the representative said.

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Cheney Votes to Remove Confederate Statues From Capitol, Lummis Calls Vote ‘Distraction’

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney joined the majority of her House colleagues this week in voting to remove all Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol.

However, a spokeswoman for one of Cheney’s Wyoming colleagues in the U.S. Senate dismissed the action as taking attention away from more important issues facing Congress.

Cheney joined 284 other representatives in voting for the resolution, which was aimed in part at removing a bust of Chief Justice Roger Taney, who wrote the Dred Scott decision that declared Black people were not U.S. citizens.

“I joined the majority of my House Republican colleagues in voting to replace the bust of Chief Justice Taney, who wrote the pro-slavery Dred Scott decision, with the statue of Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice,” Cheney told Cowboy State Daily on Friday. “I also support removing statues of those who served in the confederacy. They should not have a place of honor in our Capitol Building.”

The measure said removal of Taney’s bust will show that Congress recognizes the error made with the 1857 decision.

“While the removal of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney’s bust from the United States Capitol does not relieve the Congress of the historical wrongs it committed to protect the institution of slavery, it expresses Congress’s recognition of one of the most notorious wrongs to have ever taken place in one of its rooms, that of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney’s Dred Scott v. Sandford decision,” the legislation said.

A statue of Taney was removed from the Maryland State House in 2017, according to National Public Radio.

The legislation would direct the architect of the Capitol to identify and remove all statues and busts that depict members of the Confederacy from public display within 45 days of the resolution’s enactment.

Any removed statue that was provided to the Capitol by a state would be returned to the state, which could then elect to replace it with another honoree.

Among the Confederate statues, there is a statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, displayed in Statuary Hall. The bill also mentioned the removal of statues of Charles Brantley Aycock, John Caldwell Calhoun and James Paul Clarke, three men who defended slavery and segregation.

However, a spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis said that the vote was ultimately a distraction from the real issues the senator and the people of Wyoming wanted Congress to address.

“States have historically decided which residents of theirs they want to honor, and this move flies in the face of that tradition, but more importantly this is a distraction from the real issues that Senator Lummis and the people of Wyoming want Congress to address, namely the border crisis, rising inflation, the Biden administration’s attack on American energy and the national debt,” spokeswoman Abegail Cave told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.

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Lummis, Barrasso Criticize ATF For Proposed Pistol Brace Rule

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis have joined a majority of their Republicans in the Senate in sending a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms asking it to withdraw a newly proposed gun rule.

Barrasso and Lummis joined 46 of their Republican colleagues in signing the letter to the ATF late last week that criticized proposed restrictions on “stabilizing braces” for handguns, saying they amounted to an infringement on Second Amendment rights.

“Every day, people across Wyoming responsibly use their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms,” Barrasso said. “This proposed rule threatens to turn law-abiding Americans into criminals by imposing the largest executive branch-initiated gun registration and confiscation program in American history. Our letter calls on the Biden administration to correct this mistake and withdraw this misguided rule.”

The rule, which was proposed earlier this month, would reclassify many pistols used with stabilizing braces as short-barreled rifles. A federal license is required to own a short-barreled rifle under the National Firearms Act, according to a Fox News article.

The letter from the senators said that by creating this rule, the ATF is suggesting the braces are “dangerous alterations to firearms designed to help criminals evade federal law,” which couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Stabilizing braces were initially designed and manufactured to assist disabled combat veterans in shooting larger pistols that were otherwise too cumbersome for a disabled gun owner to use,” Lummis told Cowboy State Daily. “The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has previously ruled that they are permissible. This decision to overturn that ruling infringes on the Second Amendment rights of disabled veterans and non-veterans alike, across Wyoming and the nation.”

According to the ATF, the proposed rule would not affect stabilizing braces that are “designed to conform to the arm,” only devices that are designed to allow a handgun to be fired from the shoulder, like a rifle, the Fox News article said.

Republican Senators argued that the ATF’s criteria with this new rule is “vague, confusing, and largely subjective.”

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Barrasso: Biden’s Eco-Terrorist BLM Nominee Should Be Removed

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The involvement of President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in what U.S. Sen. John Barrasso described as an “eco-terrorist operation” should be cause to withdraw her nomination, Barrasso said.

Barrasso said a recent discovery of activities by Tracy Stone-Manning linked to a plan to embed spikes in trees that were targeted for harvest should lead to her being removed from consideration for the post.

“Tracy Stone-Manning collaborated with eco-terrorists who had booby-trapped trees with metal spikes,” Barrasso wrote on Twitter Monday morning. “She mailed the threatening letter for them and she was part of the cover-up.”

This was in reference to Stone-Manning’s involvement in a 1989 incident in Idaho, when individuals placed metal spikes in trees in a national forest to prevent them from being sold in a timber sale.

“Tracy Stone-Manning lied to the Senate (Energy and Natural Resources) Committee by claiming the tree spiking was ‘alleged’ & that she was never investigated,” Barrasso said on social media Monday. “Now, we have confirmation that neither of those things are true. @POTUS must withdraw her nomination.”

According to Fox News, Stone-Manning was granted immunity in the incident in exchange for testifying that she retyped and sent an anonymous and threatening letter to the U.S. Forest Service on behalf of John P. Blount, her former roommate and friend.

“This investigator has confirmed what I have been saying,” Barrasso also wrote on social media Monday, linking to an article about the BLM nominee from E&E News, which covers energy and environmental issues. “Tracy Stone-Manning collaborated with eco-terrorists who had booby-trapped trees with metal spikes. She mailed the threatening letter for them and she was part of the cover-up.”

Barrasso is a ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and has been outspoken about Stone-Manning’s ties to the incident. He has said before that her involvement with the environmental group Earth First should disqualifying her for the BLM post.

Stone-Manning eventually testified against two activist friends, Blount and Jeffrey Fairchild, both of whom were later convicted of embedding spikes in hundreds of trees in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest in an effort to block a 1989 timber sale, according to E&E News. Court records indicated she had no knowledge of the tree spiking.

Stone-Manning is a longtime Montana government official and current senior adviser for conservation policy at the National Wildlife Federation.

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Wyoming Democratic Party Infiltrated By Political Spies; “We Will Press On,” Spokeswoman Says

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s Democratic Party will not be intimidated by efforts by a pair of political operatives to infiltrate its ranks as reported by the New York times, according to a party spokeswoman.

Nina Hebert told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that the two alleged spies, identified by the newspaper as Beau Maier and Sophia LaRocca, found nothing within the Democratic Party that could embarrass the party.

“We’re sad to see people like this exist in this world, although we aren’t surprised,” Hebert said. “If part of their goal was to make it harder for us to welcome volunteers, they’ve been totally unsuccessful. We will continue to work and press on.”

The newspaper published a story Friday alleging that the Maier and LaRocca were recruited by conservative forces to infiltrate the Wyoming Democratic Party and collect information that could be damaging to the party, as well as Democrat and moderate Republican candidates for office.

Maier is a Cody native and the nephew to conservative commentator Glenn Beck. He and LaRocca previously worked for Project Veritas, a far-right activist group.

The New York Times, citing unidentified sources, said the operation was funded by Gore-Tex heiress Susan Gore, who founded the Wyoming Liberty Group. According to the story by Mark Mazetti and Adam Goldman, Maier and LaRocca received training for covert operations at a ranch near Cody owned by Blackwater founder Erik Prince, where Maier’s mother works as a cook. 

Hebert said while she knows the couple secretly recorded conversations among Wyoming Democratic Party staffers, they collected no damning information.

“They might have gotten some recordings of people saying they were overworked, tired and maybe thinking ‘Why do I do this job?'” she said. “But we’re not doing anything wrong. We stay on the right side of the law. It’s much ado about nothing.”

Hebert said that while the Democratic Party has brought their lawyer into conversations about this situation, they currently have no evidence of anything illegal taking place.

However, she added the party would welcome an investigation into donations made by Maier to the Wyoming Democratic Party.

“We haven’t currently returned that donation, but we also have no interest in keeping dirty money,” she said.

Hebert added that the party also doesn’t believe the Wyoming Republican Party is involved with the political espionage.

Wyoming Republican Party officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

The alleged operation was called a disgrace to the state by a state legislator whose husband runs an organization reported targeted by the two.

Rep. Karlee Provenza, D-Laramie, whose husband Nate Martin heads “Better Wyoming,” a liberal grassroots organization, penned an open letter to her colleagues in the Legislature on Friday criticizing the action.

“Maier, LaRocca and the people who hired them have disgraced the integrity of the State of Wyoming, the chambers we serve and the relationships we have built with one another,” the representative said. “They have dishonored the institution we all swore an oath to serve.”

She added that Maier, LaRocca and their employers were working to tear the Wyoming House of Representatives apart and cause chaos and distrust among Republicans and Democrats.

Provenza also said this would be a defining moment for the Wyoming Legislature and politicians should decide what they think is acceptable.

“What sort of legacy do we want this Legislature to leave, and what must be done to ensure our legacy is one of integrity, respect and honor?” she wrote.

According to the New York Times account, Maier approached Better Wyoming posing as a military veteran suffering from PTSD who supported the legalization of marijuana to treat medical problems.

LaRocca, who at the time identified herself as Sofia “Cat” Deabreu, participated in the fall 2019 Better Wyoming Grassroots Institute, a multi-week course meant to equip Wyoming residents with skills and knowledge to build grassroots power and effect change in their communities. 

Both Martin and Provenza befriended the operatives while they were undercover and even shared meals together.

“The whole time, they were lying to my wife and me about who they were and what they were up to, and they were actively trying to get us to say or do things that could ruin our careers and hurt us,” Martin told the New York Times. “Politics aside, that’s just a disgusting thing to do to other people. But, again, the people who hired them support policies that defund public schools and block folks from getting healthcare, so it’s pretty clear they don’t care much about people to begin with.” 

It is unknown what information Maier and Larocca captured, and none of it has been released publicly so far.

In February 2020, a person affiliated with Maier and LaRocca secretly recorded Martin and another Better Wyoming staffer after an event at the Laramie County Library in Cheyenne. That footage was posted on a now-deleted website, WyoRinoHunters.com.  

Maier also made two donations to Better Wyoming of $1,000 each.  

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Cheney: It’s Unfortunate Biden Chose to Meet With Putin

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney is questioning President Joe Biden’s decision to meet this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin during an international summit.

Cheney appeared on the Hugh Hewitt Show Thursday morning to talk about her distrust for the Russian president and her belief Biden shouldn’t give the Russian president a platform.

“It was unfortunate that President Biden decided to go to this meeting with Putin,” she said on the radio program. “We see this again and again where U.S. presidents don’t recognize that meeting with Putin gives him a platform on the world stage.”

Biden and Putin met for three hours on Wednesday to discuss cyberattacks, the conflict in Ukraine, arms control and more, according to The Associated Press.

Cheney said Biden should clearly communicate by his actions that he won’t stand for the alleged misconduct of Putin and other Russians, such as their influence in the 2016 election. She added Biden and his administration did not appear to have a strategy before attending the meeting with Putin.

“I think there were some other things President Biden should have been doing rather than that,” she said.

According to CNN, the U.S. and Russia reached several agreements during the meeting, including the decision to allow each other’s ambassadors to return to their posts. Russia’s ambassador to the United States was called back to Moscow in March after Biden referred to Putin as a “killer,” while the American ambassador to Russia returned to Washington, D.C., in April.

The two leaders also agreed to establish task forces to deal with cyberattacks.

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All of Wyoming’s Delegation Oppose Teaching Critical Race Theory In Schools

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A congressional measure critical of “critical race theory” has won the support of U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis.

Earlier this week, Lummis backed a bill that would prohibit federal funding from being used to teach the New York Times’ 1619 Project (named after the year Black slaves were first brought to the American colonies) and critical race theory in schools.

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton introduced the act last July, but reintroduced this week, with support from Lummis, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, to name a few.

“Students and teachers should have an open and honest dialogue in the classroom about our nation’s history,” Lummis said. “However, the 1619 Project is pushing an anti-American agenda and distorted, revisionist history with hard-earned taxpayer dollars. I’m pleased to join my colleagues in opposing this waste of federal money.”

Lummis is not alone among Wyoming’s congressional delegates in her opposition to critical race theory. U.S. Sen. John Barrasso echoed his colleague’s sentiments in a statement to Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.

“Students need foundational knowledge about American history and a good understanding of our governing institutions,” he said. “The 1619 Project is the far left’s attempt to force a political and divisive agenda on students across the country.”

In a comment to Cowboy State Daily, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney said decisions about teaching children should be made by parents and local stakeholders in Wyoming schools, not Washington bureaucrats.

“I strongly oppose the mandated teaching of critical race theory or using taxpayer dollars to advance that curriculum,” she said. “Decisions about teaching and educating our children should not come from Washington bureaucrats or from radical liberals with extreme liberal agendas, but should be made by parents and local stakeholders in Wyoming so we can instill students with the Western values and principles that our state embodies.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education proposed priorities for American history and civics education grant programs which include encouraging districts to use curriculum related to the New York Times’ 1619 Project (a journalism project that focuses on the consequences of slavery and contributions of Black Americans), critical race theory and the work of anti-racism activist and author Ibram X. Kendi.

Critical race theory is described as some as proposing that racism is a social construct ingrained in American life and laws.

Last month, Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow spoke out against the teaching of critical race theory in Wyoming schools.

“The draft rule is an attempt to normalize teaching controversial and politically trendy theories about America’s history. History and civics should not be secondary to political whim,” she said. “Instead, history and civics instruction should engage students in objective, non-partisan analyses of historical and current events.

“For good reason, public schools do not promote particular political ideologies or religions over others,” she continued. “This federal rule attempts to break from that practice and use taxpayer dollars to do just that.”

While Balow agreed that America needed to update and renew its expectations for teaching and learning about history and civics, she countered that every school board, state legislature and state superintendent should work to build a local consensus about what should be taught and what materials should be used in classrooms.

“Every family should be engaged in activities that ensure the rising generation is properly prepared to be informed citizens,” Baow said. “Every student deserves a rich and engaging education about America’s triumphs, treacheries, losses, and victories. Our touchstone is our shared principle that all Americans have infinite value and individual freedom and responsibility. We must strive to find common goals and values as a nation, not tear each other and our country apart.”

In late April, Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed a bill that outlawed state teachers to instruct on critical race theory and other “social justice” issues.

In addition to Idaho, Florida, Arkansas and Oklahoma have officially banned the teaching of critical race theory in K-12 schools, but multiple other state legislatures are discussing the same decision, according to Newsweek.

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