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Wyoming Republican Party

Another Complaint Against State GOP Filed, Alleges Unfair Enforcement Of Rules

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

A Sheridan County Republican Party member has filed a complaint with the Wyoming Republican Party accusing it of picking and choosing which counties it punishes for rule violations.

Gail Symons formally filed a complaint with the party late last week, accusing it of ignoring four county parties that committed rule violations similar to those that have state GOP officials deciding whether the Laramie County Republican Party will lose most of its state convention delegates.

“That certainly undermines the State Party position of representing Wyoming Republicans,” Symons wrote in her complaint.

The Wyoming Republican Party is holding its convention later this week in Sheridan. During the convention, delegates from the state’s 23 counties will vote on issues such as the party’s platform and favorite candidates in August GOP primary races.

Before the convention, the event’s Credentials Committee will decide most of the delegates from Laramie County — the state’s largest and home to about 30% of the state’s Republicans — will be allowed to take part.

The county party has been accused of several rule violations during its own county meeting in March, including failing to vote for delegates and alternates on a secret ballot and failing to take nominations for delegates from the floor.

But Symons said Laramie County’s possible failure to perform a secret ballot when electing delegates was a “very minor infraction” and said there were other infractions she found in other counties that are not being punished. 

For instance, she said, the Republican parties in Sheridan, Sublette and Albany counties failed to publish notice of their county gatherings in their local newspapers.

In addition, she said, in Sublette County, attendees of the county convention also did not vote on delegates using a secret ballot, and Crook County Republicans failed to notify the county’s clerk of their meeting.

“There is no reason to believe that the violations of by-laws for the five counties, including Laramie County, were a deliberate attempt to circumvent or undermine the integrity of the processes,” Symons said. “A decision to further diminish the validity of the State Convention in carrying out the business of the party on behalf of all Wyoming Republicans through sanctions in excess of the offenses will do significant harm to both Republicans and the party.”

Her statements echo those of Dani Olsen, chair of the Laramie County Republican Party, who told Cowboy State Daily last week that the state GOP’s selective enforcement of rules amounted to “voter fraud” and the disenfranchisement of 20,000 registered Republicans in Laramie County.

However Bryan Miller, chairman of the Sheridan County Republican Party, denied Symons’ claim and said the county party did publish a notice of its meeting. 

“If Ms. Symons, as a Republican Party precinct committeewoman, or for that matter, anyone else who has a problem with the local party, they should feel free to address the issue within the party leadership before putting pen to paper for the world to see,” Miller said. “It would save her the embarrassment of being wrong in the public light – again.”

Roger Connett, Crook County GOP chairman, said Symons never reached out to him to talk to him about this accusation. He said he emailed the clerk as he has done in years past to notify her of the convention, of which he said she attended. 

Although this notification method fulfills the Crook GOP bylaws, it does not meet the state bylaws.

The Credentials Committee will scrutinize the process Laramie County implemented to elect its delegates and will make a recommendation on the matter to all party delegates to rule on before the convention begins.

Martin Kimmet, Park County GOP chairman and a member of the Credentials Committee, said in a phone interview Monday morning he had not even been made aware of Symons’ complaint. 

“People want to write rules and want things their way,” Kimmet said. “You just have to have a set of rules and go by it. I have a real compassion for the delegates from Laramie. They’d like to go to convention. In the same vein, we should make sure things are done right.”

Laramie County has 37 delegates set to attend the convention. If the Credentials Committee decides to do so — and its actions are backed by the rest of the convention’s delegates — it can keep 34 delegates off of the convention floor.

Natrona County is already limited to six delegates — fewer than 20% of its usual turnout — because of an ongoing legal dispute over dues with the Wyoming Republican Party.

Symons said she had received no response to her complaint as of Monday afternoon but had heard it would not be brought up at convention.

Symons is a member of the Frontier Republicans —  a group that bills itself as encouraging integrity, respect and civil discourse in political discussions.

Meanwhile, state GOP Chairman Frank Eathorne, interviewed on the Cowboy State Politics podcast on Monday, accused former members of party leadership of unfairly trying to “lay blame and point a finger on executive leadership.” 

Eathorne said the Credentials Committee is doing its job with the review of Laramie County’s delegates.

“It’s up to the delegates and in this case the Credentials Committee … (to) decide if a delegate or delegation is legitimate or not,” he said.

The party’s executive committee chose to refer the matter to the Credentials Committee after receiving a complaint about the Laramie County GOP process from a party member.

Eathorne wouldn’t make any predictions about what will happen to Laramie County’s delegates at the convention but said due to the focus taking place on election integrity nationally, “this is not a good time to do anything administratively that would appear to rig an election.”

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Carbon County GOP Head Pushes For Removing State Laws Governing Political Parties

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Elimination of the state laws governing the actions of Wyoming’s major political parties would be the best way to return control of the parties to their members, according to a Carbon County Republican Party official.

Joey Correnti IV, chairman of the Carbon County GOP, recently recommended major changes in the way the state’s Republican and Democratic parties operate, including the elimination of primary elections for partisan offices, to give their members more control over the parties.

“There seems to be a misconception that a political party is a branch of government or anything other than a private entity,” he told Cowboy State Daily.

Correnti’s suggestion was included in a letter to Troy Bray, a precinct committeeman in the Park County Republican Party, that was sparked by an email Bray sent to a Republican state senator suggesting that she kill herself and containing obscene references. In Bray’s email, he identified himself as a precinct committeeman in Park County.

Correnti’s letter, which was also sent to Wyoming Republican Party Chairman Frank Eathorne and Park County Republican Party Chairman Martin Kimmett, condemned Bray’s email and asked him to step down from his position, noting that Wyoming law does not contain a provision allowing elected officials to be removed from office for misbehavior

As a possible solution, Correnti suggested the elimination of Wyoming laws that govern how major parties can operate as a way to return the control of those parties to their members.

“I think it’s an absolute tragedy that the major political parties, as private non-governmental entities, don’t have the statutory authority to regulate themselves and their own membership internally …” he wrote.

Those laws spell out items including how party officials will be selected at the precinct, county and state level and how often conventions are to be held. 

Correnti told Cowboy State Daily that eliminating those laws would allow members to have better control of their parties, including the ability to remove elected officials from office.

The major parties would then operate under the laws now governing only minor parties, such as the Green Party, which do not allow for a primary election.

Instead, candidates for a general election would be chosen at local and state gatherings, similar to closed caucuses held in other states, Correnti said.

“A primary election is not a pre-general election,” he said. “It’s a mechanism for a party to select its nominee.”

The change would give the party members at the local level a better chance to select a candidate for the general election who will reflect their beliefs, he said.

“Because the party cannot control its membership, there are nominees who end up on the general election ballot who can say ‘I am a Republican because I say I am’ and cater to voters from outside and then go and execute legislation,” he said. 

Under Correnti’s plan, party members would attend precinct caucuses where policies and recommendations on candidates would be developed, then forwarded for consideration at county-level meetings, followed by discussions during the party’s state convention. Delegates to the state convention would be selected during the county meetings and those delegates would select candidates for general elections.

Primary elections would continue for non-partisan offices, Correnti added.

Such an arrangement would resolve issues such as voter crossover, when voters change parties to vote in the other party’s primary. Also resolved would be debates over whether the state should have a runoff system when no candidate in a primary wins more than half of the votes cast.

“We don’t have to have a primary runoff, it would be something we would take care of at the convention,” he said. “It would help address concerns over crossover voting because being in the party long enough to be a delegate at a convention would be a larger commitment than people want to make.”

The overall system brings the selection of representation closer to the voters at the grassroots level, he added.

“When something is picked at the precinct caucus, ratified at the county level and ratified again at the state convention, that necessarily includes a focus on the grassroots voices,” he said. “The opportunity, especially at that precinct level, is open to anyone who is on the voter rolls as Republican.”

Correnti said he is waiting to forward a formal suggestion to legislators until after they review some other legislation aimed at the primary election system, such as one proposing a runoff system when no candidate in a primary election receives more than half the votes cast.

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Carbon County GOP Chair Condemns Park County Commiteeman For Obscene & Violent Email

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Although the Wyoming Republican Party has remained silent about a violent and obscene email sent by a Park County party official to a sitting Republican state senator, another county party chairman has spoken up against it.

Carbon County GOP Chairman Joey Correnti issued a statement on Tuesday condemning Park County precinct committeeman Troy Bray for the email he wrote to State Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne, in which he suggested she kill herself.

Correnti stopped short of asking Bray to resign but did say he should consider stepping down in favor of someone who is “more prepared to respect the responsibility” of the position in the Park County Republican Party.

Stating that he had “grave concern” over the “vulgar content” of the email, Correnti said the message would not be tolerated by someone outside of the party, therefore it cannot be tolerated from within.

“It is most necessary to actively, immediately, and directly condemn it when it comes from within our own ranks,” Correnti wrote. “We, as a party, cannot stand on principle if those principles are not applied first and foremost within our own party and among our own membership.”

Correnti also took issue with how Bray signed the email. Although Bray said he sent it as a private citizen, he used his title as precinct committeeman.

“The fact that you applied the title and position as an elected representative of the people, whose voices you likely did not get a majority consensus from in order to apply your title to your shameful rant, is especially concerning as it violates the trust vested in you by the people as bearer of the title ‘Precinct Representative” of the Republican Party,” he said.

To date, Bray said he apologized to Nethercott but has declined to resign, stating that he refuses to “be bullied” by what he called “leftists” and “RINO class of scum.”

As it stands, there’s nothing the Republican Party can do to address Bray’s action outside of condemning it.

Last week, Park County GOP chair Martin Kimmet said he was powerless to remove Bray from his position but would welcome efforts by the Wyoming Legislature to provide a process to remove elected officials from office in the future.

Correnti echoed Kimmet’s request calling it an “absolute tragedy” that major political parties can’t “regulate themselves”.

“I personally urge the Wyoming Legislature to pass a bill … returning the internal operations of all political parties in Wyoming back to the membership of the private entitles that political parties actually are,” he said.

Correnti suggested a repeal of the state laws regulating how major political parties are operated.

State Senate President Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, and House Speaker Rep. Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, signaled last week they would support efforts to develop “appropriate statutory means” to remove elected officials for behavior such as Bray’s.

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Natrona County GOP Chides State Republican Party For Attacks On County Clerks

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Natrona County Republicans are chiding the state Republican Party for criticism of the state’s county clerks for clerical errors.

The party, in a resolution adopted by its central committee Sept. 16, expressed support for clerks and criticized the state party for trying to create the impression there is a problem with Wyoming’s election system.

“(The) Natrona County Republican Party rejects any statement and/or effort by statewide Republican Party leadership which undermines, disparages or otherwise casts doubt upon the Wyoming election process,” said the resolution. “(The) Natrona County Republican Party cannot support the state Republican Party’s efforts to misinform the general public of a problem that does not exist.”

The resolution stems from a review of Laramie County election results conducted by the state GOP, said Dr. Joseph McGinley, a state committeeman for the Natrona County Republican Party.

The review revealed errors in the way the county clerk calculated how many precinct committee people would be elected from some precincts.

Laramie County’s clerk apologized for the error and pledged to put safeguards in place to prevent such problems in the future, but McGinley said members of the state party are attempting to use the error to imply there are widespread problems with the state’s election system.

“I agree, it should be accurate, but we’re all human and mistakes can happen,” he said. “County clerks are hard working individuals … they are very busy and they are doing very good work in the community. To have this kind of unnecessary public attack is unfortunate.”

Rather than announcing the errors publicly, the state GOP should have approached the county clerk herself to raise the issue, McGinley added.

“You don’t … put it out publicly and say they’re doing a bad job,” he said. “That’s not the way you do things and it undermines the integrity of the clerk’s office.”

As a result, Natrona County Republicans felt compelled to issue a statement of support for county clerks and point out that according to Secretary of State Ed Buchanan, there have only been three instances of election fraud in Wyoming since 2000.

“We said ‘We appreciate the way you are doing things in Natrona County and more generally across the state,’” he said. “There are no widespread election irregularities. It’s really commendable that the county clerks have done such a good job over the years.”

The resolution will be submitted to the state Republican Party’s central committee for discussion during its meeting in November.

However, McGinley said because the state party orchestrated the review of Laramie County’s election process, he does not believe the resolution will win the central committee’s approval.

“They’re the ones that arranged the targeted approach to the Laramie County clerk to begin with,” he said. “I believe they won’t be amenable to the approach we took.”

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Wyoming GOP Rejects Complaint About Uinta GOP Elections

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The Uinta County Republican Party did nothing wrong when it allowed party officers to vote in an annual election for party leaders, according to the Wyoming Republican Party.

The Wyoming GOP Central Committee rejected a complaint filed by Jon Conrad against the elections held in March to elect new leadership for the county party.

Conrad alleged officers in the county’s party were allowed to vote in the election even though such action is not allowed under state law.

But the Wyoming Republican Party’s Central Committee, during a meeting May 4, disagreed with Conrad’s position, voting 48-2 to accept the results of a party investigation that showed no party rules or state laws had been violated.

“The (State Central Committee) voted … in favor of accepting the conclusions of the Investigative Committee that state and Uinta County bylaws both authorize county officers to vote on matters before the county central committee and neither the information provided nor the Wyoming statutes cited supported Mr. Conrad’s assertion,” the state party said in a prepared statement on its website.

The challenge stems from a dispute over the election of party officers during the county central committee meeting March 16.

A county central committee is made up of people elected from a county to serve as a committeeman or committeewoman. That group elects a county party chairman and a man and woman to serve as members of the state central committee.

According to a lawsuit filed against the Uinta County Republican Party, the county’s central committee has 36 members, but 40 people were allowed to cast votes. The lawsuit alleged the four extra voters were not precinct committee men or women, having lost their efforts to win those posts in the last primary election.

The lawsuit also alleged the four voters cast votes for themselves to serve in the county party’s top positions, which they now hold.

The dispute led to a formal complaint being filed with the attorney general’s office in addition to the Wyoming Republican Party. The attorney general’s office declined to take up the issue.

Action on the lawsuit is pending in state district court.

According to the GOP’s statement, four state central committee members abstained from voting on the Investigative Committee’s report. The four were not identified.

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Lawsuit: Uinta County GOP Leaders Voted Illegally

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A dispute over the election of Uinta County Republican Party officials has moved into the courtroom with the filing of a lawsuit alleging that the party’s new chairman and other officials were improperly allowed to vote for themselves.

Seven GOP members, including two current and one former legislator, are suing the county party, its current chair, its past chair and its state committeeman and committeewoman, asking that the election that put the officers in place in March be declared void.

“Allowing the Uinta County Republican Party to disregard state statute by granting voting privileges to whomever they so desire, need, or wish to vote, in an obvious, blatant and brazen effort to maintain power among a dynastic group of exclusive individuals, is a violation of the (state) election code, which precludes those who are not qualified to vote in order to properly preserve election integrity and to prevent election fraud and corruption,” said the lawsuit filed April 16 in state district court in Evanston.

But Elizabeth “Biffy” Jackson, elected chairwoman of the party during the March meeting, denied the allegations.

“The 2021 Uinta County leadership elections were held under the exact same rules as all elections in the past, as far back as anyone currently involved can remember and in strict accordance with the bylaws governing them,” she said in a letter to the editor of the Uinta County Herald.

The lawsuit stems from a dispute over the election of party officers during the party central committee’s meeting on March 16.

Under state law, each county party’s central committee is made up of committeemen and committeewomen elected from their precincts during each primary election. During meetings on odd-numbered years, the county committees elect a chairman and state committeeman and committeewoman. The committeeman and committeewoman, along with the party chair, represent the county at meetings of the state central committee.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Dale Cottam, said while Uinta County recognizes 36 central committee members, 40 people were allowed to cast votes at the committee’s March 16 meeting by Lyle Williams, who was the committee’s chair at the time.

The extra four voters were Williams, wife Jana Lee Williams, daughter Elizabeth Jackson and close friend Karl Allred, the lawsuit said, adding all four were allowed to vote even though they were not precinct committeemen or committeewomen and as such not members of the central committee.

“The improper and illegal allowance of these four individual defendants to vote resulted in the election of … Mrs. Jackson as the county chairman, … Mr. Allred as state committeeman, and … Mrs. Williams as state committeewoman,” said a brief filed in support of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit said all four lost their campaigns to serve as precinct committeemen and committeewomen during the state’s August 2020 primary election.

It also alleged that the four were allowed to vote despite advice to the contrary by Uinta County Clerk Amanda Hutchinson.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Jon Conrad, a committee member who ran for the chairman’s position, state Sen. Wendy Schuler, R-Evanston, Rep. Danny Eyre, R-Lyman, former Rep. Ron Micheli and county central committee members Clarence Vranish, Clara Jean Vranish and Troy Nolan.

The lawsuit asks the court to declare the elections null and void, to order new election to select officers and to rule that Jana Williams, Jackson and Allred take no action in the positions “they now improperly purport to hold.”

The lawsuit said it is important that the court move quickly because of the role Jackson, Jana Williams and Allred could play in the State Central Committee of the Wyoming Republican Party.

“Time is of the essence as the State Central Committee will take its first official action on May 14 … to elect a state party chair and other leadership positions,” said a brief filed in support of the lawsuit. “These improperly and illegally selected representatives from Uinta County could represent each of the county central committee members and each registered Republican in the county if the court does not act quickly.”

However, in her letter published April 14, Jackson accused those opposing the outcome of the March meeting of attempting to “unseat the long-standing leadership of the party and replace them with new officers.”

“Failing by a narrow margin to do so, they have resorted to misguided and dishonest attempts to get their way by circumventing the electoral process,” she wrote.

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