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Al Simpson To Give Eulogy For His “Oldest Friend” Norm Mineta In June

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

On June 11, former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson will give the eulogy for his lifelong friend Norman Mineta at a church in Washington, D.C.

The story of the friendship between Simpson and Mineta was not entirely typical. 

The young boys met as Boy Scouts in rural Wyoming in the 1940s, but both went on to have successful careers in congressional politics on opposite sides of the aisle — Simpson as a Republican from Wyoming, Mineta as a Democrat from California. 

The two men nurtured their friendship for nearly eight decades despite ideological differences, a rarity in this time of political partisanship. 

What really sets their friendship apart, however, is where they met.

Simpson was born and raised as the son of a man who would later serve as the governor of Wyoming, while Mineta’s family was imprisoned at the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp near Simpson’s hometown of Cody – simply because of race.

“Oldest Friend”

When Simpson was notified of the death of his friend on May 3, he told Cowboy State Daily, he took the news hard.

“It was the oldest friendship I had,” he said. “We were 12-year-old boys, and that was a tough one. I went out there to the camp and howled into the moon.”

The Heart Mountain Relocation Camp, located between Cody and Powell, was one of 10 internment camps that housed 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. The camps were created as a result of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which authorized the incarceration of any American of Japanese descent in an effort to protect the country against “espionage.” 

Two-thirds of those incarcerated were U.S. citizens, born and raised in the United States.

“It was the first time in our history when we had taken American citizens just because of their race,” Simpson said. “Don’t forget, we were at war with the Germans – but we couldn’t tell who they were. And we were at war with the Italians – but we couldn’t tell who they were. But we could sure as hell know who the Japanese-Americans were. And they came to get ‘em.

“They were put there by war hysteria,” Simpson continued, “and a failure of leadership. Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the order to take them in and (give them) alien status… and the Supreme Court of the United States, it went right up there. And in a 6-3 decision, they said it was really important to do it.” 

“Went Up In Weeks”



The camp in northwest Wyoming sprang up nearly overnight once word spread of the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on Dec. 7, 1941.

“The very day of Dec. 7, they came to (Mineta’s) home,” Simpson said. “The federal authorities came to Norm’s home and began the process to take them to Heart Mountain. They were taken to the racetrack at Santa Anita (California) and put in the stalls temporarily until the train could come for them and take them directly to the Heart Mountain Relocation Center at Heart Mountain, which was nothing but a dirt road between Powell and Cody. 

“And it went up in weeks,” he continued. “They could build, I think, one barrack every two days or something like that – and then 11,000 people were out there. It became the biggest city in Wyoming.”

Simpson recalled that while the camp was active, the Japanese-Americans who were captives there lived their lives as normally as possible.

“Boys would go down to the river and swim,” Simpson said. “And Norm said the guards wouldn’t even bother them. ‘That’s just those boys counting magpies down on the river.’ 

“They had a football team, the Heart Mountain Eagles, and boy, nobody would play them,” he continued. “They had a scrimmage and they beat Powell and Cody by 45 points. And they had their own dances, and their graduations, and all the things that went with it.”

Boy Scouts

The activity that brought the two young boys from different cultures together, though, was the Boy Scouts.

“People didn’t know that there were three Boy Scout troops out there,” he said. “And so they invited the local Powell and Cody troops to come out – and some of them wouldn’t do it.”

Citing racial prejudice on the part of some of the townspeople, Simpson said that some of the local troops wouldn’t acknowledge the Scouts at Heart Mountain.

“But we had a Scoutmaster, Glenn Livingston, and he said, ‘We’re gonna go out there, and check with your parents, if anybody doesn’t want you to go there, or your parents don’t allow that, you let me know.’ And there was only one parent that said, ‘No, don’t go out there.’ 

“So we went out there – Troop number 50 – and we tied knots and did all those things you do when you’re a Scout,” he continued. “And that’s when I met (Mineta).”

Teamed-Up



One of Simpson’s fondest memories of that time was when he and Mineta got back at a bully who had been terrorizing some of the other Scouts.

“It was raining out there,” he recalled, “and we dug a little trench which led right into his tent. And as the rain came, we were able to direct the scourge right into his tent. Norm said that I ‘cackled.’ And I said, ‘I didn’t cackle, I laughed!’ And he said, ‘No, no, you cackled.’”

Despite the obstacles faced by his family during World War II, Mineta found his place in politics in his native San Jose, California. When he was elected Mayor in 1971, Simpson said he reached out to his childhood friend.

“I saw that he was elected mayor of San Jose, so I wrote him a note,” he said. “I said, ‘You remember the fat kid from the scout troop in Cody? I just want to congratulate you on being anointed Mayor of San Jose.’ And he wrote me back and said, ‘Oh, I remember.’ And then we went on from there.” 

Back Together

Mineta was elected to represent California in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974 and shortly after, the two men were reunited in Washington, D.C.

“When I got elected (to the Senate in 1978), he called me and he said, ‘Boy, this is great. We’ll both be in Congress together,’” he said. “I said, ‘Well, we will. It’ll be great for the country, and for us.’ And so the minute we got to Washington we looked each other up.” 

Both men had successful careers in national politics. Simpson served for 18 years as a senator from Wyoming and as the Senate Minority Whip from 1985-95. Mineta was named Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton, then Secretary of Transportation under President George W. Bush. He was the first person of East Asian descent to serve as a U.S. Cabinet secretary.

Reparations Bill

Simpson recalled with pride the successful effort by both men to make reparations for the wrongs done to Mineta’s family and the other families who were incarcerated during the war.

“We worked together on a reparations bill, which George Herbert Walker (Bush) signed,” he said, referring to the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which granted 82,219 surviving internees $20,000 in compensation. 

The legislation stated that government actions had been based on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership” rather than legitimate security reasons. 

“There were 110,000 of them who lost their rights as citizens,” Simpson said. “(Mineta) passed it in the House, and I took it over in the Senate. And I got a lot of flack – they said, ‘Well, who’s next? The Indians? The blacks?’ 

“And so I just said, ‘Well, you know, I was there and you weren’t. And I saw the barbed wire and the guard towers and the guys at the top with guns and searchlights all aimed inside – and so I don’t really need any crap out of you,’” he added.

The lifelong friendship of Norm Mineta and Al Simpson has been memorialized at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, which stands on the grounds of the camp that imprisoned Mineta’s family 80 years ago. 

The Mineta-Simpson Institute, which was unveiled in December of 2020, is meant to be “a dedicated retreat space at the center, a home for workshops and programming specifically designed to foster empathy, courage, and cooperation in the next generation of leaders,” according to the Center’s webpage.

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

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By Alan Simpson, WyoFile Letter to the Editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Alan K. Simpson

Precinct Committeeman, District 25-1

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

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

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

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Powell Tribune

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Simpson Mourns Loss Of Mike Enzi

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson takes credit for starting the late Mike Enzi’s political career.

“He was one of my early people in Campbell County,” Simpson told Cowboy State Daily. “And then I was at a Jaycee’s convention here at the Cody auditorium in the early 1970s, and I was to speak. They (Enzi and his wife Diana) were at a table with us. He got up and he spoke, then he came back to the table. 

“And I leaned over and told him, ‘There are people who are really ready to do something for their community, for their county and for the state. And you look like one of those.’ And I just put it on him,” he continued.

But the funniest incident came later that evening, Simpson recalled.

“Diana said, ‘What did Al talk to you about?’ and Mike said, ‘He told me I should run for Mayor.’ And she nearly wrecked the car.”

With the sudden death of his friend and colleague after a bicycle accident this week, Simpson said the state lost an inspirational leader — and tragically, Enzi’s life ended just as his long-awaited retirement was getting started.

“You’d call him, and his answering machine would pick up and say, ‘Retired Mike Enzi!’ Yes, Retired Mike Enzi,’” Simpson said, laughing. “He was full of life and humor.”

Simpson pointed out that Enzi was one of the few politicians in Congress who wasn’t afraid to cross party lines to get things done.

“You don’t get anything done by just saying, ‘Look at me, I’m a big Democrat, and I don’t care about Republicans,’ or ‘I’m a big Republican, I don’t care about Democrats,’” Simpson said. “If those are the people that are going to get in to Congress, then you may as well send zombies. They don’t work with anybody, and that’s what’s killing the country – and he never bought into that.”

The loss that Simpson said he is experiencing is hard to put into words, but he said there is a sentiment that fits the situation

.“There is an old Indian phrase in Shoshone,” Simpson noted. “It’s ‘Our hearts are on the ground.’ And they are.”

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

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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Al Simpson ‘Doing Well’ After Minor Stroke

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Brokaw praises patriotism, grit of Heart Mountain internees

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The more than 14,000 people held at the Heart Mountain Internment Camp near Cody showed an amazing ability to support their country despite the fact it imprisoned them, newscaster Tom Brokaw said at the camp last weekend.

Brokaw, the featured guest at the annual Heart Mountain Pilgrimage, praised those incarcerated for their patriotism while held at the camp.

“You were abused and went on with your lives and make continuing contributions to this country,” he said. “You’re here because you know you’re Americans and we all learn from you. And so I say God bless.”

The Heart Mountain camp was one of 10 established across the country to house Americans of Japanese descent during World War II because of concerns they might hold allegiance to their original homeland and pose a threat to the United States.

While in operation from June 1942 to November of 1945, the camp was the third largest city in the state. During the camp’s operation, many friendships were formed, including one between former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson and Norm Mineta, former secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation.Appearing with Simpson during the pilgrimage, Mineta recalled the sadness he felt when his government imprisoned an entire race of people.

“These placards went up,” he said. “Instructions to all those of Japanese ancestry. Aliens and non-aliens. And I was a 10-yar-old kid and I saw that placard. And I said to my brother who was nine years older, I said ‘Al, what’s a non-alien?’ He said ‘That’s you.’ And I said ‘I’m not a non-alien, I’m a citizen!”

For the past eight years, the Heart Mountain Foundation has organized the pilgrimage to the camp as a commemoration to those held there.

Shirley Ann Higuchi, the foundation’s chair, said Wyoming communities have been very supportive of the foundation’s efforts to preserve the memory of the injustice done to the families held at the camp.

“They have come around to really support us and really make us the best that we can be,” she said. “So it’s just an overwhelmingly emotional, touching, in many ways a heartbreaking experience when we try to think back historically on how many people had actually suffered here.”

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