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Joey Correnti

Carbon County GOP Chair Joey Correnti Pleads Guilty In Reckless Endangerment Case

in News/Crime
20025

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The chairman of the Carbon County Republican Party has pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless endangering after a judge denied his request to dismiss the charge, a Carbon County circuit court official told Cowboy State Daily on Monday.

Joey Correnti IV on Friday changed his plea after Circuit Judge Sustan Stipe denied his request to dismiss the charge stemming from an incident in October.

Stipe denied Correnti’s request because she said he had not proven that any person in the trajectory of the bullet he fired in October acted in such a way that would require him to employ deadly force against them.

Correnti represented himself in the case and initially argued that Wyoming’s “Stand Your Ground” law, allowing the use of force in self-defense, applied in this case.

Correnti did not immediately respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Monday.

Correnti is accused of pointing a 9-mm pistol at Nicholas Chadwick in October during an altercation in Saratoga and later firing a shot into the air. He was charged with reckless endangering, a misdemeanor.

The prosecution has argued that Correnti used excessive force in the encounter with Chadwick, while Correnti said he pointed his handgun at Chadwick only after Chadwick hit him in the head.

According to a police report from the incident, Correnti was helping a woman move into a home when Chadwick, the woman’s husband, arrived and confronted the woman, alleging she was in a relationship with Correnti.

The report said Chadwick tried three times to grab the woman’s phone, grabbing her wrist at one point.

Correnti inserted himself between the woman and Chadwick, the report said, and the two argued briefly before Chadwick hit Correnti near the right temple.

Correnti then brandished a pistol, the report said, pointing it at Chadwick and telling Chadwick not to hit him again or he would “put (Chadwick) down.”

After Correnti fired a shot into the air, Chadwick left the scene, the report said.

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Carbon County GOP Chair Reckless Endangerment Trial Continues; Correnti Pushes For Dismissal

in News/Crime
19246

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A judge is deciding whether to dismiss a criminal case involving the chairman of the Carbon County Republican Party and accusations that he recklessly endangered people by firing a gun into the air late last year.

According to Bigfoot 99, which attended the hearing, state District Judge Susan Stipe is considering whether to continue the proceedings against Joey Correnti IV, who was charged with a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangering earlier in December.

Stipe is expected to make a ruling this week, the radio station reported.

Correnti is accused of pointing a 9-mm pistol at Nicholas Chadwick in October during an altercation in Saratoga and later firing a shot into the air.

Correnti is representing himself in the case and has argued that Wyoming’s “Stand Your Ground” defense, which allows the use of force in cases of self-defense, applies in this situation.

The prosecution has argued that Correnti used excessive force in the encounter with Chadwick, while Correnti said he pointed his handgun at Chadwick only after Chadwick hit him in the head.

An audio recording of the altercation was played during the hearing and Bigfoot 99 host Cali O’Hare said the question remains of whether Correnti or Nicholas Chadwick was the initial aggressor in the incident.

Bigfoot 99 reported that in the audio recording, Chadwick asked the woman if she and Correnti had been intimate, but Correnti responded there was nothing in the house to “[expletive]” on.”

According to a police report from the incident, Correnti was helping a woman move into a home when Chadwick, the woman’s husband, arrived and confronted the woman, alleging she was in a relationship with Correnti.

The report said Chadwick tried three times to grab the woman’s phone, grabbing her wrist at one point.

Correnti inserted himself between the woman and Chadwick, the report said, and the two argued briefly before Chadwick hit Correnti near the right temple.

Correnti then brandished a pistol, the report said, pointing it at Chadwick and telling Chadwick not to hit him again or he would “put (Chadwick) down.”

After Correnti fired a shot into the air, Chadwick left the scene, the report said.

In other testimony offered during the hearing, witnesses said that Correnti was hired to DJ at the wedding of Chadwick and the woman in September 2020, but Correnti and the woman became romantically involved a year later.

“I was aware of who she was up until two months ago,” Correnti told the court during the hearing.

Bigfoot 99 reported Correnti received “admonishment” from Stipe for his attitude.

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Despite Failed Lawsuit, Plaintiffs Hope Legislature Will Change Nomination Process for Vacant Seats

in News/Legislature
16672

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A federal lawsuit filed over the way nominees are picked to fill vacant statewide offices may convince the Legislature to take action to change the existing process, according to a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

“My hope is that once the public is made aware of the nomination process … and they see who were nominated as a result of the procedure followed by the Wyoming GOP central committee, the Legislature will amend the statute to require that all such nominations be based on the principle of ‘one person, one vote’ …” Sheridan attorney Rex Arney told Cowboy State Daily.

“After all, Jillian Balow was elected on that basis and it should not be any different when selecting a person to replace her,” he said.

Arney’s comments came after a federal judge refused to grant a temporary restraining order that would have prevented Gov. Mark Gordon from appointing a new superintendent of public instruction.

“I respect the judge’s decision, even if I disagree with it,” Arney said.

Judge Scott Skavdahl on Thursday rejected a request to block Gordon from selecting a new superintendent from a list of three nominees given to him by the Wyoming Republican Party’s central committee.

Shortly after the judge’s decision, Gordon named Brian Schroeder the new superintendent to finish out the unexpired term of Balow, who resigned earlier this month to take a similar job in Virginia.

The request for a temporary restraining order was filed at the same time as a lawsuit filed by Arney and 15 others seeking to overturn the way the Republican Party selected the nominees whose names were submitted to Gordon.

Under state law, Gordon was required to select a person to fill out Balow’s term — which expires in January 2023 — from a list of three nominees provided by the Wyoming Republican Party.

The party’s central committee selected three nominees Saturday, but the selection was challenged by the lawsuit filed Tuesday claiming the process was unconstitutional. The group, which included several other former legislators, claimed that because every county got three votes in the selection process, counties with small populations had a disproportionately large influence over the outcome.

Wyoming Republican Party Chairman Frank Eathorne, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, did not respond to Cowboy State Daily requests for comment about Skavdahl’s decision.

But Joey Correnti IV, chairman of the Carbon County Republican Party, said if the former legislators involved in the lawsuit were truly worried about the process, they could have changed the law while they were in office.

He pointed specifically to Tom Lubnau, a former Wyoming House Speaker.

“This is clearly a legislative issue,” he said. “If there was a legitimate concern about how our replacement process is conducted, you’d think the former speaker .. would have had those concerns and addressed them when he had an opportunity.”

Correnti said he was not surprised by the judge’s ruling.

Correnti described the legal action as an assault by a minority group of Republicans against the mainstream of the party in Wyoming.

“My take is it’s another attempt by a splinter group of progressives, called the Frontier Republicans, to bankrupt the legitimate Republican Party,” he said.

Frontier Republicans, according to the group’s website, is a “grassroots organization dedicated to promoting civility, engagement, and conservative values in Wyoming politics.” The group is registered with the secretary of state’s office as a political action committee.

Gaily Symons, treasurer for Frontier Republicans, noted that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Republicans, Democrats and independents.

“This lawsuit has nothing to do with the Frontier Republicans,” said Symons, who is also a plaintiff in the action. “Basically, Frontier Republicans has become the boogie man for the state Republican structure.” 

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State GOP Wants Investigation Into Legitimacy of Rep. Dan Zwonitzer

in News/Legislature
16543

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By Ellen Fike and Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The leadership of Wyoming’s Republican Party is asking the secretary of state to determine whether a legislator has moved out of the district he was elected to represent.

The party’s central committee agreed Saturday to ask the secretary of state’s office to look into whether Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, has moved out of House District 43, the district he has represented since 2005.

The decision was made in response to a concern raised by Joey Correnti IV, chairman of the Carbon County Republican Party, who said he wanted to see if the central committee thought the issue merited further review.

“I have a concern; I don’t have an indictment,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “I don’t know that the secretary of state won’t forward it to the attorney general’s office, but I would assume that between those two offices, those are the appropriate departments to address it or at least look at it.”

Zwonitzer did not immediately return Cowboy State Daily’s calls or emails seeking comment.

Under Wyoming law, if a legislator moves out of the district he or she was represented to elect, the office is considered to be vacant.

During the central committee meeting, Correnti told committee members he was presented with information such as property deeds and tax records that indicated Zwonitzer may be living outside of HD 43. 

The issue came to his attention, Correnti said, through his involvement in the legislative effort to redraw House and Senate district boundaries to conform with the latest state census results.

He added he was concerned because some proposals reviewed by the Legislature’s Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee, which is co-chaired by Zwonitzer, had proposed reconfiguring HD 43 to include the neighborhood where he believes the documents indicate Zwonitzer may be living.

“Over the past two weeks, I’ve been provided with documentation that convinces me there’s a legitimate concern that Rep. Dan Zwonitzer … is now practicing as an illegitimate representative of his district, from outside of his district,” Correnti told committee members. “Every plan for redistricting I have seen from Dan Zwonitzer has expanded from his current district to include the residence he has potentially moved into.” 

Correnti told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that he was contacted by others who expressed concern over redistricting efforts.

“I’m not going to take credit for doing the legwork, but I reviewed some of the information, spoke to a couple of people in the party and reviewed our statutes,” he said. “I felt at a certain point members of the party needed to have (the information), see it, know about it and see if there was enough concern to raise the issue with the secretary of state.”

Correnti stressed he is not accusing Zwonitzer of any wrongdoing, but he does want the issue examined.

“Government is administered on behalf of ‘We the People,’” he said. “It’s incumbent on the people to do the legwork and stay on top of it to be sure the government is administered on our behalf.

“Maybe it’s something concerning, maybe it’s easily explained,” he said. “It’s not a condemnation.”

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Correnti Cites ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law Against Assault Charge

in News
16332

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The chairman of Carbon County’s Republican Party is defending himself from a charge of reckless endangering stemming from allegations he pointed a pistol at a man after the man hit him.

Joey Correnti IV is asking that the charge against him filed in Carbon County in connection with an October incident be dismissed because his actions after being hit by Nicholas Chadwick were in keeping with Wyoming’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

Correnti is serving as his own attorney in the action, he told Cowboy State Daily, because the law allowing the use of force in self-defense is clearly written.

“I know the old saying that anyone who would defend themselves in court would have a fool for a client, but because of the strength and clarity of the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, I think even a fool would have a legitimate shot at having this case dismissed,” he said.

The charges filed in December stem from allegations that during an altercation in Saratoga in October, Correnti aimed his 9-mm pistol at Chadwick after Chadwick hit Correnti in the head.

According to a police report from the incident, Correnti was helping a woman move into a home when Chadwick, the woman’s husband, arrived and confronted the woman, alleging she was in a relationship with Correnti.

The report said Chadwick tried three times to grab the woman’s phone, grabbing her wrist at one point.

Correnti inserted himself between the woman and Chadwick, the report said, and the two argued briefly before Chadwick hit Correnti near the right temple.

Correnti then brandished a pistol, the report said, pointing it at Chadwick and telling Chadwick not to hit him again or he would “put (Chadwick) down.”

After Correnti fired a shot into the air, Chadwick left the scene, the report said.

Chadwick pleaded not guilty in November to a charge of criminal battery, a misdemeanor, and his case is pending.

In December, Correnti was charged with reckless endangering, also a misdemeanor, and he pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Correnti asked that the charge against him be dismissed in part because state law describes the act of pointing a gun at another person as a crime, “unless reasonably necessary in defense of his person, property or abode or to prevent serious bodily injury to another or as provided” by the “Stand Your Ground” law.

The “Stand Your Ground” law allows the use of force in self defense when a reasonable person believes it is needed to prevent an injury, loss or imminent death. It also specifies that deadly force can be used when someone is “in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering” a home.

“It really is a no-brainer because in statute it says if you are accused of reckless endangering to look at this other ‘Stand Your Ground’ statute,’” he said. “The other reason is not only do I believe in the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, I believe this situation directly applies to the relief provided by this statute.”

In his motion to dismiss, Correnti also claims the fact he is both a victim and being prosecuted as a defendant in connection with once incident creates a conflict of interest for Carbon County’s attorney.

“Therefore, a successful prosecution of Nicholas Chadwick on the pending charge of battery would make the current charge of (reckless endangering) by (Correnti) a conflict, not only for (Carbon County’s attorney), but also to the state’s evidence in the aforementioned case,” the motion said.

Correnti said he is also representing himself in the case to prove a point: that regular people can represent themselves in court.

“I believe the judicial system … and the profession of lawyering have evolved to make it difficult for the average person to defend themselves,” he said. “Our Constitution says all the powers of government are inherent in the people. We need to exercise that power. It is important to show people you can. And you need to stand up for yourself without asking other people to solve your problems.”

The dispute marks the second time in two years Correnti has been involved in an assault.

In June 2020, he was hit by Michael Pearce, chairman of the Albany County Republican Party, during the Wyoming Republican Party’s convention in Gillette. Pearce was cited for assault and battery.

“I don’t believe I’ve ever been in trouble,” Correnti said. “But this is the first time anything has gone before a court because of the way I’ve conducted myself when I’ve been assaulted.”

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

in Wyoming Republican Party/News
13869

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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

in Wyoming Republican Party/News
13789

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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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