Tag archive

Ogden Driskill

State Senators Get Heated Following Contentious Debate On Gun Bill

in News/Legislature
17303

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

*Editor’s note: The story has since been updated. Sen. Driskill has apologized for the incident with Sen. James.

By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

Two lawmakers were involved Tuesday evening in what some are describing as an altercation involving pushing on the Senate floor following a heated debate regarding a gun bill.  

State Sen. Tom James, R-Green River, on Wednesday confirmed to Cowboy State Daily that he and Majority Floor Leader Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, were involved in an incident on the floor after debate on Senate Floor 102, the “Second Amendment Protection Act.”  

However, James said he would not comment further until he obtained video footage of the incident, which was recorded but not streamed live to the public on YouTube. Video streams from both the House and Senate generally stop when official work in the chambers is completed at noon or evening recess.

The lawmaking session had just ended for the day when the altercation was reported to have occurred.  

In a text message to Cowboy State Daily, Driskill disputed that there was an “altercation” and said he would return a phone call for comment after a break from Senate floor action Wednesday.

Floor Fireworks

The Wyoming Senate had just approved, on its first reading, a gun rights bill sponsored by Senate Vice President Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, that Hicks called “constitutionally sound.” The bill would prohibit Wyoming government agencies from using state resources to enforce federal gun restrictions that are seen as an improper infringement on Second Amendment rights.

State Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, spoke against the bill, calling it a mere re-working of the Wyoming Firearms Freedom Act, which forbids gun commerce enforcement against individuals with Wyoming-made, Wyoming-marketed firearms.  

Bouchard said he was denied the chance to testify on the bill when it was discussed by a Senate committee.

“I wanted to speak in committee and that got shut down pretty quick,” said Bouchard during the discussion.  

But other senators, including Driskill, objected to Bouchard’s statement.

“You need to stick to the facts,” countered Driskill.  

“That is the facts,” said Bouchard. “The facts are, I was not allowed to speak in committee.”  

At that point, James stood to speak.

“On that point of order,” he said, “our language in here is actually protected under Article 3, Section 16 (of the Wyoming Constitution), so technically he wasn’t out of order.”  

The portion of the Wyoming Constitution referenced by James states that legislators are not to be arrested during the lawmaking session or on the way to or from it, except in cases of “treason, felony, violation of their oath of office and breach of the peace.”  

Earlier That Day… 

There had been detectable tension between Driskill and James earlier that morning in the Senate Corporations, Elections, and Political Subdivisions Committee. James visited the committee as a guest presenter promoting his bill, Senate File 50, which would establish a hotline for public reporting of government fraud, waste, or abuse.  

The bill also would protect whistleblowers from workplace ramifications for any reporting of government misconduct.  

Driskill, who chairs the committee, pressured James multiple times to assign a dollar amount to the proposed law.  

“What do you think this bill should cost and where is that at?” asked Driskill.  

“It shouldn’t cost any more than a phone line and setting up an email,” answered James.  

“The suicide hotline is ($1.5 million),” said Driskill.  

James said that unlike the suicide hotline, his proposed system would not require constant monitoring. 

“Give me a number so I can get an amendment, and we can talk about your bill,” said Driskill.  

James said, “$10,000, maybe, at most.” 

“That solves it,” answered Driskill.  

But action on the bill was postponed until Thursday, because both the House and Senate floor sessions were about to start.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Sen. Bouchard Calls Senate Colleagues “Slime Ball” and “Liar”; Says They Should Resign

in News/politics
14853

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, took to name-calling his fellow senators on Friday, labeling one a “slime ball” and the other a “swamp monster.”

Bouchard, who is also running for U.S. House, said Senate Majority Floor Leader Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, was a “flat-out liar.”

Although he didn’t specify what Driskill was allegedly lying about, he posted a graphic of the vote count for a defeated Senate bill (SF-1012) which would have allowed doctors to prescribe any medicine for the treatment of Covid-19 and pharmacists the ability to fill such prescriptions without penalty.

The vote count showed Driskill voted against the bill.

Bouchard said he and Driskill had discussed hydroxychloroquine (a controversial alleged COVID treatment in which Bouchard is a proponent) and that Driskill said doctors in his area would not prescribe the medication for his wife who was ill with the virus.

Bouchard claimed he referred Driskill to a doctor who would treat his wife with the drug.

“She got what most people could NOT get. They got their prescription outside of WY,” Bouchard wrote on Facebook Friday. ” Oggie is playing games with legislation that would advance Covid Early Treatment practices, he needs to Resign!”

He also claimed that Driskill was taking Ivermectin (another controversial COVID drug that also doubles as a horse medication) during the special session and that Driskill got the OK to do so from Sen. Eric Barlow, R-Gillette.

“Real Leaders don’t play games with life matters. But Swamp Monsters do,” Bouchard wrote.

Mudslinging

Driskill told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that Bouchard was twisting the facts in order to drag his “reputation through the mud.”

Driskill explained that around December 2020, his wife was ill with COVID and she was not getting better. During a committee meeting, he mentioned that she was sick.

He said that Bouchard came to him and recommended a Cheyenne doctor who would prescribe “Trump’s cure.”

“The doctor did a tele-health meeting with my wife, which I was not a part of, where he prescribed her medication, which I then picked up at a Walgreens in Spearfish, South Dakota,” Driskill said.

Until Friday, when his wife spoke with Cowboy State Daily and confirmed the medication she received from the doctor (which included hydroxychloroquine), Driskill did not know what medicine she had taken to recover from COVID.

Driskill also noted that he spoke with the Wyoming Board of Health, which told him that doctors in Wyoming could prescribe any medication, on or off-label, that they saw fit and that no doctors have been censured or had privileges revoked in the last decade.

Did Take Ivermectin

Driskill did also confirm that he took one dose of Ivermectin before the special session began and one during the session, but that he didn’t ask Barlow for permission to take it.

“He’s a veterinarian, so I asked him what the side effects would be for a human taking this kind of medicine,” he said. “He works with this kind of stuff all day, so I wanted to know if it would make me go blind or make my liver sick if I took it. But, I went to a number of people about it, not just Dr. Barlow.”

Driskill also noted that while he took two doses of Ivermectin, that was his personal choice and he would not recommend anyone else do so. He is also vaccinated against COVID, he confirmed.

“I’ve got my own faults and there are many, but to have lies and slander that affect your reputation and the way people look at you differently, people will start to think there is something there,” he said.

“This is clearly an attempt to either not get me to run again or damage my reputation enough that I get beaten in the election. It doesn’t have anything to do with vaccines or anything else.”

“Slime Ball”

After Driskill, Bouchard set his sights on Senate Vice President Larry Hicks, R-Baggs.

Although he didn’t provide any examples or explain his accusation, Bouchard accused Hicks of using Senate PAC money to “quiet” him during his primary election.

“It’s not just his actions during the kabuki theater special session. Senate Vice President Larry Hicks tried to use Senate PAC money to quiet me in August of 2020,” Bouchard wrote.

“He couldn’t get off the phone fast enough when I told him I was taking no PAC money for my 2020 race. Larry is a slime ball. He needs to resign! Drain Wyoming’s Swamp!”

Hicks did not immediately respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Friday.

Drain The Swamp

April Poley, Bouchard’s congressional campaign spokeswoman, said the senator was just “calling out the swamp” in Wyoming.

“He calls out the swamp. He always has. He always will. The swamp isn’t just in DC. Wyoming has its own swamp in Cheyenne,” she told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.

“Staying silent on swamp activity would be equivalent to participating in it. Legislators are expected to turn a blind eye to the hypocrisy of legislative leadership and their committee assignments and progression of any bills they sponsor, depends on that silence.”

She also called Driskill a hypocrite.

“Driskell voted against Bouchard’s bill regarding COVID treatments yet when his wife was on the verge of being hospitalized last year, he was more than happy to take the help of drugs most WY voters so not have access to. Hypocrite,” she said.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Driskill: 90% Chance of Special Session To Combat Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

in News/Coronavirus
13345

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming Senate Majority Floor Leader Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, said there is a 90% likelihood that the Legislature will hold a special session to address President Joe Biden’s sweeping national vaccine mandate.

Driskill told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that he envisioned a two- to three-day session where legislators would focus on strategies to fight the president’s mandate which would, in effect, force thousands of Wyoming workers to receive a COVID vaccine or be fired.

“The Legislature has listened closely to the people of Wyoming,” Driskill said.  “We agree with the people that this is egregious overreach by the Biden administration.  It is worthy of whatever the expense is to fight for Wyoming citizens’ rights.”

Driskill said he was with Gov. Mark Gordon when word of the mandate first surfaced last week and it was like a “shot in the gut” when he heard it.

“It was crushing,” he said. “It is massive overreach for the feds to dictate to private business what their employees have to do.”

Biden last week announced that federal employees, health care workers and employees of companies with more than 100 workers would be required to either get the vaccine or be tested for coronavirus weekly. The rules would be enforced by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, which could levy fines against companies that fail to comply with the order.

Driskill said legislative leadership began talking immediately about ways to address the mandate.

“Obviously we are going to sue,” Driskill said. “There is no doubt the governor’s going to join in and sue. But suing takes time and we are working up against hard deadlines here.”

Driskill and Senate President Dan Dockstader (R-Afton) said all legal and legislative options must be pursued.

“The president’s mandates touched a nerve of opposition across this state,” Dockstader said. “It’s important the Legislature respond to that concern and thoroughly be prepared with methodically prepared legislation.”

Creative Strategies

Driskill said this is where the Legislature could get creative.

Because state law cannot supersede federal law, Driskill said, more outside-the-box strategies could be employed.

One example would be to follow Colorado’s lead and just ignore the feds, he said.

“Colorado ignored federal laws with pot,” he said alluding to Colorado’s decision to legalize marijuana despite federal laws.  “We can obviously take a look at that and say we are not going to do it.”

Another interesting strategy, Driskill said, was to use federal COVID funds to pay for federal fines imposed on businesses that don’t follow the mandate.

“It’s obviously COVID-related,” he said.  “We can use those funds to pay the fines for business.”

Driskill said the state could order state OSHA employees to “stand down” and enforce only the rules the state wants enforced.

The state could help employees who are fired for not following the mandate, he said, by paying for unemployment benefits and assisting with finding other jobs.

Because the federal mandate does allow employees to take weekly COVID tests instead of a vaccination, Driskill said the state could reimburse businesses or employees for the costs of rapid tests.

Driskill also said the state could help to “widen the window” for exemptions to the federal law.

“There’s always been a history that you can’t be challenged if you are using a religious exemption,” he said.  “You can’t challenge it.”

“We need to make sure the feds aren’t onerous in denying those exemptions,” he said.

If The Vaccine Works

Driskill said he’s not opposed to vaccinations.  He’s vaccinated himself.

He thinks vaccinated people shouldn’t be threatened by the unvaccinated “if the vaccine works.”

“I get that you can get the shot and get COVID,” he said. “But overwhelmingly, it’s pretty minor and you aren’t likely to die from it.”  

“So we shouldn’t force things on people when if you’ve got a vaccination, you really shouldn’t be threatened,” he said.

As for the session itself, Driskill said it would likely be conducted via video conferencing instead of in-person as the cost savings would be significant.

The governor’s office did not tip its hand on whether or when the governor might call a session although some have speculated he would make an announcement this week.

His spokesman, Michael Pearlman, said the governor has been “in initial discussions with legislative leadership regarding the potential for a special session.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Bouchard Claims Driskill Trying to Remove Him From Committee Assignments

in News/politics
11020

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

After making international news late last week by announcing he impregnated a 14-year-old girl when he was 18, embattled congressional candidate Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, continues to lash out at a colleague who has been critical of him.

Bouchard is now claiming that Senate Majority Leader Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, wants him removed from committee assignments in the Wyoming Senate as a result of the revelation.

“The RINO establishment led by Sen. Ogden Driskill wants to strip me of committees,” Bouchard wrote on Facebook. “Just like Pelosi did to #MTG (referring to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia). BRING IT!!”

If there is such a plan, that’s news to Driskill, who said he was surprised by the charge.

“This is just another series of lies and misinformation from Anthony Bouchard,” Driskill told Cowboy State Daily.

“I know of no movement, no discussions, or any conversations about stripping Sen. Bouchard from his committees,” Driskill said. “I have not been contacted by anyone about this.”

Driskill said Bouchard should file an official complaint with the president of the state Senate and ask for a formal investigation if he believes there is any impropriety.

“I openly challenge him to pursue it,” Driskill said. “Unlike Bouchard, I’m transparent.”

The argument spilled over onto Bouchard’s Facebook page where Driskill called the senator a “liar” after addressing him as “Romeo” — a nickname popular political columnist Rod Miller coined last week.

“PURE LIE!!!! There has been no discussion with leadership – or other Senators about ANYTHING to do with Anthony Bouchard. Another pure fabrication and lie from Romeo,” Driskill wrote.

“Oops, the media put it on the record. Sorry Oggie. Will this be another comment that you pull down, like you did yesterday?” Bouchard asked without specifying a media outlet or what was put on the record.

“You are a liar— I have had no conservation with leadership or otherwise concerning you,” Driskill said.

State Senate President Dan Dockstader told the Casper Star-Tribune that he was “looking into” whether there would be any legislative repercussions stemming from Bouchard’s revelation.

Bouchard currently sits on four committees: the Management Audit Committee, the Senate Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee, the Senate Labor, health and Social Services Committee and the Select Committee on Legislative Facilities, Technology and Processes.

Bouchard has been a member of the Wyoming Senate since 2017.

Bouchard and Driskill have been engaged in a battle of words since late last week, when Driskill was interviewed by U.K. media outlet The Daily Mail in London about Bouchard’s announcement.

“The lack of transparency he has shown is terrible,” Driskill told the outlet. “I’m not sure he should be running for Congress.”

In his 14-minute Facebook video response, Bouchard called Driskill “scum” and attacked him for talking with the Daily Mail about something that happened nearly 40 years ago.

“Ogden Driskill could have stayed out of this fight,” he said.

Driskill told Cowboy State Daily that he spoke publicly about the senator because Bouchard’s revelation was so egregious.

Driskill called Bouchard a “predator” and said there was a “huge difference” between a high school student dating a younger peer and a high school dropout who had a job and was “hanging out with 13 and 14-year-olds”.

Bouchard categorized the romance as a “Romeo and Juliet” story. The analogy was quickly condemned by the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

“Laws exist to protect young people involved in these situations,” executive director Kristen Schwartz told The Associated Press. “There’s a reason we have laws against sexual abuse of a minor and it’s because the brain of a 14-year-old is not developed enough to make mature decisions about sex and sexuality.”“

“Any language that would minimize things that are a crime is harmful. It’s harmful to survivors and it’s harmful to our greater community,” she added.

At the time, the two were able to marry because Florida law allowed marriage at any age if a pregnancy was involved and a parent consented. They were divorced about three years later, and the woman ultimately committed suicide in 1990.

Bouchard’s son, Tony Raymond Bouchard, is currently jailed at the Bob Wiley Detention Facility in Visalia, California, on multiple charges, including sodomy by use of force, sexual penetration by foreign object and false imprisonment by violence. He has been incarcerated since 2018, but hasn’t been officially convicted of the aforementioned charges.

Bouchard announced his run for Congress in January, not long after U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for the role he allegedly played in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Kraken: World’s First Digital Bank To Open in Wyoming

in News/Business
6360

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The world’s first bank dedicated to handling digital assets will open in Wyoming with state approval of an application to open a “Special Purpose Depository Institution.”

Kraken, a company that specializes in the purchase, sale and trade of digital currencies such as Bitcoin, won unanimous approval from the Wyoming State Banking Board on Wednesday to open a bank for the holding and trading of digital currencies.

The SPDI, to tentatively be called Kraken Financial, is the first of its kind to win bank charter recognition from both state and federal regulators, the company said in a news release.

The bank will be headquartered in Cheyenne and will provide comprehensive services for holders of digital assets, the company said, such as accepting deposits and allowing its customers to use their digital assets to pay bills, trade for other currencies or make investments.

Kraken described the bank as a bridge between “cryptocurrencies” and traditional economic systems.

In announcing the Banking Board’s approval, David Kinitsky, Kraken Financial’s CEO, praised Wyoming’s Legislature for making the changes to state banking laws needed to allow the handling of digital assets.

“We’re thrilled to work in a state so aligned with our philosophy and values,” he said. “Wyoming is a rare and shining example of how thoughtful regulation can drive innovation for (financial technology) companies.”

The company also said that Wyoming is the only place where such a bank could open and be successful.

“Though many regulators talk about fostering innovation, Wyoming is the only state to actually build out this vision in a concrete, commercially viable way,” its news release said.

The news was welcomed by legislators who worked to adjust Wyoming’s banking laws to allow such operations.

“Big news Wyoming!” Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, one of the legislators to work on the law, wrote on his Facebook page. “We just made history this morning. While I know this may seem a little geeky, it is huge news that Wyoming can and has expanded its economy and can now officially be considered a tech State.”

“And we’re off…. Wyoming people asked for economic diversity and THEY HAVE IT,” another advocate of the banking bill, Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, wrote on his Facebook page. “The first of many tech jobs and dollars for the state.”

Caitlin Long, a Wyoming native recognized as an expert in cryptocurrency and “blockchain banking,” also expressed excitement over the approval in a post on her Facebook page.

“As a (Kraken) shareholder, I’m thrilled, but even more thrilled for Wyoming,” she wrote. “True economic diversification and a big building block for attracting a new tech and financial services industry here.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Legislators Host Lunch For Disabled Vets at Devils Tower

in News/Sturgis
5632

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Crook County legislators Ogden Driskill and Tyler Lindholm on Friday hosted lunch for a group of 20-plus disabled veterans who were on their way to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

The bikers were riding from Utah to Sturgis and were affiliated with the Veterans Charity Ride (VCR) group — a nonprofit organization that provides programs specifically designed to assist wounded and amputee combat veterans.

“As a veteran myself, I’m a big supporter of fellow veterans,” Lindholm said. “It is always good to lend a helping hand to some fellow and brothers in arms.”

Lindholm, R-Sundance, said the group had lunch at the KOA Campground and then toured the Devils Tower monument.

“They were in great spirits. It was a great honor for me to spend time with them,” he said.

Driskill, R-Devils Tower, who owns the KOA Campground, said he and Lindholm volunteered to sponsor the lunch when he heard the veterans were going to be riding through.

“We love vets and combat-wounded vets are in a special category of their own,” Driskill said.  “Our country is here because of them.”

The senator said the lunchtime discussion was focused on their bikes, the travels they made so far, and the upcoming celebration at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

“It sure makes you feel good to do something for these people,” he said. “They were excited to be here in Wyoming and they looked forward get to being in Sturgis for a full week.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Legislators: Wyoming Tops in the Nation For Re-Opening Business

in News/Coronavirus
4292

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

In contrast to a group of Republican legislators who criticized Gov. Mark Gordon’s reactions to the coronavirus pandemic, two lawmakers from northeastern Wyoming said Wyoming is further ahead in opening businesses than any other state in the nation.

Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower and Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance took to YouTube on Thursday to discuss the governor’s most-recent health orders and why they put Wyoming ahead of the pack nationally.

“As it stands tomorrow, the State of Wyoming will be farther ahead than any state in the nation in regards to relaxing [public health] orders,” Lindholm said. “Farther than any state and that includes South Dakota. South Dakota is going to be behind us.”

South Dakota has been singled out by the national media as the state that has most strenuously resisted statewide “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” orders. However, there is little — if any — difference between the policies of South Dakota and those of Wyoming.

Wyoming officials closed only schools, businesses likely to draw more than 10 people and businesses providing personal services, such as hair salons and tattoo parlors. Its leaders never ordered a closure of “non-essential” businesses or ordered people to remain in their homes.

On Tuesday, Gordon and Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s health officer, announced that gyms and businesses providing personal services will be allowed to open Friday.

Seven Republican members of the Legislature, in an open letter to Gordon, asked why it made sense to let some businesses open, but leave restrictions in place for others and continue to limit gatherings to 10 people or fewer.

Driskill and Lindholm, dubbed the “crypto cowboys” because of their work in technology, said people apparently do not understand that businesses can apply for for an exemption to the restrictions that are still in place.

Driskill said because the governor “kicked it down to the county level”, businesses have the freedom to apply for exemptions.

“That’s the exciting news, “Lindholm said. “You own a restaurant or a bar, you can put in an exemption with your county health officer right now,”

He said as long as businesses show how they will keep the restaurant clean, have a plan in place for social distancing and agree to screen patrons, they can work with their county public health officer to get an exemption.

The state has said that county health officers can ask for an exemption to the state health orders to allow specific businesses to open or for a county-wide variance from the orders to allow all of the businesses in a certain category to open.

Lindholm said the public health officer from Weston county is working with county commissioners and local officials to submit such a plan.

“This is great,” Lindholm said.  “This is Gov. Gordon recognizing that Crook County and Weston County damn sure don’t look like Teton and Laramie counties.” 

“This is a really good opportunity and I hope our counties take advantage of that,” Driskill said.  “We don’t have the cases up here.”

Both cautioned that in order for the rules to continue to be relaxed, Wyoming citizens need to follow public health guidelines like social distancing.

“The models keep getting destroyed because of the actions of the people of Wyoming,” Lindholm said.

“Wyoming has done a phenomenal job of flattening the curve,” Driskill said. “Assuming we continue to follow these practices, we won’t have new cases. If people ignore the protocols, we will go backwards on this.”

Lindholm did sound a note of caution, however, stating that warmer temperatures should bring more good news for the state but “then winter will come around.”

“By that time, I hope it is a cured situation,” he said.

Lindholm said most of the restaurant and bar owners he spoke to on Wednesday were “pretty pumped” to hear they could apply for an exemption, but not all.

“I did get my ass chewed a couple times,” he said. “I’d rather be just kicking open the doors. I think we can handle this ourselves without any type of restrictions but that’s not the reality that we’re living in.”

“These are just baby steps to get everything open,” Driskill said.  “You will see a lot of things will relax quickly.”

In typical Lindholm fashion, the lawmaker had some fun when concluding the first segment of the YouTube broadcast by reminding people that quarantine orders still exist for out-of-staters.

“If you are some yahoo from Colorado to come in to Wyoming, you still have to quarantine for 14 days and stay the hell away from everybody,” Lindholm said.  “Because we know that Colorado has the coronavirus.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Go to Top