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Trump Blasts Cheney On July 4, Calls Her “Despicable Human Being”

in News/Liz Cheney

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Former President Trump is not in a happy place this Independence Day. At least when it comes to his top nemesis, Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney.

Trump, who is still banned from Twitter, lashed out at Cheney on his own social media platform, Truth Social, to display his angst after she said that the Jan. 6 committee investigating the Capitol riots could refer him to the Justice Department for prosecution.

“Warmongering and despicable human being Liz Cheney, who is hated by the great people of Wyoming (down 35!), keeps saying, over and over that HER Fake Unselect Committee may recommend CRIMINAL CHARGES against a President of the United States who got more votes than any sitting President in history,” Trump said.

The president was referring to Cheney’s comments on ABC’s “This Week,” where she said the president could still face prosecution over the riots on January 6.

“We may well, as a committee, have a view on that, and if you just think about it from the perspective of: what kind of man knows that a mob is armed and sends the mob to attack the Capitol and further incites that mob when his own vice president is under threat, when the Congress is under threat?” Cheney said.

”It’s very chilling, and I think certainly we will continue to present to the American people what we found,” she said.

When asked if Cheney thought a criminal referral was possible, she said, “Yes.”

ABC Host Jonathan Karl asked if the ramifications of the public seeing a former president being prosecuted was worth it.

“Are you worried about what that means for the country, to [see] a former president prosecuted? A former president who was a likely candidate; who may in fact be running for president against Biden?” Karl asked.

“I think it’s a much graver constitutional threat if a president can engage in these kinds of activities, and the majority of the president’s party looks away — or we as a country decide we’re not actually going to take our constitutional obligations seriously,” Cheney said. “I think that’s a much, a much more serious threat.”

Trump said Cheney should focus her efforts on other places.

“Why doesn’t she press charges instead against those that cheated on the Election, or those that didn’t properly protect the Capitol?” he said.

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Hageman Campaign Creates ‘Cheney For Virginia’ Website

in News/politics

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Congressional candidate Harriet Hageman has doubled down on her claims that her Republican primary opponent U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney is not a true Wyomingite by creating a spoof website called “Liz Cheney for Virginia.”

The website LizCheneyForVa.com portrays Cheney as a Virginia resident who is working for the priorities of that state.

Cheney spokesman Jeremy Adler did not immediately return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Monday.

In an ad posted on her YouTube channel, also titled “Cheney for Virginia,” Hageman continued to question Cheney’s commitment to representing Wyoming, a topic she has frequently addressed in her campaign.

“Liz Cheney clearly doesn’t know what being a representative means,” Hageman said. “She’s not representing us. She’s not representing Wyoming. She’s not representing our values. Let’s send her home … to Virginia.”

The spoof website invites visitors to get to know Cheney’s hometown in Fairfax County, Virginia and links to a tourism website all about the attractions in the area. It also claims she bases her family in northern Virginia.

Hageman campaign manager Carly Miller told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that even the “New York Times” noticed Cheney rarely visited Wyoming and was more comfortable with Washington D.C. elites near her “true home” in Virginia.

“It’s where she’s able to be with people, like Democrats and Mitt Romney, who agree with her on continuously attacking President Trump, enriching defense contractors, and catering to D.C. insiders,” Miller said. “The website is just a way to provide voters more information about who Liz Cheney is, where she’s from, and whose interests she’s representing, because Wyoming doesn’t factor into any of those things.”  

The website also claims Cheney is fighting for northern Virginia Democrats.

“Liz has spent her time in Congress fighting the fights Northern Virginian Democrats truly care about, like impeaching President Donald Trump and investigating the Trump Administration and its allies,” the website reads. “These are the issues that matter most to you, and Liz has been going toe-to-toe with any Republican who disagrees with her.”

The website also identifies Cheney as the “biggest advocate of endless wars” in Congress.

“Liz’s goal has always been to preserve conflict overseas and get the U.S. involved in never ending wars to ensure that her friends in defense consulting and weapons production can continue to get rich off the backbone of our troops,” the website reads.

It also features quotes from Democratic politicians, such as Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, praising Cheney for her willingness to stand up to her fellow Republicans following the impeachment of Trump and for her serving on the Jan. 6 committee investigating the events of the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

A donate button leads to the Hageman campaign website.

Cheney was removed from her position as House Conference chair last year after voting for the impeachment of Trump and she was censured by the Republican National Committee last month for serving on the congressional committee investigating the events surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Prior to her impeachment vote, Cheney voted with Trump more than 90% of the time.

Hageman is being endorsed by Trump in her effort to unseat Cheney.

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Wyoming Delegation Demands Biden Sanction Russia For Ukraine Invasion

in News/politics

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s congressional delegation is calling on President Joe Biden to issue strong sanctions against Russia for its Monday invasion of Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into two separatist regions of eastern Ukraine on Monday after previously recognizing their independence.

All three of Wyoming’s delegates, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney and Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis, demanded Biden sanction Putin and Russia for these actions. Biden was expected to address the issue during an appearance Tuesday afternoon.

“Russia has invaded Ukraine. The Biden Administration and our allies must impose full set of crippling sanctions now,” Cheney tweeted Monday night on her congressional Twitter account.

She followed up with a post on her personal account in which she criticized the decision to move U.S. Department of State employees from the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine to Poland, calling it a “disgraceful abandonment.”

“America cannot defend our own freedom and security if we betray our allies and commitments around the world,” she said. “Full and crippling sanctions must be implemented against Putin and Russia immediately.”

Cheney spokesman Jeremy Adler would not specify whether Cheney would support intervention in Ukraine by American troops, instead referring Cowboy State Daily to the congresswoman’s tweets.

Barrasso also took to Twitter on Tuesday, saying this was not the time for Biden to be weak or indecisive.

“Putin is illegally trying to take over parts of Eastern Ukraine and ordering Russian troops to roll in. Putin is a predator who wants to put together the old Soviet Union. If he’s not stopped, it won’t end with Ukraine,” Barrasso said. “President Biden must respond with crippling sanctions on Russia immediately. The world is watching – especially China. If Putin gets away with this, it will embolden China to move against Taiwan.”

Barrasso spokeswoman Laura Mengelkamp told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that Barrasso did not support putting U.S. troops on the ground in Russia, but has consistently called for the United States to help provide Ukrainians with first-class weapons and lethal military equipment they need to defend themselves against Russian aggression.

Also calling for a United States response on Twitter was Lummis.

“Our failure to impose consequences on Russia’s aggression is a key reason why Vladimir Putin felt emboldened to invade in the first place,” Lummis said. “President Biden should do now what he has failed to do before: help Europe isolate Russia. We should continue to provide military assistance, and must support our allies in the region as they present a united front against Russia.”

Lummis spokeswoman Abegail Cave did not immediately respond to Cowboy State Daily’s question about whether she supported intervention by U.S. troops.

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Casper Woman Preparing For Freedom Convoy To Go Through Wyoming

in News/Coronavirus

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By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

A Casper woman is urging Wyoming residents to donate homemade baked goods, breads and handmade cards in a show of support for a nationwide truck convoy expected to pass through the state later this month and again in early March.

Laura Redmond, a photographer and mother of five, is working to drum up support for “The People’s Convoy,” a group of people from across the country who plan to drive to Washington, D.C., to call for an end to the Emergency Powers Act that allowed the federal government to impose various mandates related to COVID-19.

The People’s Convoy is a self-described grassroots campaign involving truckers and people of all professions aimed at converging on Washington, D.C. to seek an end to coronavirus restrictions and mandates.

The routes and meeting time in Washington, D.C. are still being worked out, according to the posts on the convoy’s Facebook page, but at least two routes will take participants through Wyoming.

One of the group’s co-founders, Brian Brase, told Heather Childers on NewsMax Monday evening that his group will be setting off from the Barstow, California, area on Wednesday, Feb. 23 and head to Washington, D.C., on a route that will take travelers through southern Wyoming on Interstate 80.

A second group leaving from Spokane, Washington, on March 2 and following Interstate 90 is scheduled to stop at the Flying J truck stop in Gillette around 1 p.m. on March 3.

Redmond and her children plan to meet the drivers with care packages in hand. 

Until then, she’s in the process of mobilizing groups and individuals throughout the state on her “Freedom Convoy – Wyoming Group” Facebook page to organize the preparation and delivery of other care packages for the drivers.

For Redmond, the message is simple. She wants to show her thanks and support for truckers and other frontline workers and volunteers who “hold the line for our freedom” and support their right to choose whether they are vaccinated against coronavirus.

Redmond said she’s been watching developments in Canada, where truckers have formed blockades to stop travel on some highways in protest of the country’s requirement for truckers traveling between the U.S. and Canada to be vaccinated.

Redmond said she watched with tears in her eyes when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked martial law Tuesday in attempt to break up the protests. 

In the U.S., people haven’t experienced the severe COVID-19 lockdowns and mandates adopted in Canada for the last two years, she said, so they can’t know what it must feel like for those left isolated by the restrictions to come together as a group after all these months. 

Some drivers are embracing their countrymen for the first time in months, while some are still living with mask and vaccine mandates, including a requirement for vaccine passports for truckers crossing into the U.S., the mandate which first prompted the convoy.

Redmond said she appreciates the show of unity and support for the convoy among Canadians and wants to mirror that unity in the U.S. by supporting the truckers as they pass through the state. 

“I want to spread a message of peace and love,” she said. 

Redmond is tired of the divisiveness in the country, she added, and wants to step up to do something about it with this simple message of support and solidarity for truckers, including her husband, a FedEx driver who will not be participating in the convoy. 

Truckers, she said, don’t receive the level of respect they deserve. 

“They (truckers) are considered the scum of the food chain, and they should be at the top,” she said. “We just want to show that we care and love them and appreciate everything they’ve done like keeping food on the shelves and delivering packages to our door. Everything you buy in this state came from a trucker.”

Giving out care packages of homemade baked goods and handmade cards felt like a more personal show of support than handing out money, gift cards or hanging signs along the interstates, she said. 

The truckers, as she knows firsthand, don’t have easy access to homemade goods while out on the road, so she thought it would be appreciated.

“It’s not a protest. It’s coming together to show our support for one another and do we can to help,” she said.

This is a message she said she’s instilled in children, joking that they tell her they’ve inherited her “give” bone. 

Redmond is active in volunteering for a number of causes, she said, and her children have taken note. Her boys, for example, automatically know to shovel snow for their elderly neighbors without accepting any money for their efforts. They are already making out cards for the truckers.

Her message mirrored that delivered by Brase, who welcomed all citizens to join the convoy.

“It’s called the People’s Convoy for a reason,” Brase said. “It’s not just truckers. We’re just the ones standing up, but we want everybody involved. This is not an aisle issue. This isn’t right. This isn’t a left-wing thing. And no matter how much they try to paint it that way. I think it’ll be pretty clear just walking around our convoy that you will see all walks of life are involved in this and all Americans are welcome.”

The Wyoming Trucking Association, meanwhile, is remaining neutral about the convoy. 

Sheila Foertsch, managing director of the Wyoming Trucking Association, said the association does not have an opinion on the convoy one way or the other, because it doesn’t directly impact Wyoming truckers.

“Everyone has a right to do what they want to do,” she said. “There’s really no reason to be protesting in the U.S. because we took it (vaccine mandates for businesses with more than 100 employees) to the Supreme Court and won.”

Any groups or individuals wishing to participate in Redmond’s efforts by baking or delivering goods to drivers are asked to reach out to her on her Facebook page. 

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Wyoming Republican Party ‘Sets Record Straight’ On Cheney Censure

in News/Liz Cheney/politics

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Republican National Committee’s decision to censure U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney last week represented the level of national dissatisfaction with her, according to a statement from the Wyoming Republican Party.

Wyoming GOP officials said they wanted to set the record straight regarding the censure, and even pointed to “misinformation” being spread by news outlets including The Washington Post and WyoFile.

“Dissatisfaction with Rep. Cheney is well known and widely felt in Wyoming,” the party’s statement said. “What’s less understood is this same dissatisfaction is a nationwide response. We’re repeatedly told in messages from Republicans around the nation that Cheney’s influential positions in powerful committees and commissions and her relentless pull away from everything Trump, including long-standing Republican values and policies, is affecting all Republicans.”

Last week, Republican National Committee members overwhelmingly voted to censure both Cheney and U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger for their work on the committee investigating the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The Wyoming GOP officials argued that the RNC was driven by what it saw as Cheney being “intent on advancing a political agenda to buoy the Democrat Party’s bleak prospects in the upcoming midterm elections.”

They also claimed that Cheney has been fashioning herself as the leader of a new Republican Party for years, pointing to a “Today Show” interview she gave in May 2021 where she said she wanted to be a leader in the fight to restore the party.

“That ‘dangerous effort’ she refers to is the push back by Republicans, like those in Wyoming and the RNC, who recognize that the foundation and basis of their party’s very being is the maintenance of our representative constitutional republic. We are NOT a democracy,” the Wyoming GOP officials said.

During the meeting in Utah last week that saw the RNC adopt the censure, the committee also passed a resolution recognizing congressional candidate Harriet Hageman as the party’s presumptive nominee for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat.

Several media outlets suggested the resolution could allow the RNC to donate money to Hageman’s primary campaign, a violation of Wyoming election law barring donations from political parties in a primary race.

But the Wyoming Republican Party’s officials said neither they nor the RNC had any intention of donating to anyone’s campaign during the primary.

“Wyoming’s RNC members, and our state central committee members fully understand that the Wyoming Republican Party cannot expend funds on a candidate prior to the primary,” the statement said. “(Wyoming law) prohibiting those contributions has not been violated.”

Wyoming GOP Executive Director Kathy Russell did not immediately respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Thursday.

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Wyoming GOP Celebrates Judge Ruling In Its Favor In Superintendent Lawsuit

in News/politics

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Republican Party celebrated the news that a judge ruled in its favor in a lawsuit regarding the process it used to select nominees for the office of superintendent of public instruction.

A federal judge on Thursday denied a request for a temporary restraining order that would have blocked Gov. Mark Gordon from appointing a new superintendent from a list of three nominees filed by the Wyoming Republican Party’s central committee. The request was filed on the same day as a lawsuit alleging the GOP’s system for selecting nominees was unconstitutional.

Eathorne is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, which remains active despite the judge’s ruling on the restraining order, and he has maintained he is being sued for following the law.

“The Wyoming GOP wants to thank Chairman Frank Eathorne for his steadfast leadership in the face of Democrat-inspired attacks on him, the party, and Wyoming Republicans,” the party said on Friday. “Chairman Eathorne was savagely criticized for merely following the advice of not one, but two, different party lawyers, who rejected the Plaintiff’s unfounded requests to change the way voting has been performed for decades.”

The party praised Eathorne’s work as in the party as a precinct committeeman, a county central committee leader, a state central committee member and now as chairman of the entire party in the state.

“No one has more experience and understanding of the party process, or works harder for Wyoming Republicans than Chairman Eathorne, and no one is better equipped to stand up to the Democrats and liberals when these liberal attacks come,” the party said.

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. Balow’s term expires in January 2023.

Schroeder, Thomas Kelly and Marti Halverson were the three nominees chosen from a pool of about a dozen applicants.

“The Court has swiftly and decisively confirmed the propriety of Chairman Eathorne’s decision and the accuracy and effectiveness of the legal advice he received,” the party said. “Chairman Eathorne is to be commended for standing up to these political attacks and abuses of the legal system by those who seek to advance their liberal agenda by engaging in the politics of personal destruction,” the party said.

The Wyoming GOP was defended in the case by Tyler Green and Jeff Hetzel of the Washington, D.C. law firm of Consovoy McCarthy and Cheyenne lawyer Brian Shuck, with assistance from numerous other lawyers and dedicated Republicans.

“The Wyoming Republican Party assures Wyoming Republicans that we will never stop fighting for you and we’ll continue fighting these liberal attacks of lawfare,” the party said.

These are similar sentiments delivered by Eathorne earlier this week, following the lawsuit’s filing.

“Grassroots Republicans are being sued, by Democrats and a handful of self-important RINOs and (U.S. Rep. Liz) Cheney supporters, for following the law and completing its role in sending 3 names to the Governor so he can fill the vacancy created when Jillian Balow resigned, the same way elected official vacancies have been filled for decades in our state,” Eathorne said.  

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Casper Republican On CNN: Wyoming GOP Has Been Taken Over By Extremists

in News/Liz Cheney/politics

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The former Natrona County Republican chairman appeared on CNN Wednesday to discuss why he voted against rescinding U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s Republican credentials and to criticize the “extremists” running the Wyoming Republican Party.

Dr. Joe McGinley spoke with CNN host John Berman on Wednesday about the vote the Wyoming Republican Party held over the weekend to rescind recognition of Cheney as a Republican.

“I was just surprised this topic came up again,” McGinley said. ” However…the state party…the leadership is somewhat irrelevant at this point and felt the need to bring the topic back up again, to my surprise. And you know, this is even crazier. I mean, you can’t tell someone that they’re not a Republican. If they register as a Republican and say they’re Republican, then they’re a Republican.”

The Republican State Central Committee on Saturday voted 31-29 in support of a resolution that states that it will no longer recognize Cheney as a member of the Republican Party because of her vote to impeach former President Trump and her criticism of Trump’s perpetuation of the claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

McGinley said there is a real silent majority in Wyoming of “true conservatives” who believe in morals, ethics and humility.

“They don’t want to come up and express their opinion to everyone. They go to the polls. That’s where they express their opinion,” McGinley said. “They also don’t want to be harassed. There’s a lot of extremists even within our own party, that if you express an opinion that differs from theirs…they’re going to try to embarrass you. They’re going to harass you on social media. You might even get censured by the state party for speaking out.”

McGinley said people do not want to be put in the spotlight for political opinions and are afraid to share their thoughts regarding the happenings in the party.

McGinley also told Berman extremists have taken over the state Republican Party organization, as well as many county parties across the state.

However, he added he has faith in the voters, both in Wyoming and nationally.

“The common voter does not agree with this type of messaging or behavior,” McGinley said. “There’s a lot of individuals that really do support the policies of President Trump, but also support Rep. Cheney. So, those individuals also are afraid to speak out. [Extremists are] oppressing the voice of the individual by creating fear and essentially a larger group of individuals that just don’t want to participate.”

McGinley noted that Cheney’s voting record showed she consistently backed Trump while he was in office and added even now, her voting record is one of the most conservative in the House. He said these facts aren’t brought up among Republicans because they are not “convenient” facts.

“As a true Republican…you want a representative that represents your conservative values and principles, and someone that’s going to vote the way the party really wants you to vote overall with principles. So, that’s what we see with Rep. Cheney and her voting record. Really, you can’t question it,” he said.

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Fremont County Sen. Cale Case Urges Colleagues Not To Have Special Session

in News/politics

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Longtime Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, sent out a document over the weekend to his fellow legislators explaining why he believes the Legislature’s upcoming special session is a bad idea.

Case sent his colleagues a “white paper,” an informational document detailing the philosophy and guidance of a complex issue. The document was initially written by Equality State Policy Center executive director Chris Merrill in December, but he and Case revised it to apply to the session.

In the paper, Case explains why he believes it is a bad idea for the House and Senate to consider the same bills at the same time in a “mirror” arrangement. Usually, a bill is reviewed by one chamber and, if approved, sent to the other for review.

“We have two houses for a reason,” Case wrote. “Mirror bills and expedited scheduling defeats bicameralism at least in part because the reviews are not independent as they are both at the same time or in the same ‘passion.'”

The Legislature is to begin a three-day special session on Tuesday to formulate the state’s response to President Joe Biden’s mandate that federal workers, health care employees and employees at companies employing more than 100 people receive the coronavirus vaccine or be tested regularly for the illness.

The Biden administration has not yet issued the rules that will be required to put the mandate into effect.

In his email to his fellow legislators on Saturday, Cale noted that he has served as the Senate chairman of the Select Committee on Legislative Process for a number of years and in that role, he and the committee have worked hard to improve transparency and public access to the legislative process.

“The rules proposed for the Special Session are a step backward,” Case wrote in the email. “I encourage you to vote no on the proposed rules and conduct all our work with maximum transparency and opportunity for public education and participation.”

Should a majority of the legislators vote “no” on the proposed rules, the special session will be adjourned on Tuesday or lawmakers will have to abide by the rules for a regular legislative session.

Thirty-five Wyoming representatives and 17 senators voted in favor of holding a special session, while 12 representatives and seven senators voted against holding one. Case was one of the senators who voted against the session.

In the document, Case and Merill detail how the traditional legislative process upholds the spirit and intent of the Wyoming Constitution and fulfills the vision of the Founding Fathers.

“The ‘mirror bill’ process—even in the best of circumstances and with the best of intentions—does not,” Case and Merill wrote. “It is a deeply flawed, inferior approach to lawmaking that undermines the wisdom and intent of a bicameral legislature. It compresses the timeline for deliberations, eliminates the one-chamber-at-a-time principle, eliminates the key ‘crossover’ moment (which allows for a fresh infusion of public input and new information), and severely limits—even eliminates at key points—public input and involvement.”

Case told Cowboy State Daily last week that he felt the special session was a bad idea.

“I don’t agree with the federal mandates on employers and I want to be clear about that,” Case said. “But I don’t see a legislative path to fix that.”

An op-ed published Monday and penned by various non-partisan officials from across the state also objected to the session.

“This is not about whether or not you support mandates,” the opinion piece said. “Regardless of your position on vaccinations or masks, fast-tracking legislation undermines the deliberative process that is the hallmark of good lawmaking.”

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Legislator Names Anti-Mask Bill In Honor Of Laramie Teen Arrested For Not Wearing Mask

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A bill named after and and inspired by the Laramie teen arrested at her high school for refusing to wear a mask has been filed for consideration by Wyoming’s Legislature.

The Grace Smith Medical Freedom Act would require county and state health officers to grant waivers from coronavirus immunization or face mask use requirements to any K-12 student who requests one. This bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Ocean Andrew, R-Laramie, and Sen. Bo Biteman, R-Sheridan.

Andrew told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that he named the bill after Grace because he was inspired by the courage shown by her and her father in ignoring Laramie High School’s mask mandate.

“They took a stand for not only their rights but all people’s rights,” Andrew told Cowboy State Daily. “I felt it was important that I sponsor this bill because her arrest happened within the boundaries of the district I represent.”

He added that the state’s statutes need to be updated to reflect the health freedom rights guaranteed by the state’s Constitution.

“The Wyoming Constitution says that the State of Wyoming shall act to preserve these rights from undue governmental infringement,” Andrew said. “I believe that it’s our duty as a legislature to update our statutes to reflect the rights guaranteed by the constitution we pledge to uphold.”

The bill will likely come up for discussion during the Wyoming Legislature’s special session next week.

Biteman did not immediately respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment.

Grace was arrested earlier this month for trespassing after she refused to wear a face mask at Laramie High School as required by school district policy. She was cited for trespassing for refusing to leave the school after being told she could not stay unless she wore a mask.

Grace went into custody willingly and was polite with officers when arrested, videos taken and shared by her father show. The teen was also fined $1,000 for trespassing.

Albany County School District No. 1, which includes Laramie High, adopted a requirement for the use of facemasks in September. The requirement was extended until mid-November by school board members earlier this month.

Grace has withdrawn from the high school due to the controversy, but has not ruled out enrolling again for her senior year.

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Legislators Divided Over Whether Wyoming Should Have Special Session On Vaccine Mandate

in News/Coronavirus/politics
Wyoming State Capitol

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s legislators are divided over whether or not the state should hold a special session regarding President Joe Biden’s proposed vaccine mandates.

In September, Biden announced that federal workers, health care workers and employees at companies that employ more than 100 people will have to be vaccinated against coronavirus or be tested every week for the illness.

Wyoming’s legislators have until Thursday to vote on whether or not the state should hold a special session regarding the mandate.

Nine members of Wyoming’s Democratic Caucus told legislative leadership that they would be voting against the session. These members included Reps. Cathy Connolly, Mike Yin, Karlee Provenza and Andi Clifford and Sens. Chris Rothfuss and Mike Gierau.

“After considering the $25,000 per day cost of a special session, the lack of released federal rules in regards to how OSHA may enforce vaccine mandates, and the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution that indicates that federal laws override state directives, we believe a special session would be an undue burden to the taxpayer, a waste of time and resources for legislators and our staff, and would further cause an undue burden to Wyoming businesses who would be forced to choose  between following state OR federal law, requiring them to be in violation of one or the other,” the caucus wrote. 

Rep. Landon Brown, R-Cheyenne, was one of the Republican members of the legislature who also voted against the special session.

“My stance is clear: Our President’s mandate has no place in Wyoming,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, we have no clue what his mandate looks like under rule making process and we would be fighting against a rule that doesn’t exist yet. While I believe President Biden’s proposed rule is too far for government to reach, I also believe it is too far for government to enter into the hiring practices of private businesses.”

“If a private business wishes to impose hiring protocols that an employee is uncomfortable with, they have the choice to not enter into that employment,” he said. “Likewise, the business should be ready to suffer the consequences of the choices they choose to impose or not impose on their employees and the response from the public. Let the business succeed or fail based on their merit, not on government interference.”

Former Speaker of the House Kermit Brown praised Brown (no relation) for his vote.

“Courageous vote and absolutely the right thing to do. We don’t need to be getting in lawsuits with the Feds,” Kermit Brown wrote. “They are horribly expensive and trying to overcome the supremacy clause in the US Constitution is an uphill battle.”

“I always figured each day of the legislature cost $30,000 and I think I am low especially for a short special session. We are broke and don’t know it and we cannot afford silly expenditures like this,” he said.

As of Wednesday morning, a dozen senators had voted to hold the special session, while four had voted to not hold it. More than 25 representatives had also voted to hold the session.

Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, was one of the senators who voted to hold the session, posting a photo of his ballot to social media that included a post-it note with a message to legislative leadership.

“We now need a special session because the Republican establishment killed my bill on the same subject,” Bouchard wrote on the ballot. “Of course I will vote yes on the special session. Don’t Fauci our Wyoming!”

Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, also voted for the session.

“The dates of October 26-28 have also been scheduled for the special session, which would allow us to pass a bill banning mandates before the Banner Health deadline goes into effect,” Gray wrote on social media. “This is great news for our state! We must stop these radical vaccine mandates.”

It was not immediately clear whether the plan was to hold the session in person or virtually, but it would be around $45,000 cheaper to hold a session online.

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Cheyenne GOP Rep Worries Wyoming Will Be Only State Without Hate Crime Law

in News/politics

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Republican state representative from Cheyenne believes that Wyoming could be the last state in the nation without a hate crime statute, more than 20 years after the state was thrust into the national spotlight due to a hate crime.

Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that he believes the state needs such a statute.

His comments came less than one week after the Joint Judiciary Committee “voted down legislation that would have updated statutory language to create a…hate crime law in Wyoming,” according to WyoFile.

The committee also voted down a bill that would have brought law enforcement agencies’ reporting protocols in line with federal standards, WyoFile reported.

“I continue to believe Wyoming needs a bias-motivated crime statute. We are slated to be the only state in America without a statute at this point,” Zwonitzer told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “Wyoming will continue to find statutory language which will work for Wyoming.”

Along with Arkansas and South Carolina, Wyoming remains one of three states without hate crime legislation.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, on Monday called for the reintroduction of hate crime bills in the Wyoming legislature.

“With racism and bigotry on the rise across the country, legislation protecting vulnerable communities is vital,” said CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw. “We urge lawmakers in Wyoming and nationwide to enact legislation providing strong penalties for bias-motivated crimes.” 

McCaw noted that CAIR offered support for the legislation when it was proposed in June. 

Discussions of hate crime legislation have been brewing for nearly 20 years, following the murder of Matthew Shepherd, a gay man, in Laramie.

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Lincoln County GOP Cancels Cheney; 8th County To Do So

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Lincoln County Republican Party has joined other county GOP parties in the state in rescinding its recognition of U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney as a Republican.

The party overwhelmingly, but not unanimously, passed a resolution on Tuesday evening to rescind Cheney’s Republican status, county party Chairwoman Marti Halverson told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday.

“Most of the discussion centered on [the resolution saying] ‘Whereas, Representative Liz Cheney has attempted to legitimize her actions and personal political agenda by referring to the majority of Wyoming Republican Voters with terms such as “a misinformed mob, radical extremists, bigots, racists, promoters of the ‘big lie’, enemies of the state, conspiracy theorists, dangerous rot, & white supremacists,'” Halverson said.

She noted that the party also struck a line at the end of the resolution that quoted former President Donald Trump that said she was “fired.”

This is the eighth Republican Party in Wyoming to adopt such a resolution, following in the footsteps of parties in counties including Carbon, Park, Fremont and Uinta. Crook County rescinded its recognition of the representative as a Republican earlier this week.

Carbon County GOP chair Joey Correnti on Tuesday welcomed the Lincoln County Republican Party to the group.

“WELCOME LINCOLN COUNTY!!!” Correnti wrote on the party Facebook page. “Anyone who thought this was just going away, doesn’t understand the cyclic monthly county party meeting schedule. WE’RE DEFINITELY BACK IN ACTION!!!”

Cheney has been criticized by some Republicans in Wyoming for her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump on allegations he encouraged attendees at a rally to invade the U.S. Capitol.

When asked about Cheney’s reaction to these actions by the Uinta and Platte county organizations last month, the representative’s spokesman Jeremy Adler pointed Cowboy State Daily to an earlier statement.

“Liz will continue to fight for all the people of Wyoming. She knows that she and all elected officials are bound by their duty under the U.S. Constitution, not by blind loyalty to one man,” he told Cowboy State Daily in August.

Two More Republicans Surface As Cheney Opponents

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher, Cowboy State Daily

An online political publication has identified two more Wyoming Republicans as congressional candidates who were interviewed by former President Donald Trump in his search for a challenger to the re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney.

State Sen. Bo Biteman, R-Ranchester, and Casper resident Catharine O’Neill were identified by Politico as joining state Rep. Charles Gray, R-Casper, and Cheyenne businessman Darin Smith in seeking Trump’s endorsement in the GOP primary for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Trump has vowed to work for Cheney’s defeat should she seek election to a fourth term as Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat. Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans to vote for Trump’s impeachment on allegations his comments led to the invasion of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Smith confirmed last week he met with Trump and a spokesman for another campaign said Gray was invited to New Jersey for the meeting as well.

The Politico article identified Biteman and O’Neill as also being interviewed. O’Neill’s Twitter account showed a picture of her standing with the former president.

Neither one immediately responded to a request for comment.

Cowboy State Daily reported last week that a push-poll was being conducted in Wyoming to determine Biteman’s name familiarity with voters and gauge how well he would compete against the other contenders and incumbent Cheney.

Biteman, who served in the Wyoming House of Representatives for two years before being elected to the state Senate in 2018, sponsored a bill that the Trump organization pushed for, which would see Wyoming using a runoff system in elections where no candidate received 50% or more of the votes cast. It failed to get legislative approval in time for the 2022 election cycle.

O’Neill has described herself on social media as being a private citizen living in Casper with family ties in Wyoming going back generations. She has also said she is a longtime landowner in Wyoming.

She worked for the Trump administration for three years in the State Department, and prior to that worked for his campaign in 2016. In 2020, she ran “Catholics for Trump” during his re-election bid.

She said that for the last seven months, she has been working with Wyoming ranchers to create a viable option to have cattle slaughtered and processed here in the state rather than shipping them to packing plants in other states.

O’Neill, an heir to the Rockefeller fortune, attended the GOP rally for South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem in Cheyenne last week and told one source that she intends to buy a cattle feedlot in Wheatland soon.

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Trump: Wyoming Should Have Run-Off Elections

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Former President Donald Trump said on Friday that Wyoming should have a runoff election to get U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney out of office.

In a statement, Trump said that Wyoming voters want a clear majority winner in the Republican primary for the state’s lone U.S. House seat and the only mechanism that accomplishes this is a runoff election, “pitting the top two candidates against each other.”

“Conservative Republicans in the Wyoming State Legislature like Senator Bo Biteman and Representative Chip Nieman led this effort. Unfortunately and sadly for Wyoming voters, RINO State Legislators stood in the way, defeating the Run-Off Election bills,” Trump said Friday.

The bill the president was referencing, Senate File 145, made it through committee during the Legislature’s session earlier this year, but was ultimately killed during this year’s legislative session. It would have called for a runoff election to be held between the leading two candidates in a race if no candidate received a majority of the votes cast in the primary election.

Earlier this year, Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. voiced his support for run-off elections in the state as well.

The younger Trump framed his argument in support of the bill as opposition to Cheney, one of a handful of Republicans in the U.S. House to vote for the impeachment of the former president.

“The easiest way to defeat Deplorable Liz Cheney is by having only ONE Conservative candidate run and WIN! Wyoming Patriots will no longer stand for Nancy Pelosi and her new lapdog RINO Liz Cheney!” the elder Trump said on Friday.

Cheney handily won both the primary and general elections in 2020. In her first bid for Congress in 2016, she won almost 40% of the votes cast in the Republican primary.

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Trump Meeting With Cheney Opponents In New Jersey For Endorsement Possibility

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Former President Donald Trump intends to meet with some of U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s primary election opponents next week with an eye toward a potential endorsement, he announced Tuesday.

Trump announced on his website that he would be meeting with some of Cheney’s opponents in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he owns a golf course. He said he will make an endorsement in the race in the next several months.

“Paying close attention to the Wyoming House Primary against loser RINO Liz Cheney,” Trump said on Tuesday. “Some highly respected pollsters tell me she’s toast in Wyoming after siding with Crazy Nancy Pelosi and supporting the Democrat Impeachment Hoax. And that’s just the beginning! This is a “hot” race with some very interesting candidates running against her. Remember though, in the end we just want ONE CANDIDATE running against Cheney.”

It wasn’t clear who Trump intended to meet with, as there are numerous potential candidates running for the seat.

Currently, eight people have announced their intent to run against Cheney in her 2022 re-election bid: state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, state rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, Cheyenne businessman Darin Smith, retired U.S. Army Col. Denton Knapp, Sheridan resident Bryan Miller, Sheridan businesswoman Robyn Belinskey, former Pavillion Mayor Marissa Selvig and Bryan Keller.

Sheridan’s Belinskey and Knapp, of Gillette, said they had not been contacted about the meeting as of Tuesday afternoon.

Other candidates could not immediately be reached for comment.

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

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Biden Appoints Gordon to Bipartisan Council of Governors

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

President Joe Biden has appointed Gov. Mark Gordon to a bipartisan Council of Governors, the governor’s office announced on Thursday.

Gordon is one of nine governors appointed to a two-year term on the council, which was authorized and required by the National Defense Authorization Act in 2008 under President George W. Bush. The council serves as a forum to strengthen partnerships between federal and state governments to better protect the nation from threats to homeland security and other types of hazards.

The council focuses on matters of homeland security, homeland defense, civil support, synchronization and integration of state and federal military activities in the United States and other matters of mutual interest, including those involving the National Guard.

“From the very founding of our country, Americans have depended on our National Guard,” Gordon said. “The men and women who serve in our Army and Air Guard are always there for us, and we should always be grateful for their service. I am honored and humbled to have been asked to serve on the Council because of the important role it plays.”

The council includes leaders across the Federal government: the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, the Deputy Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs, the Commander of U.S. Northern Command, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, and the Chief of the National Guard Bureau.

Other key federal officials such as the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are regular participants.

The current council is:

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Co-Chair
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, Co-Chair
Delaware Gov. John Carney
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon

The nine newly appointed Governors will join Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on the council. Lee’s term expires in 2022.

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

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#DefundNPR,” Gray wrote on Twitter Monday morning.

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

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

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

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lummis, Barrasso Criticize ATF For Proposed Pistol Brace Rule

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bouchard Didn’t Attend Candidate Forum Because He’s “Way Out In The Lead”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Most of the Republican candidates for Wyoming’s congressional seat appeared at a forum in Casper over the weekend, but incumbent U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney and challenger state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, were not among them.

A spokeswoman for Bouchard’s campaign said there was “no way” he would attend because he leads all of Cheney’s challengers.

The forum was hosted by the conservative political action committee America First, which is led by politician K.W. Miller, and the Cowboy State Politics podcast on Saturday at the Ramkota hotel in Casper. Candidates were questioned about their stances on various policies and issues affecting both Wyoming and the United States.

Six of the eight candidates appeared at the forum, with Cheney and Bouchard being invited but choosing not to participate.

“Mark my words: any candidate that is not in the room tonight is not getting elected in 2022,” Miller said during the forum.

According to Bouchard’s spokeswoman, April Poley, there was no need for the senator to appear at the forum.

“Anthony is way out in the lead. He has no reason to attend a forum right now or any other event that involves his opponents,” Poley wrote on social media over the weekend.

She called Miller a conspiracy theorist and failed politician who only got 2.2% of the vote in the general Florida election last fall when he ran for Congress.

“He has repeatedly attacked Anthony Bouchard and the campaign, but Anthony was expected to say, ‘yes sir, right away sir’ when K.W. the narcissist told him he needed to attend his forum?” Poley said. “You can call Anthony many things but ‘butt kisser’ is not one of them. There was absolutely no way Anthony was going to show up for something involving K.W. Miller.”

Miller made headlines last year for a conspiracy theory he floated about the singer Beyonce Knowles, claiming she is not Black.

Bouchard said he has now raised more than $500,000 for his campaign against Cheney. His last official Federal Election Commission filing on March 31 put his fundraising at $334,541. According to Cheney’s FEC filing, she had raised $1.5 million by March 31.

Cheney made no mention of the forum on any of her social media accounts this weekend.

Many of Cheney’s opponents at the forum noted they were running against her due to her being “out of touch” with Wyoming voters.

This was also the reason stated by Bouchard and state Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, earlier this year for their decisions to run against Cheney. Cheney’s vote to impeach former President Donald Trump also figured into thier decisions, they said.

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Barrasso: Biden Economy Is Reason Behind High Grocery, Gas Prices

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Just days after U.S. Sen. John Barrasso praised President Joe Biden for his willingness to work with Republicans over an infrastructure deal, the senator criticized the president for the current state of the economy.

Barrasso spoke on the Senate floor this week about the latest rise in unemployment, as well as the uptick in prices for consumer goods, especially gasoline and groceries.

“Before Joe Biden took office we saw the fastest economic recovery in American history. We were bouncing back from the coronavirus shutdowns,” Barrasso said. “It’s a very different story now. It no coincidence this is a direct result of President Biden’s policies.”

He blamed Biden and congressional Democrats for continuing to pay out an additional $300 weekly pandemic-related unemployment insurance benefits, thereby incentivizing to people to stay unemployed rather than seek a regular paycheck. Many states, including Wyoming, have ended these benefits to push people to go back to work.

Barrasso added that job openings were at an all-time high, but industries of all kinds have struggled to hire people due to low wages, a lack of benefits or both.

Some people have also been hesitant to return to work in-person because of the pandemic, even though infection numbers have declined steadily recently.

Barrasso felt that the Biden administration was wrong in continuing to incentivize people to stay home.

“People want to work. People want to hire. The incentives coming from government are absolutely wrong,” Barrasso said. “It’s Joe Biden and Big Government that are getting in the way of people returning to work.”

He added that under the Biden administration, middle class people will be “squeezed,” something he claimed also happened under former President Barack Obama’s administration. The senator said April was the worst month for inflation since the recession in 2008.

“It’s working families in Wyoming who are struggling to get by who are going to get hurt the worst,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the price of gas has gone up. Joe Biden’s first action in office was to draw a target on the back of American energy and pull the trigger.”

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Bouchard Releases Video Announcing Teen Pregnancy, Marriage From Florida Days

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Congressional candidate state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, has announced he impregnated and married a teenage girl when he was also a teen living in Florida.

In a 13-minute video posted to Facebook on Thursday, Bouchard discussed the pregnancy and marriage, although he did not specify how old he and the girl were at the time.

“So bottom line…two teenagers, girl gets pregnant, you’ve heard this story before,” Bouchard said. “She was younger than me. So it’s like the Romeo and Juliet story.”

The two were pressured to have the girl under go an abortion, but neither was willing to do so.

“There was pressure to have her banished from their family and just pressure to go hide somewhere,” Bouchard said. “The only thing I could see was the right thing, which was to get married and take care of them.”

Neither had the best home lives, Bouchard noted in the video. He was living on his own by the age of 15, but ultimately obtained his GED and vocational training.

According to the Casper Star-Tribune, Bouchard was 18 and the girl was 14 when she became pregnant. They married when they were 19 and 15, respectively.

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, the Star-Tribune reported.

Bouchard took care of the couple’s son following his ex-wife’s death, but the two are now almost estranged.

“Sadly, he’s made some wrong choices in his life,” the senator said. “I certainly don’t approve of them, but I’m not going to abandon him. I still love him.”

Bouchard’s son, Tony Raymond Bouchard, is currently imprisoned at the Bob Wiley Detention Facility in Visalia, California, on multiple convictions, including sodomy by use of force, sexual penetration by foreign object and false imprisonment by violence. He has been incarcerated since 2018.

The senator said he posted the information about the pregnancy and marriage because the relationship was being investigated by a U.K. news outlet which he did not name.

He also said the fact people were digging into something that happened nearly 40 years ago was indicative of “dirty politics” and an example of why good people don’t run for office.

Bouchard said he was frustrated that people were digging into his background, but also said he wasn’t going to drop out of the congressional race.

“This tells you I’m in the lead, because if I wasn’t, they wouldn’t be doing this,” he said. “I’m not intimidated. Bring it on. I’m going to stay in this race and we’re going to continue to raise money.”

Bouchard does not believe that incumbent U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney was involved in digging up this information.

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

The senator has touted his support of Trump and conservative values and politics as why he is the best choice to represent Wyoming in its lone House seat.

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Barrasso Praises Biden For Willingness to Work With Republicans

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso offered kind words regarding President Joe Biden and his administration for their willingness to work with congressional Republicans on Biden’s proposed $2 trillion infrastructure bill.

On Thursday, Barrasso and five other Republican senators (including Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo and Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker) met with the president to discuss a possible compromise regarding the bill.

The Wyoming senator called the meeting “very productive” and praised Biden’s willingness to work with Republicans on a compromise.

“I believe that Joe Biden is actually interested in cutting a deal with Republicans,” he said. “We knew going in we were going to be Plan B…but we told him we are willing to work with him…but we’re going to leave out subsidies for electric vehicles, we’re going to leave out so-called climate justice.”

The senators and Biden will meet sometime again Tuesday to continue discussions.

Last month, Barrasso and other Senate Republicans proposed a counteroffer to Biden’s bill, costing $568 billion and focusing more on “traditional” infrastructure such as roads, bridges and public transport, something the senators have claimed is only a minor notation in Biden’s original proposal.

It should be noted that Barrasso was recently fact-checked about some his claims regarding the infrastructure bill, mainly his statements about how only 6% of the bill focused on “traditional” infrastructure.

“The 6% for roads and bridges figures you and other GOP leaders have cited has been fact-checked multiple times,” ABC host Martha Radditz said to Barrasso earlier this month. “The total amount for what you have called traditional infrastructure, roads, bridges, waterways, public transit is more than 25% of the Biden plan. So, do you want more?”

Barrasso did not object to the fact check, instead saying he has been working with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, on traditional infrastructure projects in this new bill.

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Cheney: We Have a Responsibility to Fight For, Rebuild Republican Party

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney still believes in the conservative values of the Republican Party and wants to continue to fight for them, she told Wyoming reporters on Thursday morning.

“I don’t think [the party] is irrevocably broken, because this is a party with an unbelievable history, the one of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan,” she said during a news conference. “I think we have a responsibility to fight for and rebuild that party. The country needs a Republican Party.”

Cheney’s comments came just 24 hours after House Republicans voted to remove her from her No. 3 position in Republican leadership as the party’s House Conference chair. The vote was taken in response to her ongoing skirmish with former President Donald Trump over his allegations of election fraud during last year’s general election.

Cheney told reporters the Republican Party shouldn’t be hijacked by a cult of personality, referring to Trump and his most fervent supporters. Some of those supporters have called Cheney a traitor for her vote in January to impeach Trump, but she noted prior to the impeachment vote, she had voted with him around 93% of the time.

“There are millions and millions of Republicans who are very worried about the direction the party is going and don’t want the party to be dragged backward by a former president,” she said. “Some of them are not as public as others, but it’s our duty to stand up for these things.”

In the case of the riot at the Capitol that led to five deaths, Cheney said Trump crossed a line that should never be crossed, not only by the comments he made immediately prior to the storming of the Capitol, but also in his refusal to call for help. Former Vice President Mike Pence was ultimately the one to call in the National Guard, hours after the attack began.

“I think people have been betrayed by the former president,” Cheney said Thursday. “He is perpetuating lies and saying things that are fundamentally not true. Those of us who swear an oath to the Constitution have a duty to uphold that oath.”

Cheney is expected to be replaced as House Republican Conference chair by U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, although no timeline has been officially set.

Trump celebrated Cheney’s removal from her position on Wednesday.

“I watched her yesterday and realized how bad she is for the Republican Party,” Trump said. “She has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our Country. She is a talking point for Democrats, whether that means the Border, the gas lines, inflation, or destroying our economy. She is a warmonger whose family stupidly pushed us into the never-ending Middle East Disaster, draining our wealth and depleting our Great Military, the worst decision in our Country’s history.”

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Cheney is On Her Own; Barrasso, Lummis, Gordon Offer No Support

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s top elected officials are offering no support for U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney as she fights to retain her U.S. House leadership position.

However, two of the three, Gov. Mark Gordon and U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, vowed to continue working for Wyoming regardless of the outcome of a vote to remove Cheney as chair of the House Republican Conference, the No. 3 position among Republicans in the House.

“We have to remember that (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and (Senate Majority Leader) Chuck Schumer are the real threats to Wyoming,” Gov. Mark Gordon told Cowboy State Daily on Monday. “Regardless of what the House does, I’ll continue working with our delegation to protect our Wyoming’s way of life and advance a conservative agenda.”

Last week, U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Lousiana, confirmed that he is now backing U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York, for Cheney’s position. Former President Donald Trump is also expected to endorse Stefanik for the job.

Lummis spokeswoman Abegail Cave directed Cowboy State Daily to a statement the senator gave to the KROE radio station in Sheridan last week about the Cheney situation.

“I served in the House for eight years and I was a member of the Republican conference there,” she said. “[Cheney] is currently the spokesman for that current conference and it’s up to them to determine who they want to lead.”

Lummis added that she didn’t comment on matters in the House of Representatives and how they conduct their business. She noted that during her time in the House, former House Speaker John Boehner lost the support of the conference, which led him to step down and by replaced by former House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“I know how difficult these times can be, having been through it when I was in the House,” Lummis said. “All I can say is, House Republicans will do the best thing for their conference. And I’ll just leave it at that.”

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso did not respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment.

However, when asked by Fox News host John Roberts if Cheney should be replaced, he dodged the question, speaking instead about the importance of returning Republicans to the majority in Congress.

“I chair the conference in the Senate,” Barrasso said. “And we’re focused on the future and taking back the Senate in 2022. We need to be together as a team.”

This isn’t the first time. Two weeks ago while appearing on ABC News, he said the same thing when host Martha Raddatz asked him if Cheney hurt the Republican Party.

“We need to focus on the 2022 elections, so that we can win back the House win back the Senate, get united on the things on which we agree, and then successfully stop the far extreme efforts of this Biden administration and those that are taking the country towards socialism,” he said.

Cheney has faced growing backlash among her Republican colleagues (and many Republicans and conservatives in general) for her vote to impeach Trump following the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. She was one of 10 House Republicans to do so.

Since then, Cheney and Trump have been locked in a battle of sorts, with the former president regularly throwing barbs her way. She recently commented on his claims that he truly won the presidential election, saying anyone who believed that the election was stolen was spreading lies and turning their back on the rule of law.

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Cheney On Biden’s First 100 Days: “An Unfortunate Time For Wyoming”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney said Wednesday that President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office has been an unfortunate time for Wyoming.

During a call with Wyoming reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Cheney spoke about her expectations ahead of Biden’s first speech in front of both congressional houses.

“Even thought it’ll look different, the message we’ll be hearing from President Biden will be the same that we’ve been hearing since his first days in office,” she said. “It’s been a really unfortunate time, in terms of policy demand, particularly for Wyoming.”

She criticized Biden’s decision to stop construction on a border wall between the United States and Mexico first implemented by President Donald Trump.

“There are supplies that have already been purchased, we’ve already appropriated contractors that could easily be used to complete construction of the wall in places where we know people are coming across illegally,” she said.

However, since the Biden administration halted construction, taxpayers are footing the bill for both the materials and contractors, neither of which are being used.

Cheney has supported the border wall for some time, noting in the call that the U.S./Mexico border was being controlled by drug cartels who also are engaged in human trafficking.

“I would hope that we would begin to see a change in policy but I don’t believe we will,” she said, adding that she expected to see more policies enabling situations like the border crisis.

She reiterated sentiments expressed by her colleague, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, that the situation at the border is both a national security and humanitarian crisis.

This is not the first time the representative has addressed Biden’s “lax” policies regarding immigration, joining in with Barrasso last month to criticize the president regarding undocumented immigrants crossing the border.

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Bouchard to Appear at Florida Rally With Marjorie Taylor Greene Over Weekend

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, is making one of his first out-of-state appearances for his congressional campaign this weekend at an “America First” rally in Florida.

Besides Bouchard, the other guests at the rally will include Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Amanda Chase, Republican Florida House of Representatives candidate Drew-Montez Clark and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia.

The rally will be held Saturday morning and suggested donations to attend are $10.

Bouchard’s campaign spokeswoman April Poley told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday that Bouchard accepted the invitation to the rally because he was already going to be in Florida over the weekend.

“He will already be in Florida this weekend for other events and accepted the invitation to this event as it is not too far from where he will otherwise be,” Poley said.

Like Bouchard, Greene is a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump and supported his claims that he actually won the presidential election last fall.

She is a fairly new representative, taking office just three days before the storming of the U.S. Capitol earlier this year.

Chase is a Virginia state senator and the first female Republican gubernatorial candidate the state has ever seen. She supported the Capitol rioters by calling them patriots and suggesting Trump might still have the chance to be sworn in.

She has also spoke of “deep state” conspiracy theories, not unlike Greene, who has regularly voiced her suspicion about some mass shootings and questioned the official accounts of the attack on the World Trade Centers and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

Clark ran for the Florida House last year, but lost in the primary.

Bouchard announced his campaign for Congress earlier this year following U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s vote to impeach Trump for the role he allegedly played in inciting the attack on the Capitol.

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PACs Contribute $300,000 To Cheney, None To Her Opponents In First Quarter

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Of the three top candidates for Wyoming’s lone U.S House seat, only the campaign of incumbent U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney received money from political action committees during the first quarter of the year, according to federal reports.

Cheney, who will be seeking her fourth congressional term in office in 2022, received $301,000 in contributions from political action committees in the first three months of 2021.

Cheney’s two chief opponents in the Republican primary for the office, state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Casper, and state Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, have received no donations from PACs, according to federal campaign documents.

The reports showed that Cheney raised almost $1.54 million in the first quarter of the year, compared to Bouchard’s $334,165 and Gray’s contributions of $40,154.

A fourth candidate in the campaign, Marissa Joy Selvig, has raised $1,968, according to her FEC filings.

According to the documents filed last week, at least 41 organizations identified in their names as political action committees have donated to Cheney’s re-election campaign.

A political action committee is a group formed to represent individuals with shared interests or business concerns to donate money to the campaigns of candidates they feel will act in the best interests of their industries or concerns.

Among the groups contributing to Cheney were the Air Line Pilots Association, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the National Beer Wholesalers, Dow Chemicals and the National Association of Broadcasters, each of which donated $5,000 to Cheney’s campaign.

The Bluegrass Committee, a PAC formed by U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, also donated $5,000, as did the health care companies CVS Health and HCA Healthcare.

Other donors included Best Buy ($1,500), The Gap ($1,000), pharmaceutical company Merck ($1,000), and the Value in Electing Women PAC ($5,000).The Oneida Indian Nation gave Cheney’s campaign $5,800 in two donations, while the Northern Arapaho Indian Tribe donated $3,000.

The two donations from the Northern Arapaho Tribe were among 47 received from Wyoming sources in 2021, according to the FEC filings. Donors listed as contributing to Cheney’s campaign included her parents, former U.S. Rep. Dick Cheney and Lynne Cheney, who donated a total of $11,200.

Also donating were former Wyoming House Speaker Randall Luthi, R-Freedom, and former Wyoming Attorney General Gay Woodhouse.

Total donations from all individuals contributing to Cheney’s campaign totaled almost $1.02 million.

Of those donations, $167,065 was not identified as coming from a particular donor. The threshold for donors to be identified is $200, according to the FEC, and many candidates choose not to identify those donating less than $200.

If a large number of contributions of less than $50 is made at a political event, the total amount collected may also be included in the “unitemized” category on the FEC report.

Cheney received 1,221 contributions from identified donors in the first quarter of the year, the reports said.

Meanwhile, all of Bouchard’s donations came from individuals, according to his filings.

Bouchard, who announced his challenge of Cheney after she voted to impeach former President Donald Trump on allegations he incited a mob to invade the U.S. Capitol in January, reported he had received $334,370 in 210 donations.

Of those donations, 52 came from Wyoming individuals. Individual contributions coming from unidentified donors totaled $230,295.

Gray’s report showed he received $40,154 from donors, including $34,300 from identified donors and $5,854 from donors who were not identified.

Of Gray’s 36 identified donations, 28 were from Wyoming sources.

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Bouchard Claims Cheney Is Scared, Being Backed By “Woke” Corporations

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Hours after Cowboy State Daily revealed U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney smashed her fundraising record during the first quarter of 2021, one of her challengers is making claims about the representative’s backers.

Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, alleged Cheney is being backed by “woke” corporations like Walmart, AT&T and T-Mobile, all of which are trying to keep her in office and “bankrolling her against [Bouchard].”

“The ‘woke’ corporations are lining up behind Liz Cheney — FLOODING her campaign coffers with MILLIONS of dollars. These are the same ‘woke’ corporations trying to shove the Democrats’ far-left agenda down our throats,” Bouchard wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning.

According to documents obtained by Cowboy State Daily, Cheney raised $1.54 million during the first quarter of 2021. Of that, more than $1 million came from individual donors.

Bouchard said conservative political analyst Bill Kristol (who Bouchard referred to as a “Democrat”) had donated $50 million to defend “Republicans in name only”.

“Democrat, Bill Kristol pledged $50 million to defend RINOs — like Rep. Liz Cheney. His money is on Billboards dubbed the Republican-Accountability-Project with a “dot gop” address. The Republican Party is silent,” Bouchard wrote.

A search of the Federal Elections Commission database turned up no donations from Kristol to any of Cheney’s campaigns, although Kristol has donated to other conservative figures, such as Texas U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw.

Kristol does head the Republican Accountability Project, though, which was formed in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Capitol earlier this year.

Cheney voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for his role in allegedly inciting the riot, which then led Bouchard and Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, to announce their respective congressional campaigns against her.

One tweet from Bouchard on Wednesday addressed Cheney and the former president.

“RINO Liz Cheney says that Donald Trump ‘doesn’t have a role in the future of the GOP.’ — her FEAR is shinning [sic] through. R/T to expose her,” he wrote.

Bouchard also said Cheney was being backed by former Republican leaders.

“DC Swamp TEAM — former Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan helping RINO Liz Cheney stockpile millions in cash. Beltway LOBBYISTS also raising swamp money for their RINO,” he wrote.

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Gray, Bouchard Begin to Ramp Up Congressional Campaigns

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Two Wyoming legislators are ramping up their respective congressional campaigns against U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney.

Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, held one of his first in-person campaign fundraisers over the weekend in Riverton, while Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, has received one of his first endorsements.

Bouchard’s supporters hosted a $25-per-plate fundraiser on Saturday night at the fairgrounds in Riverton.

“Thank you to Fred & Colleen Nelson for sponsoring the event tonight in Riverton. Great turnout and lots of new supporters!” the senator wrote on Twitter this weekend.

Gray touted his endorsement from Rep. Clarence Styvar, R-Cheyenne, on social media Monday morning.

“I’ve worked side-by-side with Chuck Gray in the legislature and that’s why I know he’s the best choice to fight for the people of Wyoming in Congress,” Styvar said in his endorsement.

Gray noted Styvar is one of the most conservative legislators in Wyoming.

While Gray and Bouchard are opponents in the congressional race, they are united in one goal: ousting Cheney from Congress.

Both announced their campaigns for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat following Cheney’s vote to impeach former President Donald Trump for allegedly inciting the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Cheney said she voted with her conscience, but Gray and Bouchard both said they felt Cheney wasn’t representing Wyoming properly.

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Cheney Detractor Matt Gaetz Sees Troubles Continue

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Florida congressman known for his criticisms of U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney is seeing major troubles in his life after it was announced last week he was being investigated for sex trafficking.

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican, is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice into allegations he had sex with an underage girl and other women who were provided drugs and money in violation of sex trafficking and prostitution laws.

Gaetz has denied all the allegations, but the hits seem to keep coming for the Florida representative.

On Thursday, an Illinois congressman called on Gaetz to resign, something he has refused to do since news of the investigation broke last week.

“Matt Gaetz needs to resign,” U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger tweeted Thursday night, linking to a Daily Beast article about allegations against Gaetz that included information about his Venmo transactions with an accused sex trafficker.

Gaetz has also been accused of using his cell phone while on the floor of Congress to show nude photos of women to other members of Congress, according to CNN.

Two of his staffers, his legislative director and communications director, have also resigned from their positions since the allegations have gone public, according to Forbes.

According to the Associated Press, Gaetz has hired prominent New York attorneys amid the probe.

“Matt has always been a fighter. A fighter for his constituents, a fighter for the country, and a fighter for the Constitution. He’s going to fight back against the unfounded allegations against him,” Gaetz’s office said in a statement Friday, adding that his lawyers “will take the fight to those trying to smear his name with falsehoods.”

Gaetz has been in some type of political office since 2010, serving for six years in the Florida House of Representatives. He was elected to Congress in 2016 and has been known for his vehement support of former President Donald Trump.

In fact, Gaetz traveled to Wyoming earlier this year to speak out against Cheney for her impeachment vote against the former president for allegedly inciting a riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

“The establishment power brokers like Liz Cheney are climbing in a deeply corrupt game,” Gaetz said during his Cheyenne appearance. “We do not have to be condemned to some grim fate.”

He also criticized Cheney’s support of military action abroad, saying she had blood on her hands.

“Every day, I see the cost of the wars Liz Cheney has advocated for,” he said. “I see the tearful goodbyes in airports, the marriages destroyed, the parenting that’s interrupted, the drug abuse, the suicides, lost limbs, lost minds, lost lives, lost hope.”

Gaetz was invited to the rally by Rep. Ocean Andrew, R-Laramie.

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Wyoming’s Delegation Oppose Biden’s Infrastructure Plan; “Out-Of-Control Socialist Spending Spree”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s congressional delegates have all come out against President Joe Biden’s newest infrastructure plan, calling it “out-of-control” and a “political football.”

The $2 trillion package focuses on job creation, traditional infrastructure spending and investment in certain areas such as funding for care workers and for childcare to be offered at workplaces.

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis wrote a short comment about the plan on Twitter, retweeting an article from political website “The Hill.”

“Everyone agrees that we need to update our transportation infrastructure. Biden wants to make it a political football,” she wrote. “We can do better.”

Her congressional colleagues had much more to say, though.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso called the plan an “out-of-control socialist spending spree.”

“This proposal…will hike taxes and spend trillions of dollars on the left’s radical agenda,” Barrasso said. “Democrats are offering to hamstring the economy with higher energy bills and higher taxes for families in Wyoming and across the country. Republicans want to protect our energy dominance, and let hardworking Americans keep the money they earned.”

“President Biden should change course and look to our bipartisan highway bill from the last Congress if he is really interested in improving our infrastructure,” Barrasso added.

Biden also intends to hike taxes on corporations, which would offset the bill’s spending in about 15 years.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney called the plan the “largest tax hike in history” and said it would destroy jobs and increase the nation’s debt.

“These tax increases would hurt middle-class Americans, taking more of their hard-earned money at a time when our economy is still recovering.” Cheney said. “The Biden plan would eliminate the pro-growth policies that reduced unemployment to historic lows and led to the creation of one of the strongest economy’s our country has ever seen.”

She added congressional Democrats admitted the plan was more about fulfilling “Green New Deal fantasies” rather than helping the nation.

“Once again, President Biden has shown that he does not appear to be serious about working across the aisle,” Cheney said. “I hope Congress will reject the far-left outline he put forward today and instead work in a bipartisan manner to pass targeted infrastructure legislation that both parties agree we need.” 

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Bill Would List Political Affiliation For School Board Candidates

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would allow school board candidates to list their political affiliation on ballots won approval from a Senate committee Friday, despite objection from the Wyoming School Boards Association.

Sen. Affie Ellis, R-Cheyenne, the sponsor of Senate File 138, told members of the Senate Education Committee that the party affiliation listings will help voters decide who to cast their ballots for in school board races.

“Every year during election season, I do my due diligence and try to make sure I understand who the candidates are,” said Ellis, a member of the committee. “Inevitably, before I was elected and spent so much time working on education issues, I really had no idea who was on the school board.”

Ellis noted by allowing school board candidates to add their political party affiliation, voters would also be alerted to some of their ideals.

“I think it would indicate to voters what your mindset is and I know there are people who are proud of their party affiliation, Republican or Democrat,” Ellis said.

However, she added the party affiliation listing would be optional for school board candidates.

However, Wyoming School Board Association Executive Director Brian Farmer said since the board positions are non-partisan, his association believes party affiliations should not be included on ballots.

“We believe school boards are nonpartisan and that they should operate with the best interest of children in mind without regard to political party,” Farmer said.

Additionally, non-partisan elections run on a different cycle than partisan ones, the latter of which are paid for by the state. School board elections are paid for by school districts.

Lobbyist Marguerite Herman added school board candidates generally make no secret of their party affiliation in their campaign materials and said she feels the affiliation shouldn’t be added to the ballot for these candidates since they do not hold the same type of power as a city councilperson or county commissioner.

“I’ve always had a bit of a Pollyanna attitude, but it’s that you should leave your political party affiliation at the door when you walk into a school boardroom,” Herman said. “You have to think of the district as a whole.”

The committee passed the bill on a vote of 4-1, sending it to the Senate floor for consideration.

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Legislator Introduced Budget Amendment to Fire Wyoming Health Officer

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, introduced an amendment to the latest state budget bill this would that would have dismissed the Wyoming public health officer, but it was rejected by House members.

Gray introduced the amendment during the Wyoming House of Representatives’ second reading of the state’s supplemental budget bill Wednesday, but it was defeated in a voice vote.

“I’m bringing an amendment this afternoon to the budget to dismiss the state health officer,” Gray wrote on Twitter Wednesday. “The actions of the state health officer and the Governor’s office over the past year have been unconstitutional and wrong for Wyoming.”

The amendment would have defunded Dr. Alexia Harrist’s position as the state health officer and would have put her responsibilities on the director of the Wyoming Department of Health until at least September.

During the floor session, Gray explained to his colleagues that he has seen a “disturbing” pattern over the last year.

“The masking, the fear, it’s done tremendous damage to our state, to our economy, to our psyche,” Gray said.

He pointed to South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who he called a brilliant leader and he said has become a “huge light” in the country by going against what was politically correct and what “the media was pushing.”

Gray added that the state wouldn’t be without a health officer for long, as the Senate has a bill that would allow the Legislature to confirm appointment to the position.

Rep. Bill Fortner, R-Gillette, agreed with his colleague about the amendment, but Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander, found the amendment “troubling.”

“This is probably one of the most troubling amendments that I’ve seen in a budget bill since I’ve been in the session,” he said. “In that it looks to be vindictive against an individual trying to do their job. My point is, if you were hired to be the state health officer, you’re going to do what you think is best.”

Larsen added he felt Harrist did what she thought was best for the state, despite taking abuse from legislators about what an “idiot” she was.

“Do we want to do the same thing for every state employee, because we don’t like the way they patch the road?” Larsen said. “This is not the way we do business in Wyoming.”

It wasn’t clear how many representatives voted for and against the amendment since it was a voice vote.

The Legislature has been considering at least five bills related to public health orders and the authority of state and county health officers in the wake of the pandemic.

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Lummis, Barrasso Criticize Proposed $15 Minimum Wage

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis criticized the proposed $15 minimum wage included in the latest coronavirus relief bill, calling it an inappropriate and irresponsible addition.

“The Biden Administration’s $15 minimum wage increase may work in New York and California but it does not work for states like Wyoming,” Lummis said in a statement. “Placing that one-size-fits-all standard on every state is irresponsible.”

On the Senate floor, Barrasso gave a more impassioned speech about the wage increase.

“The bill includes a mandate from Washington D.C. to double the minimum wage, nothing to do with coronavirus. In fact, it would actually make things worse,” Barrasso said.

Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25, which has been in place since 2009. The proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill includes not only a stimulus payment for residents, but a proposal to boost the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025.

Barrasso maintained federal studies showed the increase would do more harm than good.

“The Congressional Budget Office took a look at this and said what would the impact be on the economy? They say that 1.4 million people who have jobs right now would lose their jobs if the federal government came in with a mandate to double the minimum wage,” Barrasso said. “That’s not a stimulus.”

According to Business Insider, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, two of the party’s most moderate politicians, have both said they are opposed to using budget reconciliation — a maneuver that allows the majority party to speed through high-priority fiscal legislation without support from the minority party — to pass the minimum wage hike.

Manchin, along with other moderates and most conservatives, said he is worried that the incremental wage increase could end up doing more harm than help. 

Manchin has said he would support something “responsible and reasonable” when it comes to raising the federal minimum wage and has proposed a smaller increase to $11 an hour. 

Congressional Budget Office report estimated the legislation, if passed, would increase the cumulative budget deficit by $54 billion in the next decade. Prices for goods and services would also increase as a result of paying workers more, the report said.

But the report also estimated the hike would pull 900,000 workers out of poverty and pump $333 billion back into the economy.

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Barrasso Wants Republicans to Come Together to Take On Biden

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso this week called for unity in the Republican party in order to challenge President Joe Biden’s administration.

While talking with Fox Business host Stuart Varney on Wednesday, Barrasso lamented the fact that the party has become so divided in recent years, partially due to the polarizing personality of former President Donald Trump.

“We need to stick together because of what we see happening with the Biden administration,” the senator said. “Right now, they’re killing millions of great jobs here in America. The administration is spending trillions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars that we just can’t afford to spend.”

Barrasso was referring to the recent moratorium Biden placed on oil and natural gas leases on federal lands and a proposed coronavirus relief bill totaling $1.9 trillion.

He noted that as a doctor, he had a prescription for the nation to get back on the right track: the Republicans should stick together so they can dominate the 2022 elections.

“[We can stop] this runaway freight train, which is the far-left liberal agenda of the Biden administration,” Barrasso said.

Currently, in addition to the White House, the Democrats hold a majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

This isn’t the first time Barrasso has called for unity in his party, although the last time he did so, it was in reference to both the Republicans and Democrats coming together to pass the last coronavirus relief bill in December.

At the time, Barrasso accused Congressional Democrats of politicizing the pandemic, adding that House and Senate Republicans had tried “40 times” to get a bill accepted to “provide relief for the American public.”

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Laramie County GOP to Discuss Cheney Censure on Tuesday

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Laramie County Republican Party could soon join the ranks of other Republican party groups across Wyoming that have censured U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney for her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump.

According to an email sent from an address belonging to the Laramie County GOP, a resolution to censure Cheney was submitted for consideration during the party’s meeting Tuesday.

The unidentified party official who responded to questions from the Cowboy State Daily said he or she was not sure how the resolution would fare.

“While I normally have a good read on where the votes on resolutions will fall, this one is definitely going to have mixed votes and will likely be pretty split with whichever way it falls,” the email said.

When asked for a name, the person did not respond.

A censure is an expression of disapproval and has no binding effect on its subject.

Multiple Republican parties across Wyoming, including the Wyoming GOP itself, have censured Cheney over the last month in response to her impeachment vote.

Cheney voted to impeach the former president after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. She said at the time that her vote was based on the fact she believed Trump had incited the mob to action.

Five people died as a result of the attack.

Earlier this month, congressional Republicans voted overwhelmingly to keep Cheney in House leadership by a 145 – 61 margin.

“This is just an example that the Republican Party is a very big tent, everyone is invited in, and when you look at the last election, we continue to grow and in two years, we’ll be the majority,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said.

The Wyoming Republican Party wasn’t as supportive, however.

“Representative Cheney has aligned herself with leftists who are screaming that what happened last Wednesday is the ‘worst thing ever in our history’ (or similar such claims). That is absurd and shows their lack of knowledge of history as well as their willingness to skew the facts to further their corrupt agenda,” the Wyoming GOP said in a statement.

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UW Researchers Find Major Impacts Due to Political Division

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The polarization between the two major political parties has far-reaching impacts on American life, University of Wyoming researchers have found.

A paper by researchers from UW and five other universities who looked into all the impacts of political polarization was published in January in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing of the American Marketing Association.

The study concluded the impacts go far further than most had expected, touching even on mental and physical health, said Dave Sprott, dean of the UW’s College of Business and one of the paper’s authors.

“I think we’re all aware of how political polarization has affected our elections and system of government, but the impacts go far beyond the political arena,” he said. “Ultimately, polarization harms mental and physical health, financial welfare, relationships and societal interests through its impact on psychology, marketing and public policy outcomes.”

The researchers referenced previous studies that suggested political polarization in the United States is more pronounced now than in the past, at least among members of the nation’s major political parties, with Democrats significantly more likely to identify as liberal and Republicans as conservative.

Additionally, those questioned for the studies indicated they believe the parties ideologies overlap less now than they did in previous years, and the portion of people who hold extreme political opinions is increasing.

Research also showed that political identities, such as Republican, Democrat, liberal or conservative, help determine people’s behavior, attitudes and perceptions.

Those identities can be reinforced by people selecting social groups with shared belief systems, consumption of media that only align with those beliefs and even creation of a “group-specific shared reality,” the researchers wrote.

From a public policy standpoint, political polarization makes it more difficult for elected officials to effectively govern, the paper asserted. This is due to a number of factors, including a lack of trust in scientists in policymakers and prevalence of misinformation.

“For instance, as society has become increasingly polarized, politicians’ objectives diverge and their animosity toward the opposition grows, thereby reducing opportunity for compromise,” the researchers wrote. “Partisan incivility is a major reason for failed dialogue: Uncivil exchanges result in disagreement and greater polarization regardless of the evidence presented.”

This political polarization is reflected in the marketplace, as consumers connect with brands that they perceive reflect their values and beliefs.

“In effect, activist consumers will increasingly expect brands to help spur social change, and will be more likely to respond to brand actions through a political lens,” the researchers wrote.

For example, they noted that the expressions of support for former President Donald Trump by the CEO of Goya Beans, a Latin food company, resulted in liberal consumers boycotting the company’s products and conservatives promoting them during 2020.

Similar situations arose for companies including My Pillow, Home Depot and Chick-fil-A when their corporate leaders expressed support for conservative causes.

Even when companies aim to be apolitical, the nation’s polarized environment increases the chances that they will be viewed as being political, the researchers said.

“As the population becomes more polarized, initiatives that were previously viewed through an apolitical lens may be viewed as favoring one political identity over another, as a polarized population is more likely to view corporate actions through a political lens,” the researchers wrote.

Ultimately, according to the researchers, consumer welfare suffers because of political polarization in these areas:

Finances: With political positions influencing decisions, people may sacrifice wages, lose out on jobs, make suboptimal purchases and disregard opportunities to save. For example, research has found that employees accept lower wages to work for politically like-minded entities, and people may select higher-priced products or ones that offer less-functional value.

Relationships: Polarization has the potential to prevent neighbors or colleagues of opposing parties from developing friendships. This ultimately deprives individuals of intellectual diversity, among other things.

Health: Obstruction of social relationships stemming from political polarization can cause both mental and physical harm. Additionally, “the politicization of coronavirus prevention techniques has seemingly slowed their adoption and obscured dissemination of scientific facts, thereby amplifying the spread of a deadly disease.”

Societal interests: For instance, beliefs relating to global warming, affirmative action, wealth inequality and gun control often tend to reflect individuals’ political affiliations rather than a deliberate processing of relevant information that results in evidence-based decision-making.

“In addition, the broader negative impacts of these policy areas on society as a whole have the potential to harm individual mental and physical health over the long term,” according to the researchers.

The researchers suggest a number of potential measures to limit the effects of polarization, including reducing the spread of misinformation, using messaging techniques to try to bridge the different values of liberals and conservatives and limiting the length of political campaigns.

At the same time, the researchers acknowledge that some level of conflict is good and natural for society, and that polarization has been shown to increase voting and political participation.

“Future research should consider the possibility that while political polarization can be harmful, there may be silver linings and reasons for hope,” the researchers concluded, suggesting inquiry into “what types and levels of societal conflict result in positive versus negative outcomes.”

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More Than 170 Wyoming Republicans Changed Party Affiliation After Capitol Siege

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

More than 170 Wyoming Republican voters changed their party affiliation following the invasion of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.

Approximately 176 Republicans changed their party affiliation over the last month, according to a redacted change of party report provided to Cowboy State Daily by the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office.

Of the Republicans who changed their affiliation, 33 switched to the Democratic Party.

Most of the others changed their party affiliation to independent, although a few changed to either the Libertarian or Constitution parties.

Wyoming Republican Party Chair Frank Eathorne did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Just over 200 Wyoming voters in total have changed their party affiliations in the last three weeks.

As of December, Wyoming had a total of 303,049 registered voters: 209,347 Republicans, 51,268 Democrats and 38,731 unaffiliated.

About 3,500 registered voters were affiliated with either the Libertarian or Constitution parties.

The attack on the U.S. Capitol was conducted by thousands who have been identified as supporters of former President Donald Trump.

The attack occurred the same day that Congress met to certify the Electoral College election results confirming Democrat Joe Biden as president.

The incident led to something of a division in Wyoming’s Republican Party with the state’s lone represenative, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, voting for Trump’s impeachment on allegations he incited the riot.

U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis, meanwhile, both voted against conducting an impeachment trial in the Senate.

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Wyoming Gun Owners Criticize Cheney, Barrasso Over Trump Impeachment

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Gun Owners Association has joined the chorus of organizations criticizing U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney for her vote this week to impeach President Donald Trump this week.

“Its (sic) a statewide embarrassment that our only voice in the House of Representatives, Liberal Liz, is included in this list of hyper moderates! What a joke….” the group wrote on its social media account this week, linking to a story from the New York Times that had a list of Congressional Republicans voting to impeach the president.

Cheney voted this week to impeach Trump on allegations that he incited a mob in Washington, D.C., to storm the Capitol. She has repeatedly said that her decision to impeach the president came from her conscience, not her political beliefs.

“There are times when those of us as elected officials are called on to act in a way that does not take politics into consideration,” she said. “Dealing with something as serious and as grave as the attack on the Capitol is one of those times.”

WYGO is also criticizing U.S. Sen. Barrasso, posting on its Facebook page a screenshot from Twitter that included a list of Republican senators leaning toward convicting Trump. The list included Barrasso and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

In the screenshot, someone has circled Barrasso’s name and added the acronym “WTH,” which means “What the hell.”

“Who does John Barrasso think he works for??? Has [sic] you or any other gun owners that you know of asked John to vote with Chuck Schumer and the hard left, to impeach President Trump??” WYGO wrote in the post.

It should be noted that Barrasso hasn’t publicly said whether or not he will help impeach Trump during a Senate trial.

WYGO has been known for attacking politicians and political candidates its members deem “RINOs,” or “Republicans in name only,” including making denigrating comments about former Wyoming legislators Michael von Flatern and Tyler Lindholm following their defeats in the primary election in August.

The organization is a conservative lobbying group headed by Aaron Dorr.

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Wyoming Republican Party Urges Delegation to Contest Electoral Vote

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Republican Party and many of the state’s Republican legislators have sent a letter to the the state’s congressional delegates, urging them to object to certification of the Electoral College’s vote.

In a letter dated Saturday, Wyoming Republican Party Chairman W. Frank Eathorne asked U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, then Sen.-elect Cynthia Lummis and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney to contest the certification of the presidential election that pitted Presidential Donald Trump against former Vice President Joe Biden.

“Extensive evidence has surfaced that has led Wyoming Republicans to doubt the integrity of our presidential election in numerous states,” Eathorne wrote, referring to the multi-state lawsuit Gov. Mark Gordon refused to join that also questioned the validity of votes cast in the election.

Lummis and a number of other Republican senators have announced they plan to object to certification this week, until an audit can be completed of votes cast in states where questions about elections have surfaced.

Cheney, on the other hand, has questioned the wisdom of insisting on an audit of the votes, saying that would put the outcome of elections in the hands of Congress. Barrasso has been mum on the vote mostly, although he did recently admit to Fox News anchor Chris Wallace that Biden had been elected president.

“This is not about winning or losing. This is about being on the right side of history,” Eathorne wrote.

Seven currently-serving Wyoming senators (including Sens. Anthony Bouchard, Tom James and Bo Biteman) co-signed the letter, along with nine representatives (including outgoing Rep. Scott Clem and Rep. Clarence Styvar) and a number of incoming legislators, including Representatives-elect Ocean Andrew and Chip Neiman.

In a follow-up letter from Sunday, Reps. James Blackburn and Chuck Gray, as well as Senator-elect Tim French also signed on to join the letter.

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Cheney: China Has Infiltrated Entertainment Industry

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney on Wednesday continued to question the congressional committee assignments of U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-California, who has been embroiled in controversy since it was revealed that one of his former fundraisers was apparently a Chinese spy.

Cheney told Fox and Friends on Wednesday morning that Swalwell represented a national security hazard.

“I think the real question is why Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi hasn’t taken action,” Cheney said. “We really need to make sure, across-the-board, we’re defending ourselves.”

News outlet Axios detailed an alleged political intelligence operation run by a civilian spy agency in China between 2011 and 2015. Swalwell is not suspected of any wrongdoing.

Pelosi appointed Swalwell to the House Intelligence Committee, which oversees a number of executive branch agencies and departments.

Cheney criticized Pelosi for pivoting the committee’s focus from potential international espionage to the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

“We as a nation cannot afford to have somebody as a Speaker of the House, who’s not serious about the most important national security threat we face,” Cheney said.

The representative also agreed with allegations by U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, that many mainstream media outlets (such as The New York Times and the Washington Post) are affiliated with China, receiving money for promoting propaganda about the country.

She pointed as an example of the most recent example of Hollywood working with China to the live-action remake of “Mulan.”

It has been documented that the Chinese Communist Party is keeping Uighur Muslims in concentration camps in the Xinjiang Uighar Autonomous Region, and Cheney and a number of colleagues questioned the Walt Disney Company’s cooperation with China, since they are committing human rights violations.

“The Chinese government has managed to infiltrate the highest levels of our entertainment industry,” she said.

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Cheney: Chinese Communist Party Is Attacking United States

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney recently continued her crusade against possible espionage and bad dealings between the United States and China, this time on Fox News with Dana Perino.

Cheney appeared on Perino’s show on Tuesday to discuss the situation regarding U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, who was named in a recent report by Axios that detailed an alleged political intelligence operation run by a civilian spy agency in China between 2011 and 2015.

A woman involved with the operation took part in fundraising for Swalwell’s re-election campaign in 2014 and helped place an intern into the office. However, Swalwell has never been suspected of any wrongdoing.

The woman also made connections with other prominent California Democrats over that time period.

“I think that unfortunately and concerningly, this is part of a much larger pattern where we know that the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese government, is on the attack against the United States of America,” Cheney said.

Cheney called the report alarming during her interview with Perino and questioned whether or not Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi knew about the investigation before appointing Swalwell to the House Intel Committee.

“Speaker Pelosi not only put him on that committee, but she took that committee and insisted that that committee focus on impeachment, focus on efforts to impeach the President at a time when we know this threat from China was growing,” she said.

She added that the Republican Party was the only one in Congress willing to take the Chinese government on. She criticized Pelosi and the Democratic Party for “refusing to acknowledge that the Chinese Community Party is an adversary.”

Cheney also felt the Chinese government was trying to attack the U.S. through economic means. She also noted that she believed the spy operation was significantly larger when it came to targeting the U.S.

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Denver Mayor Advises Not to Travel on Thanksgiving; 30 Minutes Later He Boards Flight to Houston

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One of the reasons politicians have such a bad rap is some say one thing and do another.

Take the case of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

After telling Denverites to stay home for the Thanksgiving holiday, he got on a plane on Wednesday and flew to Houston to spend time with his family in Mississippi.

In fact, 30 minutes before boarding the flight to have an in-person dinner with his family — in direct opposition to what he advised — he tweeted:

“Host virtual gatherings instead of in-person dinners. Avoid travel if you can.”

The job of a press secretary can be a horrible one if you have a hypocrite for a boss.  And in this case, his deputy communications director had to answer to the press.

His statement? Another reason politicians have such a bad reputation. Instead of admitting a mistake was made, he tried to rationalize it.

“As he has shared, the mayor is not hosting his traditional large family this year, but instead traveling alone to join his wife and daughter where the three of them will celebrate Thanksgiving at her residence instead of having them travel back to Denver. Upon return he will follow all necessary health and safety guidance and quarantine,” Mike Strott said.

What makes this all worse?  Hancock’s press conference last week where he said he was just going to be having a Zoom call for Thanksgiving.

“We’re going to be doing a Zoom so that we can at least see each other on Thanksgiving. So please, I urge everyone, maybe get a small turkey this year and celebrate with just those you live with,” he said.

In other words, the mayor lied and went against everything he said not to do and his people are trying to cover for it. 

Hancock is not the first and certainly won’t be the last politician do this.

Earlier this week, New York Gov Andrew Cuomo advised citizens to stay at home for Thanksgiving but then announced his was traveling to spend Thanksgiving with his mother.  He quickly changed his mind.

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Bouchard Clobbers Opponent, Sails To Easy State Senate Win

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

State Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne easily turned back what was anticipated to be a strong challenge from Democrat Brittany Wallesch, on Tuesday to win election to his second Senate term.

According to unofficial returns, Bouchard won 6,707 votes in Tuesday’s election to Wallesch’s 3,702.

Bouchard is the founder of the Wyoming Gun Owners organization which campaigned aggressively for him.  He won a difficult Republican primary race in August and it was anticipated the race for the general election would be close as well.

Bouchard, whose district straddles Laramie and Goshen counties, won a majority of votes cast in the race from both counties.

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Report: Wyoming Is One Of Nation’s Most Politically-Engaged States

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming is one of the United States’ most politically-engaged states, according to a recent report.

Personal finance website WalletHub compared the 50 states based on 11 key indicators of political engagement, ranging from the percentage of registered voters in the 2016 presidential election” to “total political contributions per adult population.”

Wyoming is the fifth most politically-engaged state, following behind Maine, Washington, Colorado and Maryland, respectively.

The state placed first when looking at the largest percentage change in the number of people who cast ballots in the elections of 2016 compared to 2012, 3.2%.

Wyoming, New York, Massachusetts and Virginia all tied for first place when it came to the highest total political contributions per adult.

WalletHub also shared information that said Wyoming came in 14th in the country for its percentage of registered voters who voted in the 2016 presidential election and 15th for electorates — all people who are eligible to vote — who voted in 2016.

Wyoming also came in first for civic education engagement and 16th for its voter accessibility policies.

Hawaii is ranked as the country’s least politically-engaged state.

Nationally, only 61.4% of the voting age population voted in the 2016 presidential election and 53.4% voted in the 2018 midterm, WalletHub reported.

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Torrington PD: Stop Vandalizing, Stealing Political Signs

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Torrington Police Department has had to get involved in politics this week.

Over the last couple of weekends, the department has received several reports from community members who have had their political signs stolen or vandalized.

The department has also investigated multiple incidents of politically-motivated graffiti that has damaged public property in Torrington. Police believe these incidents have happened during the late evening and early morning hours.

“Just because our political candidates don’t get along, doesn’t mean we can’t take care of each other,” the department said in the post. “The constitutional freedoms that allow us to express ourselves and support political candidates of our choosing are important parts of our democracy.”

The post added that if the community and world at large wanted to continue enjoying those constitutional freedoms, people must maintain an environment that allows for health discussions, “rather than trying to drown out opinions that are different than our own.”

The department is asking for the community’s help in addressing the crimes, adding people should call 911 (if there is an emergency) or the non-emergency line to report information about the vandalizations.

“Thank you for helping us to keep Torrington a great place to live!” the post concluded.

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Cheney Slams Biden, Pelosi For Not Speaking Out Against Defunding The Police

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

In signing a pledge offering “unwavering” support for America’s police officers, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney blasted former Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not condemning the “Defund The Police” movement.

“I proudly signed Heritage Action’s ‘Police Pledge,’ which states that we unequivocally support our police officers & will oppose any effort to defund them,” Cheney tweeted. “Our police officers in Wyoming & across the country are heroes & they deserve to be treated as such.”

“Democrats like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, who don’t speak out against the reckless campaign to ‘defund’ our police, are irresponsible and dangerous,” she said.

This wasn’t the first time Cheney slammed Pelosi this week. On Wednesday, Cheney took a swipe against the House Speaker for using a hair salon in San Francisco when all hair salons are supposed to be closed due to the pandemic.

“Hairpocrisy,” Cheney tweeted while posting a story of Pelosi’s ill-fated trip.

In related news, President Trump on Friday received an endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police.

“Public safety will undoubtedly be a main focus for voters in this year’s election,” a spokesman for the organization said. “Look at what the national discourse has focused on for the last six months. President Trump has shown time after time that he supports our law enforcement officers and understands the issues our members face every day.”

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Senator Uses Wyoming As Example Why DC Shouldn’t Be A State; Predictably Gets Annihilated On Social Media

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The House of Representatives will vote Friday on a bill that aims to make the District of Columbia the 51st state in the nation.

Arguing against the bill on Thursday was U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas. 

In his argument, Cotton compared the District of Columbia to Wyoming likely because a frequent criticism of those who desire Washington, D.C. to become a state is that the district has a higher population than the cowboy state.

“Yes, Wyoming is smaller than Washington, D.C. by population,” Cotton said.  “But it has three times as many workers in mining, logging, and construction and 10 times as many workers in manufacturing.”

“In other words, Wyoming is a well-rounded working class state. A new state of Washington, D.C. would not be,” he said.

“What vital interests would the new state of Washington, DC represent?  Lobbying? Bureaucracy?” he asked himself.

“By far the largest group of workers in the city are bureaucrats and other white collar professionals,” he said. This state would be nothing more than an appendage of the federal government.”

The aftermath?  Predictable. 

Just as he was roundly criticized by the mainstream media for an opinion piece he authored in the New York Times advocating the federal government push back on rioters in the country, he was slammed for this opinion as well.

“Why should should people’s political rights depend on their participation in the resource-extraction economy? Is it because people who work in those fields are … well, hold that thought,” wrote New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait.

Mark Joseph Stern of Slate magazine tweeted, “Tom Cotton is racist.”

Max Berger, who describes himself as a political organizer for social democracy went there too.  

“Wyoming: 578,759 residents; 91.6% of them are white.  D.C.: 705,749 residents; 45.5% of them are Black. Tom Cotton thinks Wyoming should be a state, but D.C. should not. I wonder why!,” he tweeted.

The likelihood of Washington, D.C. becoming a state — at least for now — is small. Senator Mitch McConnell has vowed that the bill never see the light of day on the senate side and President Trump has said he would veto any such bill.

As for public support, only 29% of the country supports it according to a recent Gallup poll.

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Former U.S. Rep. Lummis to seek Senate

in News/politics

Cynthia Lummis, who served as Wyoming’s lone U.S. representative and state treasurer, will run for the U.S. Senate in 2020, she announced Thursday.

Lummis, who stepped down from Congress in 2017,  said during a news conference she is running for the office now held by U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi to pursue a conservative agenda that will help Wyoming.

“As I’ve been  back here in Wyoming, I’ve been working with Wyoming people and families and businesses and we’ve watched the erosion of some of our traditional independent individual rights,” said the Republican. “It is just appalling what is happening.”

In a separate news release. Lummis said she was worried about liberal lawmakers in Congress and wants to return to Washington, D.C., to oppose their efforts.

“I can’t in good conscience watch from the sidelines as our way of life is threatened by liberal ideologues in D.C.,” she said. “A new crop of socialist lawmakers are waging war on our freedoms.”

Enzi is retiring from the Senate after serving for four terms.Lummis, a Cheyenne native who served as Wyoming’s U.S. representative from 2009 through 2017, said if elected, she plans to stand behind the policies of the administration of President Donald Trump.“We want to build the wall here in Wyoming and fix the broken immigration system,” she said during her news conference. “We want to uphold the Constitution and defend religious liberties and the Second Amendment.”

Policies adopted by past administrations, specifically those of former President Barack Obama, have hurt Wyoming’s industries and economy, Lummis said. “Washington simply can’t seem to keep its nose out of Wyoming’s business,” she said. “The heartbreaking layoffs in Campbell Country are an example of this. People back here in Wyoming are continuing to be devastated by Obama-era policies aimed at regulating our natural resources out of existence.”

Meanwhile, proposals such as the “Green New Deal,” a package of measures proposed by the U.S. House members aimed at curtailing fossil fuel use, would hurt the energy industry in the future, she said.

“This Green New Deal would destroy Wyoming’s energy economy,” she said. “We are the largest exporting state of energy in the nation. And stopping the socialist agenda and the Green New Deal is heavy on my mind.”

In an interview with Cowboy State Daily’s Robert Geha, Lummis also said she supports Trump’s approach to governing. Lummis said she believes the president’s popularity in Wyoming is due to the fact he is outspoken in his opposition to efforts to weaken constitutional rights.

“I thought the typical American and the typical Wyoming person’s reaction to that was that we cannot elect as the next president (someone who) will go along to get along, that is going to be business as usual, that is going to be establishment, we need somebody who is totally different,” she said. “And that’s what we got with President Trump.”

Before serving as a congresswoman, Lummis was elected to two terms as Wyoming’s treasurer, a post she held from 1999 through 2007. Lummis entered politics in Wyoming as a member of the state’s House of Representatives, first from 1979 until 1983 and again from 1985 until 1992. She entered the state Senate in 1993, where she served until 1995.

One Democrat, Laramie’s Yana Ludwig, has announced she intends to seek the open Senate seat. Republican Joshua Wheeler of Casper has launched a website expressing his intention to campaign for the office.

Cynthia Lummis’ daughter, Annaliese Wiederspahn, is the publisher of Cowboy State Daily. She played no role in the production of this story.