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Scott Clem

Wyo State Rep. Clem Holding Rally to Protest “Tyranny” of Gov. Gordon

in News/politics

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Outgoing state Rep. Scott Clem of Gillette is making a statement as he leaves office by organizing a protest rally at the Wyoming State Capitol at noon on Jan. 4.

The “Free Wyoming Rally” will be a chance to “practice our constitutional rights to peaceably assemble and protest the tyranny of our Wyoming State Governor,” Clem wrote in a post on his legislative Facebook page.

Clem added that he scheduled the protest for Jan. 4 because it is the same week the statewide health orders, including the mask mandate, will expire and he wants citizens to “demand it stay that way.”

“The Governor and the Legislature have received thousands of emails from Wyomingites pleading for their rights to be upheld, to operate their businesses without gov’t infringement, to plead for their right to work and make a living, to see their loved ones who now suffer in a make-shift prison with a devalued quality of life, to reign in the power of the state health officer, to stand with Wyoming voters against election fraud in other states, and to stand with President Donald Trump,” Clem wrote.

All of the aforementioned requests have fallen on deaf ears, Clem claimed, adding that some of the people complaining have been ridiculed by government officials.

Clem also said that Wyomingites were being looked as subjects to be controlled by “Big Brother,” a reference to the tyrannical ruler in George Orwell’s novel “1984.”

He also claimed 70% of the state’s residents were “furious because our elected officials won’t stand for election integrity,” referring to Gov. Mark Gordon’s refusal to join a multi-state lawsuit questioning the validity of many votes cast in the presidential election.

“It’s time to take our unheard concerns to his front door at the Capitol,” Clem wrote. “It’s time to make them hear our voices. This is something to take off work for. This is something to assemble en masse for. It’s your turn to stand for the freedoms our fathers gave their lives for.”

A spokesperson for Gov. Mark Gordon told the Casper Star Tribune that the governor is supportive of anyone who carries out their First Amendment rights.

“As for the protests next week, the Governor has heard many criticisms from all sides and understands there are varying perspectives on how to handle this virus and its myriad impacts,” the spokesperson said.

A request for comment sent to the Wyoming Republican Party was not immediately returned as of Tuesday afternoon.

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Rep. Scott Clem: Gov. Gordon’s Coronavirus Response Is Unconstitutional

in News/Mark Gordon/Coronavirus

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By Ike Fredregill, Cowboy State Daily

As Gov. Mark Gordon moves to ease restrictions put in place because of COVID-19, some Wyomingites question whether the restrictions were ever the right response. 

Larry Herdt, a 63-year-old Wyoming native living in Casper, said requiring businesses to close was a step too far, no matter how dangerous coronavirus is.

“Closing down businesses and all this stuff — to me it’s infringing on people’s rights,” Herdt said. “(Gordon) never asked people how they would mitigate it (in their businesses), and I think that should have been his first step.”

In Wyoming’s northeastern corner, Rep. Scott Clem, R-Gillette, wrote an open letter to Gordon, calling for businesses and schools to reopen weeks ago.

“We’re citizens in this country, not subjects,” Clem told Cowboy State Daily. “To see China respond to this in a very authoritarian and draconian way was not surprising. But when we had governors here in America, like sheep, follow the China model, I was not expecting that.”

Wyoming did not impose strict stay-at-home orders like some states, which Clem applauded, but he said he felt the state still went too far in restricting residents’ ability to work.

“I think we ought to start reopening today and tomorrow,” he explained. “I think the cosmetologists, barbers, tattooists …  should be open today.”

Herdt expressed similar sentiments, adding bars and restaurants to the mix.

“I’m not a bar person, but I eat in a lot of bar-and-grill places, and I think they should be able to make their own decisions,” he said. “To me, what (Gordon) did was unconstitutional.” 

On March 13, Gordon declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by a statewide public health order to close bars, restaurants, theaters, gymnasiums, child care facilities and schools in an attempt to limit the virus’ ability to spread among congregated people.

While Gordon issued an advisory for residents to stay at home, the governor did not order them to do so.

Clem said during these unprecedented times, he felt Gordon was doing the best he could, but closing businesses overstepped the Constitution by quarantining healthy people, rather than just the sick. 

“We give pretty broad statutory authority to our public health officer to deal with these kinds of pandemics,” he said. “But upon looking at those statutes, it’s clear to me those statutes have more to do with quarantining sick individuals than healthy individuals. For me, that’s the disproportionate response.”

While Clem acknowledged the severity of the pandemic and the need to cater a response to prevent the state’s health care facilities from being overwhelmed, Herdt said he viewed threats posed by COVID-19 as part of the natural course of life.

“Walking out the door is a risk,” Herdt said. “With all the pathogens in the air, you’re going to get sick no matter what.”

Although he said he doesn’t believe the fatality numbers broadcast in the media, Herdt explained people should have the right to take the risk if they so choose. 

With recovered cases in Wyoming topping 300, Clem said he believed the state’s efforts flattened the curve, preventing hospitals from being overburdened and allowing the state to stockpile ventilators and personal protective equipment for dispersing to areas should the need arise. Now, Wyoming should turn its attention to the next crisis — the economy, he said.

“We haven’t gone off the rails in suppressing our economy, but I think we’ve gone too far,” Clem explained. “I’m reminded that our health experts are not economic experts, and we need to listen to both.”

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Wyoming Lawmaker Calls on Gordon to Reopen Schools and Businesses

in News/Coronavirus

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Gillette legislator Scott Clem took to Facebook on Tuesday to ask Governor Gordon to reconsider his recent mandates closing schools and some businesses to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Clem argued that the orders are an infringement upon individual liberties and may do more damage than the disease itself.

“We need a clear path forward and, shutting down the economy and halting civil liberties for the next 4-8 weeks isn’t it,” Clem wrote on his Facebook page.

“The ‘cure,’ as it’s disengenuously [sic] called, is doing more damage than the disease,” he wrote.

In an email to Gordon, Clem said he didn’t want the virus to take any lives in the state but there is a balance that needed to be considered.

“We must consider that lives are also damaged or even lost by our present efforts to slow the spread,” he wrote. 

“Forced business closures and self-isolation will result in permanently lost jobs, bankruptcies, suicides, increased mental health conditions, increased crime, loss of liberty, a decrease in government revenues, an increase in utilization of government resources, and an increase in domestic disputes among others,” the legislator said.

Clem suggested Gordon change course stating that he didn’t see the governor’s “end-game.”

“I am suggesting you develop plans to send people back to work and back to school, while directing state resources to bolster our medical community as we deal with the influx of those who need care,” he wrote.

At a press conference on Monday hosted by the governor, Wyoming Medical Society President David Wheeler disagreed with the governor’s reluctance to issue more restrictive orders.

“We hope that we don’t wait until the ERs are full of gasping people because by then it’s too late,” he said. “A shelter in place, we won’t avoid catastrophe if we don’t get ahead of it. Every municipality that (hasn’t issued an order), they wait too long, you lose two times as many people as you would’ve.”

In a series of tweets to her 10 million followers on Tuesday, progressive TV news host Rachel Maddow quoted from a Casper Star-Tribune article illustrating the differences between Wheeler and Gordon at that press conference.

“If we don’t act now, it’s certain we’ll use up available supplies in weeks,” said the head of the Wyoming Medical Society. He spoke after Gordon and urged that the governor adopt the very order Gordon had just expressed opposition to,” Maddow tweeted.

Clem said the state should consider a special session to address the issue. 

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