GILLETTE — The executive committee of the Campbell County Republican Party Central Committee is concerned that the Wyoming GOP is intentionally trying to keep women out of politics.
The committee sent a letter last week to the state Republican Party executive committee, criticizing it for not doing anything about a Park County precinct committeeman who used vulgar language toward a state senator last month and pointing out that it was quick to censure a Republican woman last fall.
The letter was sent last week. No mention was made of the letter at a Monday meeting of the executive committee, said Campbell County state committeewoman Heidi Gross.
“It does surprise me that absolutely nothing was said about it,” she said. “Campbell County is the third largest county in the state. When our party sends a letter … they should at least acknowledge they received it.”
The letter calls out the Wyoming GOP for being inconsistent when it comes to disciplining elected officials.
“We are concerned the Wyoming Republican Party’s misogynistic actions are calculated to keep women out of Wyoming politics,” the letter reads.
In September, Troy Bray, a precinct committeeman from Park County wrote an email to Sen. Tara Nethercott. He referenced her handling of a bill that died in the last legislative session that would have prohibited the state from requiring COVID-19 vaccines. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-1 against the bill in March. Nethercott, a Cheyenne Republican and lawyer, is the chairwoman of the committee.
In the email, Bray wrote:
“I would just like to express to you how I feel about your handling of the bill that would already have negated Biden’s dictatorial actions for Wyoming’s citizens. You have never been my favorite person, but you have made a lasting enemy of me with these actions. Your shortsightedness and ignorance are astounding, and only your moral turpitude can compete with them as your defining character feature.
“If I were as despicable a person as you, I would kill myself to rid the world of myself. You sicken me. Thank you for ensuring that the people of Wyoming are subjected to tyranny once again. F--- YOU C---.”
Since that time, the state GOP has not taken any disciplinary action against Bray.
“The silence on the word choices, and the demeaning nature of the communications is deafening, and it shows the Wyoming Republican Party’s attitude toward women,” the letter reads.
The official response of the state GOP has been that “the matter is a local matter, and should be handled by the local party.”
Earlier this month, the Park County Republican Party addressed Bray’s email in an executive session, after which Bray said he still held his position, the Cody Enterprise reported.
The local GOP contrasted that with JoAnn True, a Natrona County state committee woman who was censured by the state GOP for her involvement with a political action committee committed to electing female candidates from both major parties.
True founded the Cowgirl Run Fund with the goal of increasing the number of women in elected seats, regardless of their political affiliation. The fund also backed numerous women for nonpartisan positions in municipal and county government in the 2020 election.
Gross said she was “very surprised” that the state GOP didn’t censure Bray, especially since it was so quick to censure True. She said the party has “a double standard,” and is “very biased” in its responses.
“Unfortunately I think our (state) Republican Party has become selective in the things they address,” she said. “If your comments fit their narrative, that’s fine, and if it doesn’t … you’re called a RINO.”
“We would urge the Wyoming Republican Party State Central Committee to do the right thing and 1) encourage women at all levels to participate in the political process, 2) stand up for elected women who are verbally abused, and 3) make it clear that asking for someone to commit suicide and calling them F------ C----, is unacceptable and will be dealt with in the harshest possible manner,” the letter reads.
Words matter, Gross said, and they have even more weight when coming from elected officials. Bray’s words, as well as the state party’s inaction, will make men and women think twice about getting involved in politics.
“It’ll discourage good people from running for public office, and I think that would be a real shame,” she said.
The letter was signed by the Campbell County GOP executive committee, which includes chair Heather Herr, vice-chair Sam Clikeman, Gross, state committeeman Tom Lubnau, Charlene Camblin and Alison Gee.
The letter demonstrates a shift in the philosophy of the local GOP central committee.
In October 2020, in light of the state GOP censuring True, a resolution condemning the state party’s actions failed on a 13-33 vote.
The resolution cited the Wyoming Republican Party’s platform on freedom of speech, which is one’s freedom to “express his or her beliefs, ideas and opinions without fear of retaliation, censorship or legal sanction by government.”
Camblin called it “extremely wrong,” and her husband Doug worried that the same thing could happen to someone in Campbell County.
The makeup of the central committee in October 2020 was very different from what it is now. The resolution failed on a 13-33 vote.
“The state party has every right to express their disapproval of actions” of someone in the party, said Barb Luthy, who was the party secretary at the time.
Then-state committeewoman Janet Mader said she attended the meeting where True was censured, and while she doesn’t agree with “the way this process went down,” True is supposed to represent the Republican Party.