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Politics in the Pro-Tempore's Office

February 21, 2024

The bill was House Joint Resolution 2. It was written by far-left Representative and UW law professor, Democrat Ken Chestek of Laramie, Wyoming. Essentially, the bill would include Wyoming in a petition for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban what Democrats call dark money in politics. Dark money, as it is defined by Ken Chestek and his political action group Wyoming Promise, is campaign money given to mostly Republican candidates by political action committees--many of whom do not have to release their donors to the public. The same donations exist for Democrats, it's just that Chestek's group doesn't usually target them.   

Chestek claimed, in a floor speech to introduce his legislation, that these campaign donations are made possible by a United States Supreme Court decision, Citizens United. The decision literally said that money is free speech; and as such, political contributions made by corporations are as well. The decision had the result of allowing conservative organizations to compete with Democrat funding operations such as the Democracy Alliance, Arabella Advisors and others; who, for years have funneled vast sums of money to a litany of left wing causes and candidates.   

Chestek's bill failed to receive a ⅔ vote in the Wyoming House of Representatives. During Wyoming's budget session, any bill that is not the budget must receive an introduction vote of ⅔ before it can even be discussed.    

That evening, the Wyoming Caucus, a group of far-left Republican legislators, pounced by sending out a blistering email to their followers chiding conservatives for voting against the bill. One such email, purporting to be a recap of Day 2 of the legislative session said, “These bills were designed to         
     address  real threats to the election process such as reporting on campaign finances and allowing Wyoming to make its own laws around whether      
     anonymous out-of-state actors can send mailers attacking politicians in Wyoming.   The members of the Freedom Caucus had the chance to create laws     
     that would enforce their stated positions, but they declined to do so.” 

In other words, according to the Wyoming Caucus, limiting free speech and preventing Wyoming Citizens from participating in the political process is somehow part of the conservative ethos. Furthermore, their insistence on anonymous political writings somehow being illegitimate is laughably preposterous. I’m not surprised that Barry Crago and Clark Stith have forgotten the importance of the Silence Dogood Letters or the Federalist Papers—both of which were written anonymously.    

That email, and several like it, was composed by Rebekah Fitzgerald in the Wyoming House of Representatives Speaker Pro-Tempore's office--located on the gallery level of the House in the Wyoming Capitol. Rep. Clark Stith, the WY Speaker Pro-Tempore, is a vocal member of the Wyoming Caucus. 

The 31 Representatives that make up the Wyoming Caucus have average voting records that side with Democrats 85% of the time. Stith himself votes with his Democrat colleagues 80.16% of the time. Not a conservative record, to say the least. How do I know that the emails in question were written in Stith's office? Because I watched the Wyoming Caucus’s paid political consultant, lobbyist and PAC treasurer Rebekah Fitzgerald walk in and out of it numerous times for a solid week. That, and Cowboy State Politics obtained several videos of her doing so. It is clear that Stith’s office is her base of operations. Pictures and videos are available at CowboyStatePolitics.com.  

To my knowledge, there are no other lobbyists working in the Wyoming Capitol that have access to a House leadership office except Stith’s, nor should they. The reason why members of House Leadership have offices in the first place is to conduct the business of the Wyoming House of Representatives, not to conduct political campaigns.   

In Wyoming, it is against the law for a candidate for public office to campaign on government–either city, county or state–property. It's for good reason too. Essentially, it would amount to using the power of whatever office for political purposes. Fitzgerald works for the Wyoming Caucus PAC, and thus is campaigning for them in the Wyoming House of Representatives. 

A lobbyist works and advocates for private parties and causes. In the House chamber it is against the rules to wear any clothing that depicts a political message. Often, activists wearing shirts for one cause or another are asked to leave the gallery or to cover up the message. It must certainly be, and is, against House rules for a lobbyist to set up shop in an office in the People’s House, no matter what the cause.   

If that weren’t enough, Rebekah Fitzgerald isn’t just the Wyoming Caucus’s political consultant.  According to the Wyoming Secretary of State’s website, since March of 2023, Fitzgerald has been the treasurer of the Wyoming Caucus Political Action Committee. It is a committee formed for the sole purpose of fundraising for the most liberal members of the House. Being in that position, it’s clear that the Speaker Pro-tempore’s office is also being used for political fundraising. 

There are only two people who could have given Rebekah Fitzgerald access to that office. Rep Clark Stith or Wyoming Speaker of the House Albert Sommers. 

Back to the emails. They are the work of Fitzgerald and her company R5 Strategies Group. According to the Wyoming Secretary of State's website, Fitzgerald is a registered lobbyist for R5 Strategies and another political group called “Wyoming FREE.” Wyoming FREE is a political organization focused on liberal politics. Their website contains a laundry list of articles campaigning against dark money and against conservative causes. The treasurer of this group is Republican Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, and former Republican Rep. Shelly Duncan is the group’s president. Duncan is also a lobbyist for the LGBTQ activist organization Wyoming Equality. The director of Wyoming FREE is none other than Rebekah Fitzgerald. 

For a solid week, Fitzgerald and other lobbyist and paid political operatives have been diligently working out of Stith’s office sending out emails to her mailing list and finding new and inventive ways to attack conservatives. All of their emails contain barely half-truths about what transpired in the House.    

Truly, you’d be better off subscribing to email alerts from the Wyoming Democrat party. At least those folks are honest about who they are. And, their lobbyist, their paid political consultant and the treasurer of their PAC is not working out of a legislative office. 

And then there’s what Wyoming Statutes have to say about the Fitzgerald/Wyoming Caucus arrangement. State Statute 9-13-105 (a) clearly prohibits the use of State of Wyoming facilities for political use.  “A public official [Clark Stith], public member or public employee shall not use public funds, time, personnel, facilities or equipment for his private benefit or that of another unless the use is authorized by law.”  Subsection (b) of that statute is even more clear, adding that public facilities shall not be used for “political or campaign activity.”  There is no question that Rebekah Fitzgerald and others are engaged in political activity in the Speaker Pro-Tempore’s office, and that it is clearly prohibited by Wyoming law. In Colorado and other states, violating this law would result in arrest. 

The Wyoming Caucus PAC itself deserves more than a little scrutiny. It functions opposite every other political action committee.  Politicians donate to it and not the other way around. According to the Wyoming Campaign Finance Information System, to date, 16 members of the Wyoming Caucus have donated $24,820.51 to their own PAC. That doesn’t include thousands donated by former liberal legislators and failed left-leaning Republican candidates.  

Clearly, they have enough campaign contributors without having to donate to their own campaigns. The only reason the Wyoming Caucus members would do this is that it’s an investment. They are investing in a political endeavor they believe they’ll personally benefit from. In this way, the Wyoming Caucus functions much more like the Democrats than the Republicans. 

JoAnn True is listed as the chairman of the Wyoming Caucus PAC and Rebekah Fitzgerald is listed as its treasurer—both of whom have been seen in Stith’s Speaker Pro-Tempore office. Cowboy State Politics has both pictures and videos of True repeatedly entering and exiting the office since the legislative session began.    

It’s true that in American politics the left always accuses the right of what they, themselves are doing. Members of the Wyoming Caucus have written numerous op-eds accusing the Wyoming Freedom Caucus of engaging in “Washington D.C. style politics.” In truth, it is the liberal wing of the Republican Party in Wyoming that is doing that very thing. It’s clear they see no problem in their paid lobbyists, PAC officials, and paid political consultants setting up shop in the People’s House. And they don’t seem to have an issue with electioneering in a House Leadership office. It’s unethical and it’s wrong—two words that are synonymous with the Wyoming Caucus. And in Wyoming, what they are doing is against the law.