Bouchard will remain in U.S. House race
CASPER – Wyoming Sen. Anthony Bouchard says he is staying in the U.S. House race following the disclosure that he impregnated a 14-year-old when he was 18, striking a defiant tone at the possibility that he could face repercussions in the Wyoming Legislature.
“They’re gonna censure me for (what I did) 37 years ago? That’d be great,” he said. “Do it. Bring it on.”
Bouchard has faced a wave of criticism after he acknowledged late Thursday that he had impregnated the girl, whom he married a year later.
But speaking to the Star-Tribune after a Monday legislative meeting in Gillette, Bouchard scoffed at the idea that he might drop out.
“I’m standing strong. I’m not going anywhere,” Bouchard told supporters in a Saturday Facebook live video.
Bouchard disclosed the pregnancy after learning he was going to be the subject of an investigative story, which the U.K’s Daily Mail then published Friday. He offered details about the age of the girl at time, as well as his own age, in a subsequent interview with the Star-Tribune.
Florida’s current age of consent is 18, but it’s unclear what that law was at the time of the pregnancy.
On Monday, Bouchard declined to answer follow up questions about whether he was still in high school at the time the two met.
“I’m not talking anymore about that, about this story,” he said.
It’s unclear whether Bouchard will face repercussions in the Wyoming Legislature, but one member of legislative leadership left open the possibility.
“At this point we’re looking into it,” Dan Dockstader, president of the Wyoming Senate, said in an email Monday. The Afton Republican declined to provide further details.
As his campaign pushes on, Bouchard and his campaign coordinator, April Poley, said that the rate of campaign donations has increased since the news about the pregnancy broke.
Because campaign donations do not have to be publicly reported as they are received, the Star-Tribune was unable to independently verify the campaign’s claims.
Bouchard has served as a Wyoming state senator since 2017 and is a longtime gun rights advocate. But he gained newfound prominence in January after he became the first Republican in Wyoming to challenge Rep. Liz Cheney for her House seat following her vote to impeach then-President Donald Trump.
On Thursday, Bouchard disclosed the relationship and pregnancy in a Facebook Live video. He told supporters that he went public with the information to get ahead of a story on his past. He insisted that the revelations wouldn’t derail his campaign.
Hours later, Bouchard told the Star-Tribune that he impregnated the girl when she was 14 and he was 18.
“So, bottom line, it’s a story from when I was young, two teenagers, girl gets pregnant,” he said in the Facebook Live video. “You’ve heard those stories before. She was a little younger than me, so it’s like the Romeo and Juliet story.”
Bouchard told the Star-Tribune he legally married the girl when she was 15 and he was 19. He said he was never charged with a crime in connection with the relationship.
The Star-Tribune reached out to the Florida State Bar, Florida State University College of Law, the Florida attorney general, public defenders, current and former prosecutors, and multiple law firms, and none of them was able to offer substantial answers on Florida’s laws concerning age of consent at the time.
On Friday, the U.K.’s Daily Mail published the story that apparently prompted Bouchard to make the Facebook Live video. It cited “an unnamed Republican operative” who is “in the Donald Trump faction of the party.”
“We want this to be known about him because we need to clean the field,” the operative is quoted as saying. “Five other candidates in the primary are going to split the vote in a small place like Wyoming, and Cheney is going to waltz in again.”
Eight candidates have already announced they would challenge Cheney in the 2022 GOP primary.
Most pundits suspect a large field benefits Cheney because the challengers could split the vote.
The Daily Mail story featured an interview with state Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower. Bouchard used a significant part of his latest Facebook Live to criticize his colleague in the Senate.
“He’s one of the guys that supports the deep state,” Bouchard said in the video. “He doesn’t really work for you. Yeah, Ogden, I’m talking about you, buddy. Yeah, I don’t care if you’re gonna push at me. If you push at me, I’m going to fight back.”
Driskill did not hesitate to respond.
“If you’re an honest candidate, you deal with the facts in an honest fashion. And his entire video (Saturday night), the one he did to try to reply to the news source that found out what actually went on, was actually not owning up to what happened. They’re all excuses,” Driskill told the Star-Tribune.
“This isn’t a Romeo and Juliet story,” he continued. “This is an absolute true tragedy.”