CASPER — A complaint filed Friday with the Wyoming GOP claims four county-level Republican parties violated bylaws, raising further questions about whether state party leaders have been selectively enforcing rules at the expense of traditional conservatives.
Gail Symons, a Sheridan Republican and the woman behind the nonpartisan blog Civics307, claimed GOP organizations in Sheridan, Sublette, Albany and Crook counties committed minor violations of party rules. Her complaint comes as Laramie County Republicans face the prospect of losing most of their delegation over a different rules infraction.
“I urge the Party to take more appropriate action in the form of admonishment with the requirement that more care be taken to ensure compliance rather than the heavy handed and disproportionate response of not seating delegations,” Symons wrote in her complaint.
Symons filed the complaint with Kathy Russell, the executive director of the state party and Frank Eathorne, chairman of the state party.
The complaint is over small, likely unintentional, breaches in bylaws, but is an example of the canyon that divides the traditional Republicans and the hard-line conservatives who lead Wyoming’s GOP.
The Laramie County GOP admittedly broke rules at its county convention, which has puts the group at risk of losing most of its delegates at next week’s state Republican convention. Because Laramie County is one of a small number of county-level groups that have clashed with state party leaders, insiders pushed back against the impending punishment by noting that other counties broke rules but aren’t facing any consequences.
State GOP leaders responded by noting that no one had filed a complaint against any other counties than Laramie, apparently prompting Symons to act.
The complaint alleges, among other things, that the county Republican parties in Albany, Crook and Sublette failed to notify their respective county clerks about when they would hold their county conventions, which is required under state bylaws.
In addition, Symons wrote that “no nominations were allowed from the floor” at the Sublette County Republican convention, which is also a violation of bylaws.
“There is no reason to believe that the violations of by-laws for the five counties, including Laramie County, were a deliberate attempt to circumvent or undermine the integrity of the processes,” Symons wrote.
Rule breaking has not been scrutinized to this extent in the past, but there’s been a new emphasis put on it this year within the state and county-level Republican parties.
The number of delegates that each county gets at the state convention is based on its population, and Laramie is the most populous in the state. But if the Laramie party loses most of its delegates, it will end up with less voting power than Niobrara, the county with the smallest population in Wyoming.
The size of a county party’s delegation ties directly to its voting power at the state Republican convention, which is set to begin Thursday. The convention is held to vote on party platforms, resolutions and rules. The decisions made and adopted at the convention can influence the state’s politics — including which bills are brought to the Wyoming Legislature.
“Should a decision be made to not seat that delegation, the Convention will be conducted without proportional representation for 27.5 percent of the registered Republicans in the state,” Symons wrote. “That certainly undermines the State Party position of representing Wyoming Republicans.”
Symons added that she is willing to recruit registered Republican from the counties in question to file a complaint if she is not allowed to on their behalf.
Eathorne said Friday afternoon that he does not have time to look at the complaint until the weekend.