New rules expose infighting among Wyoming Republicans

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — New Wyoming Republican Party rules calling for disciplinary action against party members who break from the state party leadership’s views have exposed a rift between state and county GOP leaders.

The new rules come after some county party leaders, such as Natrona County GOP Chairman Joe McGinley, criticized the state party’s actions.

McGinley and Laramie County GOP Chairwoman Dani Olsen recently attracted intense scrutiny from state party leadership for opposing several actions. Olsen wrote a column alleging corruption by party insiders and both supported resolutions seen by many as openly defiant of the state leadership.

Members of the party’s state central committee approved their own resolutions last weekend. The committee rejected proposals by Natrona County GOP officials seeking to protect free speech, the Casper Star-Tribune reports.

The resolutions state that the First Amendment “does not supersede the conduct and expression within the confines of a private organization.”

Violating the party’s principles, bylaws or rules of order, they add, “could subject a fellow Republican to a disciplinary committee review or disciplinary action.”

“We’re limited with the tools we have to show our disagreement and, based on their anti-free speech resolutions, now face disciplinary action for not speaking in unity,” Olsen said. “We all have a fine line we’re trying to walk, making sure we’re not coming too close to the extreme side or getting too far away from it.”

Joann True, state committeewoman for the Natrona County Republicans, called the resolutions “horrifying.”

“To watch people go up there and speak against transparency and the ability for people to go up there and express an opinion without repercussions is just absolutely baffling,” she said. “It’s a little embarrassing to walk out of there and have people read that knowing I’m a member of the central committee.”

McGinley said state GOP officials have meanwhile approved secret investigations into him and other county leaders for activities deemed “detrimental to the party.”

State GOP officials did not respond to several requests for comment about any such investigations but in a news release Wednesday seemed to address the leak of news about the investigations’ existence.

“The Wyoming Republican Party is governed by its bylaws and Robert’s Rules of Order,” the release stated. “Some processes are marked as strictly confidential. While the majority of the body has respected this rule, a few members of the State Central Committee don’t seem to understand this rule.”

Phone and email messages left for party officials Friday were not immediately returned.

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Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com