Wyoming Republican Party censures member for PAC support

September 17, 2020 GMT

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Republican Party has voted to censure a member of the Natrona County delegation for her role in founding a nonpartisan political action committee that gave money to some Democratic candidates across the state.

State committeewoman JoAnn True became the first person censured by members of her party in years after they voted 36-25 over the weekend, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

“A censure is nothing more than than a line item in the minutes of the meeting,” former Wyoming Republican National Committeewoman Marti Halverson told The Associated Press on Thursday. Halverson’s term just ended this year but she was at the meeting when True was censured.

Halverson noted the last time the party censured someone was in 2014 when then-Gov. Matt Mead was censured after he sponsored a piece of legislation that the Wyoming Supreme Court later ruled was unconstitutional.

True founded the Cowgirl Run Fund, which aimed at increasing female representation in office, regardless of political affiliation. The fund is also backing numerous women for nonpartisan positions in municipal and county government.

The GOP ultimately censured True because of the committee’s support for 13 Democratic candidates in the state, several of whom are competing against Republicans this upcoming election.

“They voted for this action due to Joann’s commitment, in her personal and private life, to encourage women to become involved in politics in Wyoming,” Natrona County Republican Party Chairman Joe McGinley said Monday. “I guess encouraging women to become involved is seen as a threat to a majority of the State Party Central Committee.”

It is not unusual for political action committees to support candidates of both parties. Cowgirl Run Fund co-founder Jen Simon said the group has supported candidates running in opposite parties for the same seat like it did when it backed both Democrat Britney Wallesch and Republican Erin Johnson in Senate District 6.

“Gender is what I believe is the flashpoint here,” Cowgirl Run Fund co-founder Jen Simon said. “Plenty of other PACs give in a bipartisan fashion, and plenty of PACs have made efforts to unseat incumbents this cycle.”

“In the spring, JoAnn established the Cowgirl Run Fund, which was designed to increase women involvement and support for female politicians in Wyoming - what’s not to like,” Halverson said. “What rubbed us the wrong way is the fact that she endorsed and funded four Democratic women, against four incumbent Republicans, even in part of the state where a Republican woman was running against a Democratic woman and the Democratic woman was endorsed.”

True had no other details and told the Star-Tribune in a text message that she was working with her attorney to gather more information.

McGinley said the Natrona County GOP has no immediate action plan to address the censure, but does plan to update its members on additional action at its next central committee meeting scheduled Sept. 28.