All citizen legislators have conflicts of some kind

Submitted by Alan Simpson
Posted 5/10/22

Dear Editor:

I am most interested in the mumblings from our Park County Republican “leaders” about the “purge” with regard to our own state Sen. (R.J.) Kost — …

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All citizen legislators have conflicts of some kind


Dear Editor:

I am most interested in the mumblings from our Park County Republican “leaders” about the “purge” with regard to our own state Sen. (R.J.) Kost — tagging him with a “conflict of interest” because he served as a hospital board trustee. I served in the Wyoming Legislature for 13 years and tried desperately to pass a “Conflict of Interest” law in this state. I failed miserably each time because the “canned response” was always, “Oh no, we all know each other and know what we do. We’re all “citizen legislators” so we know who owns what, and what businesses, enterprises, and properties each of us is involved in and what we’re up to.” 

I don’t buy any of that — now or then — because I saw what happened in my 13 years — and how it was an array of conflicts that would choke a horse. The whole system is shot through, and the reason is very simple. All of us were citizen legislators — they all had their businesses and their biases, and you’re never going to get anything out of the Legislature to change it.

Try these on for size: Teachers and administrators who voted to expand the school foundation program and all of the elements of that. There were small business owners fighting sales tax increases; there were union officials going toe to toe on the right to work laws; medical doctors (MDs) fighting competition from Doctors of Osteopathy (DOs); auto dealers fighting against license fee increases; folks in agriculture, cattlemen, sheep ranchers, stock growers, who fought for their exemptions from sales and use taxes; liquor dealers crafting new regulations to ease their business operations; stockholders and employees of the Union Pacific Railroad scrapping about trona easements or livestock right of ways; contractors working over the DOT; retirees and senior citizens assuring that the Wyoming Retirement System would be there for them; veterans (and I am one) — some always fighting for tax exemptions — and not one peep out of anyone ever moaning about  “conflict of interest.”

The real reason “they” are after R.J. Kost, is that Park County Central Committee Executive Committee and their followers don’t like him. Ask our “dear leader” of the state party — known as the registered Oath Keeper and the 23 county chairmen who meekly bow to his orders on who to ensure next. “They” probably have a primary opponent picked out for him — which flies in the face of the “unwritten rule” that the party stays out of primary elections. Ho, ho on that one. See Cheney vs. Hageman — good stuff.

Furthermore, Sen. Kost has a grave flaw, he uses his head, does his homework, thinks things over, listens to debate, makes his own thoughtful decisions for the good of the people of Park County and Wyoming, and not for just his party. He is no part of the crowd, “If you don’t know vote No.” They also don’t like him because he is not “pure” enough. There was a ragged madman during my lifetime who took the world to war for Nazi Germany because things weren’t “pure” enough for him — from race to ideology.

This concept of degree of “purity” is most disturbing because when a person is elected to the Legislature they represent the people of the County of Park, State of Wyoming first, not their political party. There is a fine distinction there, and that’s why Wyoming has always been ahead of every other state in the country — because Democrats and Republicans have always worked on legislation together, made compromises, and made things work for the good of Wyoming and its citizens, and not for the “pure” and rigid platforms and rambling resolutions of the parties.

So — let’s find out who the next person is who will be censured or ousted. I’m sure they’ll have another person in their crosshairs at any latter meeting with only limited activity or comments from others, which is pretty well dampened down during their almost constant meetings.

Alan K. Simpson

Precinct Committeeman of 25-1

U.S. Senator, Wyoming (ret.)