by Mike Pyatt
A dose of Solomon’s wisdom would be welcome. This controversy regarding Natrona County GOP Chair, Bonnie Foster’s apparent primary endorsement of Pat Sweeney, candidate for HD 58, who’s apposing the incumbent Tom Reeder, is still unresolved in the mind of some in the Natrona County GOP party. Reeder has been at odds with Foster over issues since last year, at the State Convention at Casper College, when Reeder filed a complaint with the State Central Committee, regarding Foster’s administration of the 2015, election of officers, and a dispute over a proxy ballot from a Casper physician, that was personally received and delivered by Tom Reeder. Chairman Foster insisted that she already received his ballot. According to Reeder, he suggested they phone the physician to clarify the matter. Foster relented, and she shredded the invalid proxy, she held. In that same election, more ballots were tallied than potential voters. Ultimately, the votes were certified by the Natrona County clerk.
At issue, the May 26, 2016, press release issued by the Sweeney campaign, which was authored by Ball Advertising. On the original, it listed, “Foster, Bonnie Chair NC, GOP.” as “contact.” To many casual observers, an endorsement seemed obvious. Tom Reeder complained to the Wyoming State GOP Executive Committee, maintaining it appeared that Foster supported a primary candidate. To “wrap up” this matter, an email was distributed by the GOP’s legal counsel, Mitchell H. Edwards, explaining their investigation, and the circuitous route of the “press release.” Edwards stated, “After following up on the matter, it appears that the issue was a misunderstanding.” Concluding, “It is my opinion that no laws were violated by the Natrona County Republican Party or any of its officers. It appears that this occurrence was a misunderstanding created by the simple forwarding of a press release originally sent by Ball Advertising.” To put the matter to rest, Edwards added, “Through further communication to Mr. Reeder and to the Natrona County Central Committee the misunderstanding has been cleared up.” Another active Natrona County GOP member, after reading the original press release, commented, “This is in such poor taste and a blatant attempt to promote Pat Sweeney, especially with your name on it , Bonnie.” Not everyone embraced the State GOP narrative.
According to Tom Reeder, it hasn’t been cleared up to his satisfaction. A copy of Bonnie Foster’s letter of “apology” to Reeder was obtained. He didn’t accept the letter claiming “confusion” as an apology for her mistake. “That’s an important part of integrity to admit when wrong,” Reeder commented. The document that she sent to others on 06/18/16, was different that the document she sent out on 5/26/16. Interesting? Foster dismissed his claim. According to GOP Executive Committee Chairman, Matt Micheli acknowledged she apologized for “creating an atmosphere of misunderstanding.” He spoke with both parties. Foster claimed she wasn’t the contact person for Sweeney, denying any association with his campaign. Foster’s confrontational style is not her most endearing quality. For example, her adolescent post election 2015, comment, on Facebook, read, “We won!! We kicked their butt!!! YAY!!!” Her indecorous comments outraged many. Those comments only drive a wedge in the party. Chair Foster didn’t recall her tawdry post. Political amnesia?
Attorney Mitch Edwards determined Foster hadn’t violated any laws. Any ethical breaches? According to Matt Micheli, the issue of GOP County officials remaining neutral during primaries, will be on the agenda for their next meeting. He confessed his options were limited beyond those communicated in Attorney Edwards’s opinion. A deep cleavage exists in the GOP party statewide between staunch conservatives, and those who are seemingly of an establishment bent. Further proof that the “R” behind any candidate should be thoroughly scrutinized.
Is it coincidental that immediately after Chuck Gray announced his bid for GOP HD 57, that City Councilman, Ray Pacheco, announced he’d run for HD 57? Foster credited Tom Lockhart for personally recruiting Pacheco. Earlier this primary season, Ben Carson supporters distributed free copies of his book, Rx For America, with prior Ramkota approval, outside the conference hall, as the Natrona County GOP held its monthly meeting. Bonnie Foster needlessly confronted a member of the Carson team, insisting such activity violated “GOP rules.” What rules? When challenged to cite the rule, Foster bolted. There’s no “rule.” This isn’t Chicago.
Is it time to oust Foster from her Chair? Do we want such another county chairman? Checking political mischief’s our job. What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email’s firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s Note: Read Part One, Political Mischief In Natrona County GOP?