Investigation underway into Republican Party elections; no action yet on civil suit

Jon Conrad

EVANSTON — No decisions have been issued in the lawsuit filed against the Uinta County Republican Party, president Elisabeth “Biffy” Jackson, Karl Allred and Lyle and Jana Williams, which alleged the four voted illegally in the party leadership elections held in March.

State legislators – Rep. Danny Eyre and Sen. Wendy Schuler – along with Jon Conrad, Ron Micheli, Clarence and Clara Vranish and former Bear River Mayor Troy Nolan are plaintiffs in the case.

Though the suit requested a decision be made as soon as possible, prior to the Wyoming Republican Party Central Committee meeting in mid-May, the summonses issued to the four defendants and to the Uinta County Republican Party itself provided for a 20-day response time, giving defendants until May 11 to respond. From court documents, it appears that the county Republican party, Jackson and Allred have retained the services of Cheyenne attorney Caleb Conner Wilkins.

In addition to the civil suit, the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation has opened a formal investigation into the matter, at the request of Uinta County Attorney Loretta Howieson-Kallas. An e-mailed statement from Howieson-Kallas in response to questions about an investigation reads, “The Uinta County Clerk determined there was sufficient merit to transfer this matter to my office for investigation and, if appropriate, prosecution. The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation consented to my request that they address the relevant investigation. As this is now an open investigation, no further comment will be issued related to this matter pending final resolution, regardless of what that resolution may be.”

The matter was referred to Uinta County Clerk Amanda Hutchinson’s office after Conrad filed a complaint with the Wyoming Attorney General’s office alleging the leadership elections were invalid because individuals who were not duly elected precinct committeemen and women – Jackson, Allred and the Williamses – were allowed to vote by then chair Lyle Williams. The state decided the conflict was a county matter and referred the complaint back to Hutchinson’s office for investigation. According to the complaint filed in the civil suit, Hutchinson was present at the March leadership elections and informed Williams that according to state statute only precinct committeemen and women can vote; however, Williams opted to let the four vote anyway, which the complaint alleges changed the outcome of the election.

The Williamses, Jackson and Allred, however, have maintained the election was held in accordance with Wyoming Republican Party bylaws, which allow elected officers to vote. In a previous statement to the Herald, Eyre and Schuler said they joined the suit because state statutes on party elections supersede party bylaws and must be followed.

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