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Revisiting the colors of the freedom caucus

— Carol Thurman

To the Editor,

I felt the above referred article needed a response. It would be equal if it got a headline equivalent to the original article:

The colors of the WY Freedom Caucus revisited.

I am writing in regards to the guest column article on March 7, 2024, titled “The true colors of the Wyoming Freedom Caucus” by Khale D. Lenhart, attorney.

I have met and had discussions with some of the members of the Freedom Caucus, including Rep. John Bear, referred to in the article, and did not sense they were either naive nor uninformed. However, since Mr. Lenhart said John Bear wanted to get rid of the small towns I contacted him to verify whether that was what he said or meant. How enlightening to discover just the opposite. I also assume that Mr. Lenhart must have been there when Rep. Bear spoke, since he did not give credit to the Casper columnist, Rod Miller, who also reported these fallacies and is referred to by Rep Bear.

In an effort for full disclosure, Rep. Bear sent me a transcript of what he actually said: “I just want to address what the good Minority Floor Leader pointed out. He stated that if we don’t support these small towns that they may go away. And I think we should really think about that. If small towns are completely required to receive funding from other large cities or the state itself, should they exist? I’ll tell you right now, I disagree with the Minority Floor Leader.”

I realize Rep. Bear could have worded that clearer since it was rife for misinterpretation, especially for those who want to. It’s also easy to miss sarcasm when you want to. In fact, Rep Bear wrote in response, “So, there was no surprise in columnist Rod Miller latching onto an out-of-context comment, applying a generous coat of selective editing, and trying to embarrass me with something I did not say.”

“So, for the record — the real record, not the one in Rod’s columns — let me lay out what was said during a floor debate on a proposal to increase financial distributions to towns and counties $105 million to $146 million.”

He then said the above quote and further clarified, “My intent was to simply express my disagreement with the idea that our small towns are helpless, requiring state funding from all the bigger towns to even survive. (Nor do I believe, by the way, that Wyoming itself is helpless and doomed without endless borrowed federal funding.) I believe that our small towns are the backbone of our state, that they are proud, self-sufficient and resilient.”

“In other words, it was just about the complete opposite meaning of what Rod Miller attributed to me. Sadly, it is no more than I would expect from him — he did not disappoint.”

“At the end of the day, forewarned is indeed forearmed. We conservatives know what’s coming, so we can generally ignore it. Our Wyoming Freedom Caucus will not be deterred from exposing waste at all levels of government, nor the loss of our society’s moral compass by so many in the name of progress. It is what our voters sent us to Cheyenne to do.”

Everything in quotes are direct quotes from Rep. Bear. I truly believe everyone has a right to their opinion. However, I do not support rewriting truth to make your point. When my kids were small I’d call that a lie. It is not acceptable.

As I reread Mr. Lenhart’s article I realized it was not simply an opinion piece, it was political mud-slinging. I don’t want that to go unaddressed. People who read the newspaper need to know every commentary isn’t true. I don’t believe that the Freedom Caucus are either naive nor uninformed. I realize that we’re in an election season so this kind of thing could happen again. Let us remember the old adage, “Let the buyer beware,” and keep in mind that just because something is in print, doesn’t mean it’s true, it might simply be political mud-slinging!

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