U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman will take aim at one of her favorite targets — the administrative state — in her newly appointed roles on the Judiciary and Natural Resources committees in Washington, the freshman GOP congresswoman told an audience in Jackson last week.

Hageman also spoke to the Wyoming Legislature and promised to return regularly to the Equality State to update constituents. About 40 people attended her Jackson town hall where she spoke and took questions for about an hour, then held an open-ended press gaggle.

She assailed “unelected bureaucrats” who carry out federal policy, called President Joe Biden “the largest human trafficker in U.S. history,” claimed that California was stealing water out of Lake Powell and Lake Mead and said the EPA persecutes people.

Hageman said the Endangered Species Act has “kind of failed,” opened the door to cuts in military spending and said the fate of a government shutdown depends on how the country addresses “the fiscal crisis” of debt and deficit.

Asked whether she would give a $2,500 campaign donation from disgraced congressman George Santos to charity (critics said he contributed $2,900), she demurred. “I didn’t know George had given me a donation of $2,500,” she said.

Members of the Jackson audience said it was refreshing to see one of the state’s delegation at an open town hall after years when such forums were scarce. Hageman promised more.

“My office is open,” she said. “You can call us and ask us questions about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. I will continue to travel around the state as I’m doing today.”

Unelected means unaccountable

Hageman has long criticized government functions carried out by agency administrators, including administrative judges who resolve disputes over how policies and regulations are carried out. “They are not accountable,” she said, because they are not elected.

She didn’t propose an alternative.

She directed ire at southern border policies, saying she had signed papers calling for the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The federal government’s current border policies make President Biden the top human trafficker in the country’s history, she said.

“We have to address the invasion,” she said. “We have to stop it.”

“What I want to do is find solutions so that we can fund our government while also recognizing we’re gonna’ have to change the way we do business.”

U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman

She appeared to accept the premise that one audience member proposed — that it took his son-in-law who immigrated from England three months to get a green card while along the border with Mexico, he said, “you can just walk across [and] you’ll get citizenship.”

“This is where you start losing your society is if you treat one group of people one way and another group of people another way,” Hageman said.

“Eventually you overwhelm the system when you allow the things to happen like what we’re seeing on our southern border,” she said. “It is a tragedy beyond tragedies — the rape, the human trafficking, the little kids, the people who are dying, the people who are drowning.”

The southern border also is where deadly fentanyl is smuggled into the U.S., she said.

An attorney who has worked on water cases, Hageman said a solution to the Colorado River crisis would be for California to build desalination plants to replace river flows with sea water. “We have to force California to stop stealing water out of Lake Powell and Lake Mead,” she said.

“We can figure out that water situation but it shouldn’t be to steal Wyoming’s water,” she said. “We shouldn’t give up our future because they [lower Colorado River Basin states] fail to manage.”

She criticized the EPA’s handling of Afton’s municipal water system that taps an open spring where the agency wants a filter installed. “The EPA, they persecute people,” Hageman said. Wyoming’s Department of Environmental Quality can take care of water quality and pollution problems instead, she said.

ESA ‘kind of failed’

Hageman also took a swipe at the Endangered Species Act.

“If you look at the metrics by which it was supposed to be implemented, it really has kind of failed, right?” she said in Jackson. “Spending money to bring Canadian gray wolves into Wyoming — not an endangered or threatened species in Canada — that was a misdirection of an awful lot of resources.

“Let’s not use the Endangered Species Act as a land grab, which is often what it is used for,” she said, pointing to “critical habitat” designations that restrict some uses of public land.

She twice referred to research that involved shrimp on a treadmill as wasteful spending, employing a popular conservative talking point.

“Our Fish and Wildlife Service studies shrimp on treadmills,” Hageman said. “If you’ve got a government that can do things like that, then you’ve got a government that has too much money.

“The reality is, we don’t need 87,000 people in the [Fish and Wildlife Service’s parent agency] Department of Interior,” she said. The Interior Department says it employs “some 70,000 people” to run 11 bureaus, including the BLM, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs and others.

For more than a decade, Republican critics have saddled the treadmill research with price tags that run as high as $3 million. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not study shrimp on treadmills.

Instead, the National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency that promotes “the progress of science … to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare,” awarded $426,000 for basic research, according to reports and the treadmill builder himself. The grant was to study the effects of pollution and warmer temperatures on Penaeid (named after a Greek river) shrimp.

Harvesting white shrimp, a variety of Penaeid shrimp, was a $274-million business in 2021, according to the fisheries arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Shrimp stressed by pollution and warm water are more susceptible to diseases, according to research.

The original shrimp treadmill cost less than $50. A later version cost more. But combined, they were a shrimp-sized part of the overall food-safety and commercial-fishing study “that can be used toward protecting a key natural resource,” according to the resulting scientific paper.

Gas stoves, too

Hageman referenced other popular GOP bogeymen, including gas stoves that Republicans say the Biden administration wants to ban, perhaps even wrest from the American kitchen. She is backing two measures — the Stove Act and another “to stop Biden from banning gas stoves.”

Hageman acknowledged that some efforts are more symbolic than effective. “We’re pragmatic,” she said, “but we also need to be messaging and signaling to the American people that we’ve got to change course.”

Horton Spitzer questions Harriet Hageman at a rally in Jackson during the campaign in 2022. (Angus M. Thuermer, Jr./WyoFile)

Pragmatism abounds in the Republican-controlled House, she suggested, listing numerous changes that will make debate more robust and politicians more accountable. There will be a minimum of 72 hours to review legislation before voting, she said. Budget bills will be handled agency by agency.

“What I want to do is find solutions so that we can fund our government while also recognizing we’re gonna’ have to change the way we do business,” Hageman said.

Averting government shutdowns “depends on whether people are going to do what is necessary to address the fiscal crisis that we’re in,” she said.

She opened the door to cuts in military spending, saying she was “terribly concerned” about the money being spent in Ukraine and wants an audit.

Hageman opposes term limits because they would reduce legislative power while enhancing that of bureaucrats. She’s working to repeal funding for more IRS employees, wants a law capping the U.S. Supreme Court at nine justices and opposes taxpayer aid to the World Health Organization.

Hageman hopes to be appointed to a panel probing what she said was the weaponization of the Department of Justice.

“We’ve all seen over the last couple of years what has happened with the FBI, with the [National Institutes of Health], with what happened with COVID,” she said. “We know from … the lawsuit filed by Arkansas and Louisiana [about] the disclosure of Fauci and his working with Twitter and the social media companies to not only prohibit us from getting information but also blocking free speech.”

Santos donated?

The group End Citizens United said it mailed Hageman a letter Jan. 19 asking her to donate to charity a $2,900 campaign contribution from GOP Rep. Santos, accused of fabricating his life story while campaigning to represent parts of Long Island.

“Given the long list of lies, likely criminality, and blatant disregard for ethics, transparency, or the truth, we are calling on you to donate George Santos’ tainted money to charity,” the letter said. “Keeping the money or returning it to Santos would be an endorsement of his deception and corruption.”

Asked whether she would donate a $2,500 contribution, she deflected, saying she wasn’t aware he had donated that sum.

Speaking to House lawmakers at the Capitol in Cheyenne, Hageman touted Wyoming independence. “We need to make sure that we’re handling our own fiscal situation here, because the federal government isn’t going to be there to bail us out,” she said. 

“We need to fight for, we need to protect our legacy industries,” Hageman said. “We need to fight for and protect coal, oil and gas, our agricultural industries. We not only provide the energy for this for this state and this country, but we can do so for the world.”

Angus M. Thuermer Jr.

Angus M. Thuermer Jr. is the natural resources reporter for WyoFile. He is a veteran Wyoming reporter and editor with more than 35 years experience in Wyoming. Contact him at angus@wyofile.com or (307)...

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  1. Once you start drinking from the Trump trough, you get addicted to the coolaid and the money. It’s shocking to see a gifted lawyer like Ms Hageman give up on values and ignore people’s real needs and issues. She must have had lots of time to gossip with her new buddies as they wasted a week electing a Speaker. Gonna be a long two years unless real leadership decides to lead.

  2. I understand some of Hageman’s reasoning, she grew up on a ranch. I lived in western Nebraska for 15 years back in the seventies and eighties. I understood why the Ranchers, and farmers were upset with some of the Federal laws, but I also realize the opposite consequences of uncontrolled chemical usage. I was a community health nurse, and was out in the community, I started to observe that cancer was quite common, and there were quite a few teenage boys with testicular cancer. I reported this to the health department in Lincoln Nebraska. They started to investigate and found large levels of pesticides in the well water, and they starter to regulate the chemicals. Unfortunately Hageman and other politicians want to move up the political ladder. They drop their morals , and support the corporations. This is a very greedy, selfish existence. This does not help the normal working people. What Wyoming needs is politicians working for us!!!! Yes we need taxes to run our state, infrastructure, yes we need affordable health care so we don’t over use our hospital E.R’s for their family doctor ,and start closing down the hospitals ,because they go bankrupt, yes we need to respect anyone that may be different, our LGBT community, women, I list women as a group because we are getting out rights taken away, the reason I mention this, because I am 75, grew up when abortions were illegal and BC pills were frowned upon. I am history and know about getting freedom. The seventies was an awakening to freedom, and now we are back to those times, fighting for the same causes we fought for back than, and I’m not going back because of corporate greed in America. Sorry Hageman, I do not agree with your political regime!!! Wake up, work for the people instead of the corporations, who keep getting by without paying taxes.

  3. Does Ms. Hageman know that she was elected to represent all 580,000 Wyoming citizens, not just the special interest groups and “robber barons” she represented as an attorney? Wyoming and the nation have some huge, serious, issues that we face now and into the future and she’s focused on petty greivances with public land and environmental agencies. We have aging and crumbling infrastructure with our roads, bridges, electrical transmission, water, sewer, landfills, and irrigation network, just to name a few. Ask folks in Rawlins how that’s going for them. We have to address these issues or everything just quits working. We have a demographic “bomb” of a huge number of aging baby boomers who are retiring and will need more healthcare and long term and assisted care. Who will care for them, and how will we pay for it? We’re short of water everywhere. Colorado River, Mississippi River, and all over Wyoming. Where are some discussions about serious solutions? All we hear from Ms. Hageman is blame of other states, “stealing” our water, no solutions or alternatives. She hates the ESA. Yet, we are facing huge problems of plummeting Mule Deer and Sage Grouse populations in Wyoming. No acknowledgment of those issues and no solutions. She wants to support and defend our “legacy industries”, coal, oil and gas, and agriculture. All of those are driven by global economics and markets. How is she going to influence those and impact market decisions? This is the best Wyoming can send to Washington to represent us? Pathetic…

  4. Hageman not only drank the coolaid. She’ll fit right in with MTG, Jordan and Boebert.
    God help us…..

  5. Madam Hagaman, as you know water rights are very complex and definitive in the right interpretation,you represented Colorado in a suit against Wyoming for water rights , please can you represent Wyoming and get the water from Jackson lake restored to Wyoming from Idaho.

  6. Hey, this is Wyoming folks home to ranchers, coal miners, loggers, oil field workers, red iron workers, power plant workers, wind turbine installers, trona miners, cowboys, sheep herders, red necks aplenty, veterans, electricians, welders and they make up about 70% of the population – the voters who elected Harriet. Naturally, the 30% who do not agree with Harriet can only expect to be very disappointed in her politics; but the 70% largely agree.
    I watched about 30-40% of Niobrara County sell to “immigrants” from Colorado who sold their farms and ranches and moved to Wyoming where they felt more attuned to the culture; and were immediately accepted since they fit right into the 70% perfectly. Why would anyone from the left move here??? Wyoming is a haven for right oriented people who vote for Harriet.
    It is what is is – Wyoming.

    1. The Wyoming that I moved to was run by the likes of Al Simpson and Mike Sullivan. Todays crop of conspiracy theorists, sexual predators and Freedom(for straight white males)Caucus and the book burning Qanon crowd would have ridden out of their Wyoming on a rail.

  7. What should we expect from somebody who professed to believe the lies about a rigged election in 2020 in order to get elected..

  8. So, as Ms. Hageman touts “Handling our own situation here because the federal government isn’t going to bail us out”, Wyoming is the tenth most federally funded state in the nation. Yes, forty other states are paying Wyoming’s way.

  9. Oh My My .. What an embarrassment Hageman, even among rational Republicans. So many pressing pressing issues facing our country and she wants to change things enshrined in law, impeach the homeland security secretary, and create immigration panic. This is a lady “Trump” with all the same narcissistic behvior. Wake up Wyoming. She grandstanding.

  10. If this is the best Rep. Hageman can do, kvetching to Wyoming residents about California, “The Feds”, nonsense about gas stoves, and a shrimp research story from 2008, may the good Lord help us. On the bright side, she hasn’t castigated androgynous M&Ms.

    At least, not yet.

  11. Well, she’s just parroting typical right wing Republican talking points, but odd that she wants to stymie contributions from the Federal Government when Wyoming accepts so many of them.

    1. You’re right Vicki. Hageman and some of her family accepted ppp money and the loans were forgiven. Right along with Allemand, Rex Rammell, Bouchard, and F. Eathorne. For me but not for thee.

  12. Wyoming got who it voted for, and probably deserves her. That is not a pat on the back, it’s a kick to the rump.

    It took a Hageman to make a Cheney look positively egalitarian , with integrity.

    Wyoming’s Senators , on the other hand…

  13. Let’s hope she succeeds, and accomplishes something for Wyoming. Liz had visions of being first female president I think and forgot all about Wyoming people.

    1. Ms. Hageman has a knack for lying, for being loose with the facts. Nearly everything she said as reported in this article is off the charts crazy. Why do people believe her without question? She enjoys throwing eggs but offers no practical, concrete proposals.

    2. She chose to be honest when gullible boomers wanted her to be a liar.

      Honesty isn’t necessary in the kooky wing of the gop..

  14. Wow! How long since she took office and already knows everything that needs fixin. Very impressive. Not.

  15. Better than our Senators. I appreciate any politician who makes herself available to the public and takes questions. All the more so if they answer them thoughtfully, thoroughly and seemingly honestly, even if I disagree with the political implications.

    While Hageman may rub some the wrong way, she gets my respect for at least showing up. Of course, members of the House of Representatives serve two-year terms so it’s always more likely that Hageman will show up and take questions. Barrasso seems to be in an extended COVID lockdown.

    Running for office and governing aren’t the same. I can excuse the excesses of campaigning. I wish her well but have low expectations.

    1. “Low expectations” about sums up Hageman, right alongside what a disgrace for Wyoming sending this know-nothing to Washington.

  16. Gee, she didn’t seem to have a problem with the wastefulness of down stream users when she sued Wyoming for the benefit of Colorado users. Her ” values” seem pretty situational.