Joe McCarthy to go on “trial” April 7

Joe McCarthy and two other U.S. Senators will face charges in a mock trial in Cheyenne on April 7, 2013 

On April 7, three former members of the United States senate will go “on trial” in a mock trial in Cheyenne, Wyoming for their alleged roles in the 1954 suicide of a colleague. Senators Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin), Styles Bridges (R-New Hampshire) and Herman Welker (R-Idaho), all deceased, are “charged” with blackmailing Wyoming’s U.S. Senator Lester Hunt. Hunt died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on June 19, 1954.

The trial coincides with the release of the first book-length biography of Senator Hunt. Dying for the Sins of Joe McCarthy: The Suicide of Wyoming Senator Lester Hunt, was written by Rodger McDaniel and published by WordsWorth Publishing Co. of Cody.

Lester Hunt, a Democrat, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1948. He was twice elected governor and twice elected Secretary of State and served in the Wyoming legislature. As Secretary of State, Hunt designed the bucking horse license plate. As Governor he oversaw the Heart Mountain Interment Camp and dozens of programs assisting World War II efforts including the Selective Service. Hunt served in the United States Senate from 1948 until his death in 1954.

Former Senator Alan Simpson wrote the foreword for McDaniel’s book, saying, “When Lester Hunt arrived in Washington in 1949, he witnessed the rising tide of McCarthyism. His was one of the few early voices to call it for what it was.” Speaking of the events leading to Senator Hunt’s suicide Simpson wrote, “What was done to Lester Hunt passed all boundaries of decency and exposed an evil side of politics most would always seek to avoid.”

The trial opens at 1 PM on April 7th at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Retired Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Michael Golden will preside. Former Governor and US Attorney Dave Freudenthal will prosecute. Defense counsel is Diane Lozano, director of the State’s Public Defender Office. A jury of local citizens will hear the case and render a historic verdict.

The public is invited to attend free of charge. McDaniel’s book will be available for sale.

Guy V. Padgett has been with WyoFile since October of 2011. He serves as WyoFile’s operations director

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