A secretive political action committee with distant ties to former President Donald Trump appears to be supporting state Rep. Chuck Gray (R-Casper) in the race to defeat U.S. Congresswoman Liz Cheney in next year’s Republican primary.
The organization, “Protect Wyoming Values PAC,” officially filed with the Federal Elections Commission earlier this month. It has since launched a Facebook and text message campaign that thus far has offered support only for Gray in his campaign against the third-term congresswoman. Seven candidates have announced their bids to challenge Cheney.
“Wyoming has been the topic of discussion in national politics, but not for good reason,” the group wrote in a recent advertisement on its Facebook page. “Even though Wyoming is Trump Country, Wyoming’s current Congresswoman is leading the team of Never Trump, Establishment Misfits. It’s embarrassing for Wyoming and out-of-touch with Wyoming Voters and Values. We need a Pro-Trump, MAGA Warrior like Chuck Gray to put Wyoming First and fight for us in Washington!”
Gray declined to comment.
Public filings offer little indication as to who is behind the PAC. The organization lists no local officers on its filings with the Federal Elections Commission, and boasts a Teton County phone number. When called for additional information, the number went straight to a Google voicemail box.
That same number, according to documents from the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office, belongs to a registered agent located at 30 N. Gould St. in Sheridan. That address is commonly used as a mail-forwarding address by various shell companies and political organizations.
As a newly formed PAC, there is little financial information to indicate who is backing the organization and why. However, public filings list the organization’s treasurer as Charles Gantt.
Gantt, whose compliance firm worked closely with Mitt Romney and Trump’s presidential campaigns, is senior vice president for the Massachusetts-based fundraising firm Red Curve Solutions — a top vendor of the Republican National Committee and the former president, according to campaign finance reports.
Gantt has played a role in backing numerous conservative organizations and candidates around the country, including in New Mexico.
The PAC’s website also shares an IP address with other websites for conservative organizations and candidates around the country, including South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and the Republican National Committee’s election integrity working group, which Wyoming Republican Party Chairman Frank Eathorne is a member of.
Also sharing that IP address is Florida resident Christian Ziegler — a top figure in that state’s conservative politics and a friend of Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who has expressed an interest in the race to defeat Cheney.
Ziegler has also been linked to out-of-state conservative activism. Ziegler’s consulting firm, Microtargeted Media, is also among the websites listed at that IP address.
It is unclear whether Lewandowski is directly tied to the PAC. Lewandowski has kept tabs on the race in Wyoming, and has been raising money to primary Cheney through his “Fight Back America PAC,” Axios reported in January.
The backers of the PAC will likely be made public with the FEC’s next filing deadline on July 15.
Representatives for Cheney declined comment.
Secretive PACs are nothing new in Wyoming’s elections. In the 2018 gubernatorial elections, a secretive PAC called Wyoming Friends of Coal emerged late in the race to oppose then-candidate Mark Gordon. That led later calls for campaign finance reform in Wyoming.
Conversations about campaign finance reform have continued into the 2021 interim session. The Joint Committee on Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions is expected to take up the subject at its next meeting, which has not yet been scheduled.