UPDATE, 5:20 on Dec. 10: On Thursday afternoon, Gov. Mark Gordon issued a statement saying Wyoming will not join the Texas lawsuit or file a brief in support of it. In the statement, Gordon said the state was not given sufficient time to properly consider either joining Texas’s motion or supporting states’ briefs. Seventeen states with Republican attorneys general have filed briefs in support of the lawsuit, and six have asked to join Texas in it, according to national media. Twenty states, including three with Republican governors, filed briefs opposing Texas’s lawsuit.
After consultation with Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill, Gordon said, he believes the case could have “unintended consequences relating to a constitutional principle that the State of Wyoming holds dear — that States are sovereign, free to govern themselves.” However, Gordon said he “strongly support[s]” the U.S. Supreme Court hearing Texas’s petition. If the court does so, Wyoming will consider weighing in on the case, he said.
Also on Thursday, Sen. Bo Biteman posted to his official Facebook page that 16 more current or elected state lawmakers had signed on to his letter, bringing the total to 48. Today’s names have been appended to the list at the bottom of this story.
Finally, in Washington D.C., 106 U.S. Congresspeople signed onto their own brief supporting Texas’s lawsuit. Wyoming’s U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney did not. Cheney has previously called for President Trump to prove his claims of electoral fraud or else accept President-elect Joe Biden’s win. —Ed.
Thirty-two sitting or recently elected state lawmakers signed a letter urging Gov. Mark Gordon to engage Wyoming in a lawsuit brought by the Texas attorney general that seeks to overturn the presidential election results of four swing states.
The letter was delivered to the governor’s office on Wednesday, according to his spokesperson. On that same day, 17 states with Republican attorneys general filed briefs supporting Texas’s lawsuit, according to national media.
Seeking consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court, Texas has sued Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan, all key swing states that flipped to President-elect Joe Biden and were critical to his electoral victory over President Donald Trump. The Texas lawsuit accuses those states of using mail and absentee voting illegally.
“Certain officials in the Defendant States presented the pandemic as the justification for ignoring state laws regarding absentee and mail-in voting,” the complaint filed by Texas AG Ken Paxton reads. The Texas lawsuit argues that state’s voters have been “debased” by the election in the four states.
Georgia’s attorney general, also a Republican, called the lawsuit “constitutionally, legally and factually wrong.” Georgia has now conducted both a hand audit and a recount that upheld Biden’s victory there.
The letter to Gordon was circulated to all current and recently elected state lawmakers by Sen. Bo Biteman (R-Sheridan) according to a copy of the email circulating the letter obtained by WyoFile. The governor’s office later provided WyoFile with a list of the lawmakers who had signed it.
The letter echoes the Texas lawsuit’s claims.
It calls on Gordon to direct Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill to “join the State of Texas in this lawsuit immediately in order to protect the sanctity of our election process and to ensure that Wyoming citizens’ vote will not be debased by the actions of the Defendant States.”
The governor had asked Hill to review the lawsuit, Gordon’s spokesperson wrote in a statement.
“The Governor has asked the Attorney General to consider the matter and possible actions Wyoming could take,” Gordon’s spokesperson Michael Pearlman wrote. “The Texas lawsuit, if it is taken up by the Supreme Court, will provide the highest Court an opportunity to review concerns about the outcome of the election in four states.”
Unlike in most states, Wyoming’s attorney general is appointed by the governor, not elected by the public. Gordon appointed Hill to the job when he took office.
“The Governor believes that fair and lawful elections are essential to our democracy,” Pearlman wrote, “but it should be noted that this lawsuit is operating on a short timeline and Wyoming did not receive advance notice to be able to thoroughly review the filing before today.”
Ten sitting state senators, including some in leadership roles, signed the letter. Senate Majority Floor Leader Dan Dockstader (R-Afton) and Senate Vice President Ogden Driskill (R-Devils Tower) both signed the letter. The Republican Senate caucus elected Dockstader senate president for the 2021-2022 Legislature, and elected Driskill to Dockstader’s current role.
Two senator-elects signed the letter. Twelve current state representatives signed the letter, including Rep. Mike Greear (R-Worland), whom House Republicans elected speaker pro tempore.
Biteman also circulated the letter to Secretary of State Ed Buchanan, State Treasurer Curt Meier and State Auditor Kristi Racines. None of their signatures appeared on the list provided to WyoFile by the governor’s office. Biteman did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday afternoon.
Buchanan, Wyoming’s top election official, is also considering Texas’s lawsuit.
“The Secretary has been in discussions much of the day on the issue of the Texas request before the Supreme Court,” Communications and Policy Director Monique Meese wrote in an email to WyoFile. “He is currently reviewing the materials the State of Texas submitted to the Court in order to be able to more fully respond.”
Texas’s lawsuit asks the Supreme Court to delay the four states’ certifications of their elections, which have a Dec. 14 deadline, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Election officials in all four states, and indeed in every state, according to a New York Times review, have said there is no evidence of widespread voting fraud.
Both Gordon and Buchanan have touted Wyoming’s success at carrying out its election amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since media organizations reported that Trump was projected to lose the election, however, the president has launched a wide ranging offensive to overturn the results, including pressuring some state officials to try and overturn the election.
The list of states joining the lawsuit include Wyoming’s neighbors Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah.
“Wow! At least 17 States have joined Texas in the extraordinary case against the greatest Election Fraud in the history of the United States,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Wednesday evening. “Thank you!”
Twitter fact checkers labeled Trump’s claim of election fraud as disputed.
Along with Biteman’s letter, the Wyoming Republican Party has also put out a statement urging Gordon and Hill to join the lawsuit. The statement included an image with “GOD BLESS Texas,” imposed on an outline of that state.
Some legal and election experts have derided the lawsuit as a long shot and a publicity stunt — the Texas AG is under indictment for securities fraud and under federal investigation for bribery, according to the Texas Tribune.
“This is a press release masquerading as a lawsuit,” University of California Irvine election law expert Richard Hasen told NPR. “What utter garbage. Dangerous garbage, but garbage,” the professor said.
However, experts also note that lawsuits filed by one state against another have a unique ability to draw U.S. Supreme Court attention.
The lawsuit makes the Texas AG’s intentions fairly clear. If all four states’ elections are in doubt, Trump would have the majority of the remaining electoral college votes, it states.
“Alternatively, if Defendant States are unable to certify 37 or more electors,” it reads, “neither candidate will have a majority in the Electoral College, in which case the election would devolve to the U.S. House of Representatives under the Twelfth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
Below is the complete list of current and recently-elected lawmakers who signed the letter on Dec. 9, according to the governor’s office, and a draft of the letter obtained by WyoFile:
Sen. Bo Biteman (R-Sheridan)
Senate Majority Floor Leader Dan Dockstader (R-Afton)
Senate Vice President Ogden Driskill (R-Devils Tower)
Sen. Cheri Steinmetz (R-Lingle)
Sen. Dave Kinskey (R-Sheridan)
Sen. Larry Hicks (R-Baggs)
Sen. Glenn Moniz (R-Laramie)
Sen. Affie Ellis (R-Cheyenne)
Sen. Lynn Hutchings (R-Cheyenne)
Sen. Tom James (R-Rock Springs)
Sen. Anthony Bouchard (R-Cheyenne)
Senator-elect Troy McKeown (R-Gillette)
Senator-elect Tim French (R-Cody)
Rep. and Senator-elect Tim Salazar (R-Dubois)
Rep. Mike Greear (R-Worland)
Rep. Tom Walters (R-Casper)
Rep. Dan Laursen (R-Powell)
Rep. Clarence Styvar (R-Cheyenne)
Rep. Landon Brown (R-Cheyenne)
Rep. Bill Henderson (R-Cheyenne)
Rep. Scott Clem (R-Gillette)
Rep. David Miller (R-Riverton)
Rep. Chuck Gray (R-Casper)
Rep. Mark Jennings (R-Sheridan)
Rep. Mark Kinner (R-Sheridan)
Representative-elect Mark Baker (R-Rock Springs)
Representative-elect John Bear (R-Gillette)
Representative-elect Scott Heiner (R-Green River)
Representative-elect Ocean Andrew (R-Jelm)
Representative-elect Jeremy Haroldson (R-Wheatland)
Representative-elect Rachel Rodriguez-Williams (R-Cody)
Representative-elect Chip Neiman (R-Hulett)
The following lawmakers signed on to the letter Dec. 10, according to a Facebook post from Biteman:
Senate President Drew Perkins (R-Casper)
Sen. Wyatt Agar (R-Thermopolis)
Sen. Brian Boner (R-Douglas)
Sen. Wendy Schuler (R-Evanston)
Senator-elect John Kolb (R-Rock Springs)
Senator-elect Ed Cooper (R-Ten Sleep)
Rep. Aaron Clausen (R-Douglas)
Rep. John Winter (R-Thermopolis)
Rep. Christopher Knapp (R-Gillette)
Rep. Jim Blackburn (R-Cheyenne)
Rep. Hans Hunt (R-Newcastle)
Rep. Sue Wilson (R-Cheyenne)
Rep. Sandy Newsome (R-Cody)
Rep. Tim Hallinan (R-Gillette)
Representative-elect Bob Wharff (R-Evanston)
Representative-elect Pepper Ottman (R-Riverton)