A group of prominent Wyoming attorneys and retired judges called on congressional candidate Harriet Hageman to stop spreading misinformation about the 2020 election in a Sept. 12 letter

“We want you to know that we believe your comments about a rigged election were not supportive of the Rule of Law, have contributed to destabilizing our democratic institutions, and were inconsistent with our collective duties as members of the Wyoming bar,” the letter reads. 

Hageman, a natural resources attorney, trounced incumbent U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney in the August primary election to secure the Republican nomination for Wyoming’s sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Shortly before the primary election, Hageman told voters during a candidate forum in Casper that “absolutely the election was rigged. It was rigged to make sure that President Trump could not get reelected.”

Prior to that statement, Hageman had been more circumspect on the campaign trail about the 2020 election, repeating instead that the results were unknown. She appeared to revive that equivocation in her response to the letter. 

“There remain serious questions about that election,” Hageman said in a press release on Thursday morning. She also called the letter a “threat” by her fellow attorneys to file a complaint with the state bar against her. 

The Rule of Law

Lawyers must be members of the Wyoming State Bar to practice in the state, and admission involves taking the oath of attorney — a declaration to “support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Wyoming.” 

The letter argues that making false claims about the presidential election is “contrary to at least the spirit, if not the letter, of the oath you and the rest of us swore upon our admission to the Wyoming bar, as well as other ethical duties and responsibilities owed by all of us as Wyoming lawyers.” 

The state bar association also requires attorneys to abide by the Wyoming Rules of Professional Conduct, which state that attorneys have a “special responsibility for the quality of justice.” The rules also consider “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation” to be professional misconduct. The letter references several of these rules in its argument. 

The 41 attorneys and retired judges that signed onto the letter include retired Chief Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court Michael Golden, former Attorney General Pat Crank, retired Teton County District Court Judge Tim Day, Wyoming State Bar President Chris Hawks and Anna Reeves Olsen, the president-elect of the state bar. 

The signees are part of a larger group of attorneys that informally came together following the Jan. 6 insurrection. The informal coalition is loosely connected over the internet and includes about 80-100 legal professionals, according to Bill Schwartz, a Jackson attorney. 

“Everyone was so appalled and concerned and feeling like we should do something as the guardians of the Rule of Law,” Schwartz said. 

Thirty-four members of the group put their names to an op-ed — originally published in January of 2021 and then again in July of this year — condemning the attack of the U.S. Capitol and applauding Cheney’s defense of the Constitution. 

As was the case then, the drafting of this month’s letter to Hageman was a collaborative effort by the group, according to Schwartz. 

“It would be inappropriate to suggest that this was written by one person or two people or even three people,” Schwartz said. “It takes a long time to get 41 lawyers comfortable with a letter like this.”

Republican candidate for Wyoming’s U.S. House seat Harriet Hageman poses for a photo at an event for the state GOP convention in Sheridan on May 6, 2022. (Maggie Mullen/WyoFile)

In her statement, Hageman accused the group of borrowing a template from The 65 Project, a legal advocacy group that targets attorneys who aided attempts by Trump and his supporters to overturn the 2020 election. The name of the group refers to the number of lawsuits that failed to produce any evidence to support the claim that the election was rigged against the former president. The letter cites some of 65 Project’s work, but Schwartz said the group drafted its argument independently. 

The group did not send the letter to the state bar, according to Schwartz and Crank. 

“The collective thought was to not do that, that we write to her colleague-to-colleague,” Schwartz said, adding that it’s possible, however, that any one of the signees could have sent it to the bar. 

Because such proceedings are confidential, State Bar Executive Director Sharon Wilkinson would neither confirm nor deny that any such complaints had been filed. 

“That’s all confidential under [Wyoming Supreme] Court rules. So we cannot discuss that at all,” Wilkinson said. 

First Amendment 

The Wyoming Republican Party trumpeted Hageman’s statement in a fundraising solicitation to its members Thursday evening. The party has been struggling financially due to a string of lawsuits and withheld dues.

“As a constitutional attorney, I have spent my career fighting for the rights of others, and now a group of my fellow lawyers is trying to squelch my own 1st Amendment rights because they disagree with me,” Hageman said in her press release. 

In its letter, the group said it is not suggesting that her membership in the bar restricts her rights to freely express ideas and opinions. 

“Indeed, whether a lawyer’s demonstrably false statements of fact about an election made in the public square are subject to bar discipline consistent with the 1st Amendment is an interesting issue that does not yet appear to have been settled,” the letter said. 

Hageman did not respond to WyoFile’s request for comment. 

Maggie Mullen

Maggie Mullen reports on state government and politics. Before joining WyoFile in 2022, she spent five years at Wyoming Public Radio.

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  1. It won’t matter as Wyoming will vote for her anyway. Also if she won then the election obviously must not have been rigged.

  2. In park county Trump won hands down but the Republican Party wanted a recount cause the election was rigged .So since it was rigged in park county maybe Biden won ! 😄

  3. Really?
    We should all ignore the facts of ballot stuffing and irregularities in handling and counting that occurred almost nationwide. Maybe not Wyoming, but many other locations. And if we hold a contrary opinion we need to be censored?
    We need many more Hageman’s to stand up and speak their truths.
    Just sayin’ . . .

    1. Your “Just sayin’ ” is just that – opinion and words with not evidence or truth to back it up. This is exactly what Hageman is doing – spreading lies for political gain. Remember the reward for info on election fraud??? last I saw the only people who had collected on that were people who found republicans who had committed election fraud in voting for Trump. Experts and even Trump’s own people have said 2020 was the most secure election ever held.

  4. Personally I am sick of people saying thar misinformation is causing an uprising.
    They can not say for sure it wasn’t rigged. Not talking about the President sun was in itself a way of swaying the election.
    He has not said anything that risks the oath he took.
    These lawyers and judges better think twice about what they say. .

    1. You do know it’s very hard to prove a negative – that it wasn’t rigged. It’s much easier to prove a positive, that it was rigged – which NO ONE has been able to do. And yes, spreading lies have consequences when you have people who vote based on lies and not qualifications.

  5. It sounds like “41prominent Wyoming attorneys and retired judges” either haven’t read, or failed to remember, that the U.S. Constitution specifies only state’s legislatures can promulgate state’s elections laws; NOT the state’s governors or attorney generals as so many did just prior to the 2020 election. Clearly, Harriet Hageman understands that many states’ attorney generals and governors violated their respective “Rule(s) of Law.” Calling-out a crime doesn’t undermine the “Rule of Law.” On the contrary, it brings attention to the fact that all manner of law is infamously being violated in our nation at this point in time!

  6. I am heartened to see that a group of lawyers are concerned about Ms. Hageman. For myself, it is important to believe that lawyers represent facts over political positions, greed and power. Lawyers play a very important part in our society and we need to know they represent facts and honesty over violence and untruth. I believe she should face debarment for sacrificing herself to the far right.

  7. Does WyoFile ever publish a single negative story about a Democrat? Looks like the only negative slants are reserved for Republicans. Okay, CNN.

  8. In every state where the election results were contested by Donald Trump, the counts were certified by Republicans. Let that sink in.

    Trump cried “foul” prior to his win in 2016 saying that if he lost to Hillary, it was because there election was “rigged”. He won the electoral votes although he lost the popular vote by several million.
    If he lost due to fraud, does this mean everyone who won was also guilty of fraud?

    He lost but worse still, our nation has suffered extremely from the deliberate inculcated misinformation.

  9. If Ms. Hageman fees threatened by the contents of the letter, she can alleviate the threat by conforming her statements and conduct to the requirements of the ethics rules governing lawyers. Facts matter. Truth matters. As a society we cannot let those who would subordinate true facts to personal ambition do so without consequence if it violates ethics standards. I applaud and thank those lawyers who took the time and effort to write this very important letter to Ms. Hageman. With such persistence and effort, the rule of law may yet prevail.

  10. Me thinks she would also say that Little Big Horn was fake news, and that her supposed ancestors were not exterminated nor placed on reservations if the GOP Bully pulpit told her to do so. Shame on her, and shame on Wyoming for electing her.

  11. She is functioning like a toddler trying to keep attention of parents without reprimand. The destruction of our democracy lies in the hands of so many incompetent and self indulgent people like her. Before trump she would never have won any primary in Wyoming. She is and always has been a fringe element looking to have her name in lights. Just shameful.

  12. I find the whole election denier field of politicians as a threat to our framework of democracy. I know it sounds like an opinion but now Hageman has pushed the issue and stated that it is a fact. It isn’t a fact it is still very much fiction. I would hope that legally there is some check and balance to a lawyer making statements of this sort,

  13. I believe Ms. Hageman’s statements in question are stupid and untrue. Nevertheless, I would defend them up to the US Supreme Court as ipso facto protected by the 1st Amendment. As to taking away her livelihood with the bar association, again over a 1st. Amendment issue, shame again on these so-called professionals.

  14. Yay! They should keep up the pressure on the “Political Wh***.” She should be threatened with disbarment. That will make her think twice about what she says to whom. She has been a reasonable person in the past so the change of character is strictly for political gain.

  15. It’s simple! Harriet Hageman (R). OK. Each attorney protesting is proud to admit ‘Attorney’ but hesitant to declare (R), (D) or (I). After they disclose there party the discussion will end. I don’t like the result of the election. It is apparent there is no ‘truth’ in our ‘justice’ system! Get over it! Kiss and make up! I want a Republican representative, just not Liz Cheney! Her hated is not what we need for Wyoming. Isn’t she an attorney?

  16. Hageman’s win, based on shameless lies about the election and touting support from the guy who lost it, embarrasses our state. Voters tossed a true conservative for one reason: her truth-telling about the 2020 election. This is appalling and Hageman’s arrival in DC will be met by thoughtful people with the scorn it deserves.

  17. Thank you 41 lawyers. Lies by elected ofhicials, lawyers, or bias or incompetence by judges as recently was evident in the trump and justice need to be called out as you have done. WYOMING Lawyers thank you.

  18. Hageman’s assertion about the election was nothing more than obesiance to Donald Trump. What she doesn’t seem to understand is that she is contributing to the instability of the country and state she professes to love.
    The county clerks in Wyoming early on made it clear to the legislature how insulting they found the assertion that they allowed rigged elections. Electing Chuck Gray further adds to the insult to our own elected clerks.

  19. It is evident that the Wyoming political establishment is very worried that the voters, the People, are demanding their power back through the election of their own candidates, instead of those chosen by Wyoming mini-elites. Once again, if the establishment is so confident in election integrity, then let the People’s candidates prove themselves wrong or maybe even right.

  20. I believe a complaint should be filed with the Wyoming Bar Association. Ms Hageman has traded the rule of law and ethics inherent in the justice system for power and money. The words coming from the Hageman group are just that, words without meaning. The system of laws and lawyers is based on following the facts and honest representation of real events. I am sick and tired of the far right blabbing dishonest opinions that clearly serve their own self interest. As a third generation Republican, I am disgusted with many in the party. They are like 4th grade bullies on the playground.

  21. Sadly, so many Wyoming people seem increasingly enamored with candidates like Harriet Hageman and Chuck Gray; people who get themselves elected by loudly spewing outrageously false information.
    What has happened to what I’ve always thought of as the true Wyoming values of honesty, decency, integrity, honor, and doing what’s right for our neighbors?
    Why is it that Wyoming people have become so easily duped into allowing such absurdities, rubbish, and downright idiocy to be so casually accepted as truth? Isn’t critical thinking skills taught in our schools anymore? These are questions that haunt me and do not bode well for Wyoming’s future.

  22. This letter is almost laughable. The idea that attorneys are saying other attorneys should be disciplined or disbarred for being “dishonest” is the height of hypocrisy. If only honest attorneys were allowed to practice we wouldn’t have any attorneys at all.
    As for Hagemen’s claim of election fraud being “demonstrably false statement of fact” I would only say to her accuser’s….”prove it.” They can no more prove it’s false than she can prove it’s true.

  23. The voters have made their decision, no 41 lawyers can change that. These lawyers preach the Constitution and now they make a mockery of it.

  24. So is this Harriet’s platform representing Wyoming that the election was rigged ? How can you prove it? I wonder if the individuals that are making all these assumptions even know how the system works .

  25. Simple solution for Hageman. Voluntarily rescind her law license and bar menbership then she’s no longer subject to jurisdiction by these groups.
    She doesn’t need a law license to be a member of Congress, unless of course she plans on doing a little “side work”.

  26. I am pleased and reassured that knowledgeable jurists have weighed in to counter false election claims. It is concerning that some candidates around the country have been willing to “sell their souls” supporting misinformation in order to win a political position and enhance their personal power.

  27. Hageman didn’t have the guts to attend the 1/6 insurrection she just used the opportunity to promote herself as a believer in the big lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. Kind of disgusting I think. Poor schmucks that apparently did buy into the big lie and did attend are being sentenced to jails and prisons all the while. Hageman gets herself elected to the Congress of the United States. I don’t expect too much from Hageman promoting Wyoming in Congress as she is only interested in promoting herself.

  28. I read the entirety of the 8-page letter, word for word.
    There is nothing in it that could be called a ” threat ” towards Hageman. Nothing whatsoever. Strong disappointments ? Yes. Any allusion to possible actions to be collectively taken against Hageman ? Zilch . Not even so much as a sideways suggestion.

    What Harriet Hageman’s own response to this letter says, and the storm of noise from the Trumpian cabal at the core of the Wyoming GOP that echoes it and amplifies it , shows plainly that Hageman is derelict in upholding her own oath of duty required of all lawyers admitted to practice in Wyoming. Harriet is crosswise with the truth . 46 of her legal profession peerage found her public statements about the 2020 election to be dishonest. Those lawyers provided ample documentation and precedent to make their case. Hageman’s refusal to disavow her election fraud rhetoric calls her character and integrity as a lawyer into question. It implodes her credibility across the board. She planted her campaign flag on sands of falsehoods.

    Or perhaps best put another way : 47 seasoned Wyoming lawyers have looked at the 2020 election fraud issue up to and including the Big Lie ,and 46 of them are on record decrying it as fallacious and dangerous to the democratic process . Only one did not. Guess who ?