Since 2019, a mysterious somebody has fashioned themselves an arbiter of the conservative bona fides of Wyoming’s Republican lawmakers — all from behind a computer screen. 

“This is the primary reason was created,” the website states. “To expose liberal Wyoming Republicans who violate our Wyoming Republican values.”

Out of the Legislature’s 93 members, 86 are Republicans. But not all is what it appears to be, according to WyoRINO. Per the website’s 2023 scorecard, the majority of the Legislature’s Republican supermajority is made up of Republicans in name only, or RINOs. 

That’s a bold assertion for someone not bold enough to identify themselves to the public, several lawmakers who have been targeted by the website say. 

“The fact it is anonymous is the height of cowardice,” said Natrona County GOP Chairman Joe MacGuire. When MacGuire served as representative for House District 35, the website named him RINO of the month twice.

Now, MacGuire’s county party is throwing a party on Sept. 14. The guest of honor: WyoRINO. 

“Come on out, wherever you are. Maybe take your jammies off and come on out,” MacGuire said. “And let’s have an open conversation.” 

It’s not a surprise that the Natrona County Republican Party would host such an event. The local party tends to lean more moderate than its statewide counterpart, and it has tussled with far-right factions of the party before. 

There will be wine, dinner and a silent auction, with proceeds going to Natrona County Republicans. The idea, MacGuire said, is to have a good time at the expense of the “oh-so-serious” mud-slinger. WyoRINO showing up, MacGuire said, would be the cherry on the cake. 

Several lawmakers will be attending, including Rep. Tom Walters (R-Casper), who was among the first to enter WyoRINO’s “Hall of Shame” back in 2020. 

“I’ve since received the award another time or two,” Walters said. “And yet I can’t get a hold of anybody to get my plaque.”

Political mystery 

One of the only clues to WyoRINO’s identity appears on the website.  

“Disclaimer: Ride for the Brand, Wyoming is not affiliated with any other person, organization, political party or publication and does not speak for anyone but itself,” it states.  

Ride for the Brand, Wyoming is a trade name first registered with the Secretary of State’s office in December 2019, according to public records. The applicant for the registration is Seventeen Eighty Nine, LLC, which filings indicate was initially registered with the state in October 2019. It’s since been administratively dissolved for failing to file annual reports and pay its license fees to Wyoming.  

That paper trail, however, comes to a dead end. The only person’s name that appears on either filing is Jack Edwards, an Etna-based attorney. 

“I was simply hired to organize the company with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office, but otherwise I don’t have any affiliation whatsoever with the organization,” Edwards told WyoFile. 

“I don’t endorse that site at all,” he added.

Forming an LLC in Wyoming does not require an attorney, but it is not uncommon for business owners to hire a lawyer for the job. Additionally, Wyoming is known around the world for its business formation framework that provides a high degree of, if not complete anonymity to involved parties thanks to little regulation and strong privacy laws

Joe MacGuire, former representative for House District 35, chats with a colleague in the House chamber on Feb. 12, 2020. (Andrew Graham/WyoFile)


Whether Ride for the Brand, Wyoming is the same person or group behind WyoRINO isn’t clear, but the entity plays a critical role in the website’s scoring of lawmakers. 

Each legislative session, WyoRINO considers how lawmakers voted on 10 bills. More specifically, it adds or strips points depending on certain votes, such as committee of the whole or third reading. Additionally, one set of 10 bills is considered for the Senate, another for the House. If a lawmaker receives a score of less than 70%, they’re labeled a RINO. 

“These particular bills were chosen by Ride for the Brand, Wyoming due to their easily identifiable traits in relation to Republican values,” the website states.

Some but not all of the most high-profile bills from the 2023 session were selected this year. Two abortion bills were used separately to score senators and representatives, but not both bodies. Meanwhile, the cross-over voting ban — a top priority for Wyoming’s far right and a major victory for the Wyoming Republican Party — was only considered to assess senators. Additionally, a bill to prohibit transgender girls from competing in middle- and high-school girls sports events wasn’t considered at all. 

That’s cherry picking, according to Walters. 

“The way they go about it, they take 10 bills that are very hand-selected to get the desired outcome they’re looking for, which is really disappointing,” Walters said. “Some of them are even just introductory votes on bills, and that bill might go to a committee and may never even make it out of the committee or it might come out of the committee as a substitute bill or something entirely different.”

WyoRINO has tried to beat the cherry-picking allegations. 

“After analyzing dozens of bills and thousands of roll call votes, WyoRINO has come to the same conclusion we arrive at every year at this time,” the website states. “A legislator with a RINO score of 10% on 50 bills will, without fail, retain their abysmal score when only 10 bills are considered.”

Cherry picking or not, the ranking system isn’t taken very seriously by most lawmakers, according to Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne), a frequent target of Wyoming’s far right. In fact, the spirit of next week’s party has been around since the website’s debut. Zwonitzer was the inaugural RINO of the month in December 2019. 

“I remember when it came out, my husband thought it was so hilarious,” Zwonitzer said. “He actually printed it out and framed it, and it’s hanging on a back wall in my basement. It’s one of the joke presents he got me for Christmas.”

“Since then they’ve gone after pretty much everybody who’s not a Freedom Caucus member,” he added, referencing the hard-line faction of Republicans that’s emerged in recent years. In the 2022 election, Zwonitzer said, some of those members highlighted their A+ in campaign materials. 

The possibility of voters taking the anonymous website or other nameless sources seriously when casting their ballots is not something MacGuire takes lightly. 

“This next political season, you’ll definitely get mailers and postcards that [don’t] tell you who they’re from, or who paid for it,” MacGuire said. “And you should immediately discount those because if it’s from a credible source, they’re willing to sign their name to it.”

Why now? 

The idea for the party has been brewing for several years, MacGuire said. It’s happening now, he said, to highlight not just the website’s cowardice but to call attention to what he sees as campaign finance violations. Two years ago, he filed a complaint, but said he never heard anything back. 

“There have been numerous requests to the Secretary of State’s office to investigate, question, track down, do something, and nothing’s ever happened,” MacGuire said. “It’s come to the point where private citizens have got to call it out, or nothing will ever happen.”

Serious matters aside, MacGuire said he hasn’t gotten an RSVP from WyoRINO. He’s not holding his breath for a surprise appearance, either.

If WyoRINO shows, they’ll have to fork over $32 just like any other party-goer. Cash bar opens at 6. Dinner and a program kick off at 7.

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. WyoRINO won’t show up. And for good reason. His identity is not revealed for the clear reason… there would be consequences. Consider the simple demographics of Wyoming. WyoRINO could be…
    Employee of the state of Wyoming
    Federal Government employee
    Law enforcement
    Public school teacher
    Community college employee
    UW employee
    County employee
    City employee
    Employee of a company that serves any of the above
    Employee or owner of a business that does not want the publicity
    A legislator or elected official

    As a country becomes more politicized, the danger of exercising your freedom of speech grows and can impact you, and family or even friends.

    WyoRINO could be anyone in the above list and more. He knows the risks of his activities and the consequences of being known.

    I served in the military. I don’t really like it when someone thanks me for my service. I would rather they exercise the rights for which I fought for in very dangerous conditions. But I understand when they weigh the risks and publish anonymously.


    Mrs. Silence Dogood (Ben Franklin)
    Deep Throat (Mark Felt)
    Tank man of Tiananmen Square (presumed deceased)

  2. I feel for my Republican friends and neighbors… you guys are in a really strange place these days. Hope the fever breaks soon and we can get back to work.

  3. The Republican party, especially in Wyoming, is a cult that trades in alternative “facts” and conspiracy theories. To put a fine point on this is a total waste of effort.

  4. Well done Natrona County Republicans. I suggest a t-shirt for the party:

  5. Do they realize that the term ” Liberal Republican” is an absolute oxymoron ? In a contest of awarding medals for oxymoronics, the Liberal Republicans get the gold at the Oxymoron Olympics. Silver went to ” Jumbo Shrimp ” and bronze to ” Alternate Facts”. The finals included Old News , Virtual Reality , Original Copy , A Little Pregnant , Military Intelligence , and a surprising showing by Creation Science.

    Oxymoron is defined as words, a phrase, or names that seem to directly contradict themselves. The source is ancient Greek. Oxus means sharp ; moron is a fool. Which is pretty much a definition of Wyoming Republican . Still working on whatever a Freedom Caucus is supposed to be…

    1. “Freedom, ” as in “The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. “Caucus,” as in “a meeting at which local members of a political party register their preference among candidates running for office or select delegates to attend a convention.” Another contemporary omnipresent oxymoron is “liberal Democrat,” as in silencing free speech at school board meetings, college campuses, the major media outlets, etc…..

      1. The gullible boomers who subscribe to “the sky is falling” mentality is out of control. The sooner that they fade into the sunset, the better off we all will be.