After a heated 2016 election season, Wyoming lawmakers are looking to implement several new regulations relating to political campaigns during elections. During its meetings this week in Lander, the Wyoming Legislature Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee advanced several draft bills for further consideration relating to election issues. And some of those pieces of proposed legislation pertain to a slew of controversial incidents in Wyoming in 2016. Just weeks before the 2016 general election, the Wyoming Republican Party filed a complaint with the secretary of state’s office alleging left-wing political groups based in Laramie engaged in shadowy tactics stemming from a series of mailers critical of Republican candidates. The mailers described in the GOP complaint alleged that the source of funding, a group known as Forward Wyoming Advocacy, was connected to another organization, ELLA WY, which was hired by several Democratic candidates for consulting services. While any firm connection between candidates, their campaigns and Forward Wyoming Advocacy is yet unclear, Republicans alleged it constituted a violation of Wyoming election law.
But after the complaint was filed, there was apparent confusion on how to proceed investigating the complaint. The secretary of state forwarded the complaint to the attorney general, who sent it on to the Albany County Attorney’s office. Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent questioned the protocol, and the case bounced back to the attorney general.
“That case was in limbo,” Secretary of State Ed Murray said Thursday. “The disposition of it is yet to be determined. But far too long went by with confusion and without a streamlined pathway to prosecution.”
That case was the impetus for a draft bill that would provide a clearer pathway of investigation and prosecution that Murray said was “previously discombobulated.”