A group of members from the Wyoming Constitution Party is expected to lodge a formal ethics complaint against State Sen. Eli Bebout (R-Riverton), and the documents have been circulating among Wyoming Republicans the last couple days. Specifically, the complaint alleges that Bebout in his elected capacity as Senator in Wyoming, voted on an amendment that could represent a conflict of interest with the company that he owns with others (Nucor, Inc.). The complaint also alleges violations by Senate President Philip Nicholas, the Rules Committee and Gov. Matt Mead. It has been brought forth by Jennifer Young/Goshen, Jeff Raney a Precinct Committeeman/Campbell, Vincent Naumu a Precinct Committeeman/Campbell, and Leah Naumu a Precinct Committeewoman/Campbell. All ethics complaints must be presented to the Senate President for the review to begin. Nicholas said that while he has heard of the matter, he has not received a formal, signed copy but Young tells him it is on the way. Young has not immediately returned request for comment. The Attorney General's Office, copied on the complaint, has not yet returned a question about whether or not the complaint had been received. *Alleged Ethics Violation* Nucor has been awarded $26 million in Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) funds via contracts since 2011, the complaint states, including significant funding in this must recent funding session. At the time of the vote including some of these funds on the final day of 2016 session, Bebout disclosed that he was "class of citizens" with interest in the outcome of the vote. The Senate adjourned for the Rules Committee to review the matter and decided unanimously that there was no conflict. In an audio recording
decision read to the whole Senate by Nicholas on the final day of the
session, Nicholas says Bebout has made his interest in the industry and
potential receipt of funds known for years. The Rules Committee found no
violation because the funds must still be bid upon and having the funds
available is in the interest of all who might bid, not just Bebout. There
were no objections from the floor to the committee's ruling.
"Senator Nicholas and the Rules Committee appear to be assisting in or
condoning Senator Bebout's violation of the Wyoming Constitution, Wyoming
Statutes, and the Senate Rules by failing to examine these potential
violations," the complaint states.
"I would also like to know whether Senator Bebout, as a member of the
Senate Rules Committee, participated in the consideration of whether he had
a conflict of interest. If he did, that would constitute another conflict
of interest," the document continues.
Bebout says he is taking the allegations seriously. "It is a very, very
For more than 25 years, in his personal life he has bid on government
projects and only one the projects when he was the low, most qualified
bidder, he said. With this specific violation he said he was voting to move
the federal AML dollars to the Wyoming Department of Environmental
Quality's coffers, not for direct allocation to Nucor, as outlined by
He noted that Wyoming's legislature is made up of private citizens who have
jobs outside of politics. Does this mean teachers shouldn't vote on
education bills or that retirees shouldn't vote on matters related to
retirement benefits? he asked.
But, should an actual investigation begin, Bebout said he would cooperate
fully and defend himself. "I'm all for the process," he said.
Bebout said he was "blown away" that Nicholas, the Rules Committee and Mead
could be accused of colluding with him.
Bebout is up for re-election this fall. He has no Republican challengers in
the primary and will face Democrat Chesie Lee in the November general
Pitchengine received a copy of an email that is reportedly being circulated
among some Wyoming Republicans, which expresses disgust in the matter.
Bebout confirmed he received the same forwarded email from other local
"Sadly, the charges in this document are very damaging and appear to be
anything but false," the email states. "We owe it to Republicans in Wyoming
to put this information out there and seek to stand up for our integrity,
lest this drag our image once again down in the manure pile. As a
Republican I do find it extremely distasteful that Republican leadership
has run afoul of Wyoming Statutes, Senate Rules and most importantly, the
Wyoming Constitution. These folks took an oath of office to uphold our
laws, to follow the rules and ensure the Wyoming and US Constitutions are
vigorously defended. If we don’t speak to this issue we leave it up to the
Democrats to put all of this forward in an attempt to make Republicans look
like Hilliary Clinton wanna-be’s."
The copy of the email Pitchengine received is signed by someone named
"Corey" and addressed to a "Matt."
"Democrats already will use the fact Republican leadership has over-spent
even in the face of questionable revenue projections, ignored warnings from
Conservative groups and flat out changed the rules on the Creg Report to
show investment income as revenue in order to balance spending," the email
continues. "I know we are innocent until proven guilty, but the facts shown
in this letter leave little room to doubt there is guilt fits the
complaint. With so much out there for us to gain in this election, can we
sit by and say nothing or do nothing about this?"
Nicholas says that if the complaint is formally filed, it will be
considered carefully. The letter asks that he appoint independent counsel
because of his own alleged involvement.
*(Feature pic: County 10 file photo - May 29, 2015, of Senator Bebout
(right) at Willow Creek School groundbreaking)*
#shortgo #county10 #springcity #county17 #oilcity #buckrail #reboot #dally