A resolution before Wyoming Republican Party leadership that would have demanded due process for Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill during her upcoming investigation by the House Rules Committee narrowly failed to gain approval Saturday.
Members of the GOP Central Committee tabled the due process resolution 33 votes to 32 votes, said Bonnie Foster, party secretary.
Saturday’s meeting at the Ramada Plaza Casper Hotel and Conference Center was closed to the press and the party did not make a copy of the resolution available.
The Wyoming GOP has been split over Hill. In January, the Republican-dominated Legislature passed a bill that stripped powers from Hill, also a Republican, including her role as head of the Wyoming Department of Education. But many GOP Central Committee members stand behind her and are enraged about the investigation of Hill to be conducted by the House Rules Committee beginning Aug. 7. The investigation will look into whether Hill misused federal funds when she ran the WDE, as was alleged in a recent inquiry report.
Earlier Saturday, Wyoming House Speaker Tom Lubnau, R-Gillette, tried to reassure Wyoming Republican Party leadership that the upcoming investigation of Hill will be fair, but some Republicans said they didn’t believe him.
“It’s more innuendo out of the speaker, as far as I could see,” said Pat Moore of Fremont County.
Since the Star-Tribune wasn’t allowed in the meeting, Lubnau gave the newspaper a copy of his speech.
He said in the speech that the Aug. 7 hearing will be streamed live over the Internet.
“No articles of impeachment have been filed,” Lubnau said he told the GOP leaders. “We need to take this matter slowly, and make sure of our facts step-by-step throughout the process. We need to insure that Superintendent Hill is treated fairly and with due process of the law. But, realize, this is a process. Impeachment is an extraordinary event, and should only be utilized after full investigation and clear proof. The matter may end with the investigatory committee finding the claims unsubstantiated.”
Out in the hall after Lubnau’s speech, Hill emphasized that due process is important.
“I don’t have counsel,” she said. “I don’t have an opportunity to do discovery.”
Hill also thinks she deserves to cross-examine her accusers and be able to subpoena documents that could support her case.
Lubnau said that Hill will get due process rights if there is an impeachment trial. He does not know if she will get those exact rights on Aug. 7 because the House Rules Committee will decide those matters.
“We’ll have a vote on what the rules are and how to proceed,” he said.
“If [a] majority of the members of the House vote for impeachment, a trial is held in the Senate,” Lubnau’s speech said. “Superintendent Hill would have the right to counsel, cross examination, subpoena power and the right to call her own witnesses.”
As for the failed resolution demanding due process rights for Hill, William Curley has a theory about why it was tabled.
“My theory is there were three things,” said Curley, of Weston County who presented the resolution.
He thinks that some people were against the resolution on principle; some people agreed with the resolution but didn’t think it was the Central Committee’s place to be adopting resolutions and ultimately voted against it; and some people agreed with the resolution but thought the way it was written was too critical of the Legislature and ultimately voted against it.
Lawmakers from both parties said they passed the original bill stripping Hill of duties because they didn’t think the Hill was following their plan for education accountability. Hill has said she was the victim of a “good ol’ boys” network.