Politics as usual has never been more unusual than it has been lately.
In addition to the closely watched race between U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi and challenger Liz Cheney, there’s also the controversy surrounding beleaguered Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill and legislative leaders.
The battle lines have been drawn for some time, but the conversation keeps changing. Supporters of Hill continue to carp about a “good old boy” conspiracy, kept out of sight from the public, and used to bring down Hill. Hill’s advocates accuse legislative leaders of not being truthful and having a hidden agenda.
Many of those accusing the legislators are among the state’s Republican Party central committee.
But after last weekend’s meeting of the state GOP leadership, it’s hard to take the state party seriously when it comes to Hill.
For the record, the state GOP party refused to allow media to listen to Wyoming Speaker of the House Thomas Lubnau who addressed the Hill controversy behind closed doors. It refused to release the Speaker’s remarks. And, it failed to release a resolution that nearly passed that would have demanded due process at the Legislature for Hill.
Let’s be clear: Even had such a resolution passed at the party meeting in Casper, it would have been a paper tiger. What the GOP party leaders want and what legislative leaders do can be two separate things.
If the GOP party leadership is going to be taken seriously, then it needs to be transparent. It can’t call for transparency then employ none.
With meetings like the last one, the GOP central committee is not in the position to demand anything of legislators, especially seeing how party members themselves were being opaque.
Hill supporters within Republican leadership accuse the lawmakers of having an agenda, but closing meetings and voting against some of the most powerful Republicans in the state Legislature seems like an agenda of its own.
Accusations of a conspiracy by a good old boys club have a certain sizzle to them. And, given what happens in politics on a national level, it’s easy to assume the worst of politicians of any stripe. However, virtually no aspect of Hill’s tenure as one of the state’s top officers has been hidden.
Hill’s problems at the Wyoming Department of Education are well documented, from alleged misspending of state funds to questionable HR practices.
When Hill’s job duties as Superintendent of Public Instruction were changed by Senate File 104, lawmakers held hearings on the matter. The public was free to witness the entire process. And let’s not forget that a similar bill that would have stripped Hill of her duties was introduced and just narrowly failed the year before. This process was anything but hidden. It made the top news on virtually every front page, radio broadcast and nightly television show.
And even after Hill’s job duties had been changed, a comprehensive report was issued about her tenure in office; a longer, 1,800-page document chronicled problems of spending, leadership, possible harassment and hiring practices. Those who say the accusations are baseless don’t appear to have read the report. Those who claim the results have been hidden are either not connected or refuse to read — both versions of the MacPherson report can easily be found online at state government websites.
Finally, any hearings before a special legislative committee tasked with digging deeper into the reports will be done in the open, with the public watching. And, of course, any hearing to discuss impeachment and impeachment itself, should lawmakers choose that course, would be open with due process at a trial.
Transparent? The only way people could see more clearly is in an optometrist’s office.
If lawmakers are certain enough to have all their moves subjected to public scrutiny every step of the way, what do GOP leaders have to worry about?