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Natrona County Republicans plan to continue legal battle with state GOP

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Natrona County Republicans

Natrona County Republican Party Central Committee meets Tuesday in Casper.

The Natrona County Republican Party plans to appeal a judge’s decision to toss its lawsuit against the state GOP.

A Laramie County district judge had granted the Wyoming Republican Party’s motion to end the case before the matter went to trial. On Tuesday, the Natrona County GOP Central Committee affirmed in two votes that it would go ahead with the appeal. The tally was close: The first was 46-39 and the second was slightly closer at 45- 41.

Before the vote, however, the appeal had already been filed.

The lawsuit was originally filed in response to bylaws that were passed at the 2020 convention that required county parties to pay dues or not have their delegates sat. Because Natrona County — which has been feuding with the state party for several years — was not paying dues, it did not have its delegates sat at the state party convention.

“If this lawsuit dies, then we would have to pay county shares or they will reduce our representation at convention” said county party chairman Kevin Taheri, who is an attorney. “That’s how the bylaws read right now.”

At the time of the bylaw change, Natrona County was not the only county party that was withholding funds from the state party. Natrona County Republican leaders often point out that the central committee voted to not pay dues at one point and often mention that paying dues has not historically been required of county parties.

In ruling in favor of the state party, the judge concluded the matter was moot since the bylaws had been adopted. The judge also noted that courts are reluctant to wade into the internal affairs of volunteer organizations. But Natrona County GOP state committeeman and major critic of the state party Dr. Joseph McGinley said that the appeal is necessary because the decision was “solely based on the ratification of the bylaws” as opposed to the “facts of the case.”

During debate at Tuesday’s meeting, a statement was read out from Peter Nicolaysen, an attorney and member of county party leadership who could not attend. Arguing in favor of the appeal, he argued Natrona County is “fighting for every Republican in this state party.” The statement was met with groans from others.

“In my opinion, this has gone on long enough,” said Dan Sabrosky, a Natrona County GOP central committee member. “Its a fight among egos and ideologies.”

The state GOP, meanwhile, characterized the lawsuit as baseless in an email to its members.

“We’ve talked about lawfare in the past. It’s a tactic used by opposition to derail, defund, and demoralize a group using baseless litigation,” the email read. “Sorry, that won’t work in Wyoming! The good people of this state understand the petty tactics being used to criticize the party in efforts to defund and stifle the conservative voice in Wyoming politics.”

McGinley said the county GOP’s lawyer recommended continuing with the lawsuit. McGinley also added that Peter Nicolaysen has $20,000 pledged from various people, with likely more on the way.

“We’re gonna cover the attorney fees whatever they cost,” Nicolaysen said.

Follow state politics reporter Victoria Eavis on Twitter @Victoria_Eavis

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