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Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray resigns; move caps dramatic fall for Cheyenne politician

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Ed Murray

Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray resigned earlier this month after two women accused Murray of sexual misconduct.

Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray announced his resignation late Friday afternoon, effective immediately. Murray said he has been “devastated” by two recent accusations of sexual misconduct and that he is now “unable to focus entirely on serving the good people of Wyoming.”

“I step aside with peace and serenity in order that I may fully focus on what is most important in my life: my marriage, my family and my health,” Murray said in the statement.

The resignation offers a dramatic conclusion to a two-month period during which the Cheyenne businessman went from the likely frontrunner to replace Gov. Matt Mead to a private citizen.

Murray’s troubles began in mid-December when a woman named Tatiana Maxwell accused him in a public Facebook post of sexually assaulting her in the early 1980s when Murray and Maxwell were both working at a Cheyenne law firm. Murray strenuously denied the allegation.

Then in late January, Theresa Sullivan Twiford, the daughter of former Wyoming governor Mike Sullivan, told the Star-Tribune that Murray had forcibly kissed her when she was 18-years-old and babysitting for his family in 1989. Murray said he did not recall the incident, but announced that he would not run for governor or reelection as secretary of state.

His resignation came hours after State Sen. Leland Christensen, R-Alta, told the Star-Tribune he would be running for secretary of state and the day after Rep. Jim Byrd, D-Cheyenne, also entered the race.

Murray touted his accomplishments as secretary of state over the last three years in his resignation statement. He highlighted the office’s electronic filing system for businesses and his passionate opposition to “needless increases in filing fees.” Murray also cited the Wyoming Youth Voter Initiative, focused on youth voter turnout.

“I truly am enormously thankful to the people of Wyoming for the honor and privilege of serving this Great State during the past three years,” Murray said. “I am eternally grateful to my wife and family and many friends and supporters through this journey – with its highest of highs and its lowest of lows.”

Murray said that nobody had asked him to resign.

Deputy Secretary of State Karen Wheeler will serve until Gov. Matt Mead appoints a new secretary.

Misconduct allegations

Maxwell said that while she was a recent high school graduate interning at the Cheyenne law firm Dray, Madison and Thomson, Murray had invited her to hangout at the firm’s office after work hours. She said it was then that Murray attempted to forcibly kiss her, wrestled her to the ground, lifted up her shirt and ejaculated on her stomach.

“I was disgusted and horrified,” Maxwell wrote.

Murray strongly denied the accusation.

“This baseless claim about an encounter from thirty-five years ago is unequivocally false,” Murray said in a statement at the time. “There is no basis to this falsehood whatsoever and it is deeply hurtful to me and to my family, as well as to everyone I serve.”

Twiford’s accusation came a little more than one month later and described less violent behavior. Twiford said that while she was home from winter break at the University of Wyoming and staying with her parents at the governor’s mansion, she agreed to babysit for the Murrays on New Year’s Eve 1988. She said that when Ed and Caren Murray returned home, Ed Murray walked her to her car and forcibly kissed her.

“I was shocked and appalled. As I backed away from him, he said, ‘Everyone should have a kiss on New Year’s Eve,’” Twiford said in her statement to the Star-Tribune.

Murray said he did not recall the incident.

Maxwell said she had been inspired to tell her story by the #MeToo movement that has seen women accuse dozens of prominent men of sexual misconduct and led to the downfall of several prominent men in media and politics, including television anchor Matt Lauer and U.S. Senator Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat.

Murray praised the movement in his statement denying Maxwell’s allegation.

“I struggle to understand what would motivate someone to make this kind of accusation,” Murray said. “But considering that this statement was made in the context of the #metoo movement, I want to take this moment to acknowledge the overall importance of this conversation, as well as to reaffirm my commitment to being an ally for women.”


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