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Secretary of state seeks donations for ongoing lawsuit

CASPER — Interim Secretary of State Karl Allred asked members of the GOP State Central Committee in an email Wednesday for donations to cover the costs of an ongoing lawsuit among Uinta County Republicans, a move that sources said is unusual for an acting secretary of state.

“I am really sorry to have to reach out but we are at the end of our rope and really need any help we can get,” Allred wrote in the Wednesday email.

Mountain View Republican and Representative-elect Jon Conrad, who beat out Allred by 326 votes in the House District 19 August primary election, filed a lawsuit last year against the Uinta County GOP.

The lawsuit asserts that the county party illegally let executive committee members who had been ousted from their precinct seats vote in the county’s elections. Conrad was joined by several others as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Allred, a Uinta County state committeeman, is one of the defendants in the case.

Other defendants include former Uinta County GOP Chairman Lyle Williams, Uinta County GOP Chairwoman Elizabeth Jackson and Uinta County GOP State Committeewoman Jana Williams.

The lawsuit was dismissed in district court and by the Secretary of State’s office.

But plaintiffs appealed the case in August to the Wyoming Supreme Court, so the lawsuit is still ongoing. A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 18.

Fighting that appeal, Allred said in his email, will cost $30,000; the party has “just over $900” left in its legal account.

“Unfortunately this ends up being not only a Uinta county issue because if they win they will be coming after the state bylaws again and more counties,” he wrote.

Allred didn’t respond to the Star-Tribune for comment by deadline.

It’s unclear whether there are statutory or constitutional restrictions that limit this sort of conduct by an acting secretary of state. But Allred’s move is unusual, sources said.

“I can’t think of another instance where something like this has happened,” former Secretary of State Max Maxfield said, describing such behavior as “inappropriate.”

“You’re supposed to be neutral, as secretary of state, in anything political,” Maxfield, who was Wyoming’s secretary of state from 2007 to 2015, said. “Joining a lawsuit, trying to support a lawsuit, or defending a lawsuit is not remaining neutral.”

In a follow-up email to members of the GOP State Central Committee, Allred let committee members know that a reporter from the Cowboy State Daily had reached out to him with questions about his initial message.

“Just so all are clear, my email coming from my personal email is as the Uinta County State Committeeman and has NOTHING to do with my being Sec of State,” he wrote. “As I use my personal email and not my government email or title it is Party business and not State business, you do notice that I do not use title or even bring up my current job in my email.”

Maxfield said he still didn’t consider it to be ethical conduct for the secretary of state.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s private, or whether it’s in the four walls of the office,” he said. “It’s still inappropriate, it’s over the line.”

Gov. Mark Gordon appointed Allred in September to be Wyoming’s interim secretary of state following former Secretary of State Ed Buchanan’s resignation earlier that month.

He was among three people nominated for the post by the Wyoming Republican Central Committee. Gordon was required to pick a candidate from those three choices.

Allred’s stint as Wyoming’s no. 2 statewide elected official will end next month when Secretary of State-Elect Chuck Gray takes over the position.

The Star-Tribune asked in a text to Gray on Wednesday what his thoughts were on Allred soliciting donations to cover the cost of the litigation while acting as secretary of state.

Gray did not respond to the Star-Tribune’s inquiry by deadline.

This story was published on Dec. 15, 2022.

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