Natrona County GOP asks Wyoming Republican Chairman Eathorne to resign | 307 Politics

The Natrona County GOP called for Wyoming Republican Party Chairman Frank Eathorne’s resignation Tuesday following multiple controversial revelations about him.

Members of the Natrona County Republican Central Committee passed a resolution 48-35 that demanded Eathorne immediately step down as the party’s top official.

The resolution asserts that “Frank Eathorne has consistently failed to represent the values of the vast majority of Wyomingites” while also dividing the Republican Party here. It found support from a number of state lawmakers who represent Natrona County including Sens. Drew Perkins and Jim Anderson as well as Reps. Joe MacGuire, Pat Sweeney and Tom Walters. (Walters’ vote was secret because he is the parliamentarian, but he disclosed it afterward to a reporter.)

The resolution does not carry a tangible punishment outside of making a statement on a matter. 

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Frank Eathorne

Wyoming Republican Party Chairman Frank Eathorne pauses to listen to Brian Shuck, the party’s lawyer, during a conversation with Laramie County State Committeeman Ben Sherman on May 7 at the Sheridan County Fairgrounds Exhibition Hall. 

Despite the resolution’s success, a number of people at Tuesday’s meeting spoke out against it and questioned the allegations against Eathorne, including statehouse candidate Bill Allemand, who called it a “sham and shameful resolution” as well as a “poppycock liberal vendetta.” 

Natrona County’s call for Eathorne’s resignation is the latest conflict in the ongoing battle between the county party and the state GOP.

Darcie Gudger, a local Casper Republican at her first central committee meeting, was frustrated that Natrona County issues weren’t being discussed and time was being spent on inter-party conflicts.

“All of this infighting is not what the voters want,” she said. “We want action for the people. This is all about egos. As a Republican voter, this is not what I expect from my party.” 

Eathorne has served as Wyoming GOP chairman since 2017. His stature rose during the presidency of Donald Trump, and he’s played a key role in Trump’s efforts to unseat Rep. Liz Cheney for supporting impeachment. Trump mentioned Eathorne by name when he visited Casper for a rally last month. Eathorne, meanwhile, said he would run through barbed wire for the former president.

The resolution gave a number of reasons for why the GOP chairman should step down, including court records that indicate Eathorne, as a police officer in Worland in 1994, barged into a coworker’s home while drunk and armed and tried to convince her to have sex with him.

The resolution also calls out his presence on restricted grounds at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Eathorne said immediately following the Jan. 6 riot that he made a “brief stop in the vicinity” of the Capitol property, but photos published last month showed he got much closer to the building.

Natrona County GOP mulls calling for state party chairman’s resignation

“When asked about his involvement in the January 6th, 2021 insurrection, he repeatedly said that he went to the rally, walked down the street and retired to his hotel before any violence or destruction of property started,” the resolution states. “Not only was he a member of the “mob”, he has done nothing to condemn the insurrection – an attempt to overthrow the election.”

The resolution also notes that Eathorne is a member of the Oath Keepers, a militant right-wing organization (Eathorne maintains he is only a passive member), and once accepted $109,000 in agricultural subsidies. 

State Committeeman Dr. Joseph McGinley — who is arguably the most outspoken dissenter against the Wyoming Republican Party — and MacGuire first brought the resolution. 

MacGuire, who is up for reelection in August and facing a primary challenger, cited the growing conflicts within the party in explaining the need for Eathorne to resign.

“In my opinion he is failed in his leadership of the Wyoming Republican party. He’s fractured it,” MacGuire said. “And I think that we need new leadership to take it in a new direction.”

Save America Rally

Frank Eathorne addresses the crowd during the Save America Rally on Saturday, May 28, 2022, at the Ford Wyoming Center.

Natrona County Republicans have regularly clashed with the state GOP over the past several years. They sued the state GOP over bylaws that require each county party to pay dues to the state party or lose their delegates to the state GOP convention. 

Laramie County also lost most of its delegates at the convention over a bylaw violation.

Both counties say GOP leaders are selectively enforcing rules against them because they’ve stayed true to traditional Republicanism and have resisted the hard-line path that the state party has taken under Eathorne’s leadership. The resolution mentioned this trend. 

“Whereas Frank Eathorne, during his tenure, has overseen the divide of the Party, the elimination of Natrona County delegates and the last minute unseating of Laramie County delegates while turning a blind eye to the transgressions of other Counties,” it reads.

One of the people carrying a proxy vote Tuesday evening was Mike Eathorne, brother of the party chairman. He voted against the resolution and declined to comment afterward.

The chairman’s brother and some others who voted against the resolution left after it passed. 

Frank Eathorne did not respond to a request for comment.

Follow state politics reporter Victoria Eavis on Twitter @Victoria_Eavis

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