Wyoming GOP Targets Governor's Wife for Ethics Issues

As the race for governor heats up in Wyoming, the state’s Republican Party has its sights on First Lady Nancy Freudenthal, wife of Democratic Gov. Dave Freudenthal.

Last month, Republicans requested the governor’s office release any documents relevant to business conducted between state agencies and Nancy Freudenthal’s law firm, Davis & Cannon.

Included in the request are documents that pertain to the first lady’s appearance before the state Public Service Commission as an advocate for SBC Communications in a telecommunications merger.

“The fact is that a first lady shouldn’t be lobbying,” said Drake Hill, chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party. “Because anybody she brings forward to the legislature, they’re using her as an entrée to government, and the first lady shouldn’t be an entrée to government.”

The document request also seeks information about the governor’s use of a state airplane, government contracts between the governor’s brother’s law firm and the state, and whether the Highway Patrol was used to shuttle the first lady to non-official events and meetings with clients of her law firm.

Freudenthal’s office plans to honor the documents request. “All of the issues that are implicated in the request … are fair game for campaigns,” said Pete Maxfield,. Freudenthal’s legal counsel.

Maxfield also noted that the Governor and Mrs. Freudenthal spoke with an ethics expert in order to determine where the ethical boundaries lie for someone with a close personal connection to the upper echelons of state government.

“[They’ve] drawn a line, in terms of what’s propriety, that’s well inside what the state bar’s rule of ethics require,” Maxfield said.

The governor’s office objected to the records request initially, saying it would cost the state too much in time and resources. Media reports from Wyoming quoted the first lady as calling the effort by Republicans “a fishing expedition.”

According to Hill, documents have begun to be delivered, and the governor’s office is indeed honoring the request.