On Wednesday March 26, an audit of expenditures of federal funds by Wyoming government agencies was released to the public, in which the state Department of Education received extremely high marks for proper spending practices. This situation hardly made the news, and has generally been greeted with a yawn. From a certain perspective, such a reaction is entirely understandable. Since being elected to the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2010, Cindy Hill and her staff have been constantly subjected to baseless accusation, scrutiny, and investigation, along with numerous audits, as her detractors incessantly assured the people of Wyoming that a sinister “smoking gun” lurked just around the next corner.
Yet in every case, Hill has been completely exonerated, proving time after time that her department is being run with the highest levels of integrity and competence. In the process she has not merely endured, but has risen above these intended distractions, fulfilling her promises to the people of Wyoming that she would focus on improving academic performance among this state’s school children. At the same time, she has often stood alone and immovable against shady land deals, fat-cat contracts, and the mutual back-scratching that has become endemic in the backrooms of state government. She has clearly understood that restoring the proper direction and purpose of her department would require cutting through the mire of self-serving bureaucracy and cronyism that had completely overtaken the power structure in Wyoming.
Of course the outcry against such necessary changes has been loud, and filled with personal animus against her. Yet she never suggested that a transition of this magnitude would be painless. It certainly could not be, considering the level to which so much of the operation of state offices had degenerated. The entrenched class at the inner circle is not about to return its ill-gotten power to the people without a fight. But any such fight should never have included a governor who had sworn an oath to the people of his state that he would preserve and maintain the integrity of a government established to serve their interests and address their concerns.
Unfortunately, on every count Wyoming Governor Mead has fallen abysmally short of such standards, starting with his signing of SF 104, the 2013 statute which nullified the elected position of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and gave the powers of that office to an appointee of the governor. It has since been declared unconstitutional by the Wyoming Supreme Court. Nevertheless, Mead continues to exhibit a flagrant indifference to Wyoming’s Constitution, the fundamental charter of state government, and to the people of this state whose lives and wellbeing are dependent on it. Instead, he has chosen an ethically bankrupt course of legal gymnastics, specifically designed to skirt the law, rather than uphold and defend it.
Reacting to this latest audit, and the fact that it once again vindicates Superintendent Hill as have all previous inquiries, Mead made some vague mention of still having “serious concerns.” In like manner, Wyoming House Speaker Tom Lubnau (a Mead crony) once again insinuated that some new information is forthcoming, which will apparently justify all of the past subterfuge perpetrated against Hill.
At this late date, it is hardly likely that anyone in the Cowboy state still buys into the ludicrous notion that some sinister activity on Cindy Hill’s part, or the manner in which she has conducted the affairs of her office, could possibly validate the unending attacks against her. Rather, it is patently obvious that Governor Mead, Speaker Lubnau, and their minions simply intend to continue concocting enough imaginary “smoke” to eventually convince the people that despite the complete lack of substantiating evidence, some underlying fire must surely exist.
The truth Governor, is that if the people of Wyoming are to enjoy the blessings of liberty and maintain the time-honored institution of a representative republic, they should have “serious concerns” about the manner in which you have usurped their ability to self-govern, and to live in a society of duly enacted and justly enforced laws. The people should have “serious concerns” about the oath of office you swore to uphold, which did not grant you the ability to pick and choose when those laws were to be enforced or ignored, based on your desire to recreate Wyoming government in your image. Such conduct desecrates the concept of the law altogether, and if allowed to continue unchecked, would ultimately supplant it with an emperor who rules by edict and decree.
If this assessment sounds severe, it bears mentioning again that from the moment SF 104 was passed and signed by Governor Mead, barely thirty-six hours elapsed before Superintendent Hill was uprooted from her office and stripped of the authority granted to her by the voters. Yet it has now been more than two months since the Supreme Court declared that move unconstitutional, and Mead still refuses to comply with the court’s decision or the will of the Wyoming people. And with each day that passes as he fails to uphold the law, he essentially makes a public declaration that his purpose is not to “faithfully execute” but to exploit his position of power for the furtherance of his own interests, and no doubt those of his accomplices. Rather than serving the public that elected him, he reveals a total contempt for them.
Not surprisingly, Hill’s opponents have shamelessly sought to camouflage the rampant corruption which is preventing her from resuming her rightful role, by attempting to defame and discredit her on totally spurious grounds. Some have characterized her struggle to regain the office she rightly should hold as the deeds of a “drama queen,” which is quite ironic, considering that among the many “investigations” of possible impropriety in her office, the most telling (at least in regards to the intellectual vacancy of her accusers) was a pathetic and vastly overblown melodrama about a birthday cake, in which certain “adults” actually complained of being traumatized over an unequal distribution of the cake. Others have actually endeavored to cast her intensity to do the job she was elected to do as an indication that she feels the position is “owed to her,” though in so stating, they completely fail to recognize that “public service” by elected officials is indeed owed to the public.
Still others are berating her continued resolve to right the wrongs of Wyoming government by dismissing the effort as mere retribution against those who illegally evicted her from her office. But this defining episode in Wyoming history is not about having “an axe to grind” with anyone. Rather it is about having an oath to uphold, and a promise to the people that can and should be kept. Modern culture may mock and trivialize such things, but among those who hope to see the greatness of the State of Wyoming and the entire nation restored, it is entirely worthy and of critical importance to hold such ideals in high regard.