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Out West Roundup: Friess will spend ‘whatever it takes’ in Wyoming governor’s race

Author: Associated Press - May 18, 2018 - Updated: July 3, 2018

Foster-Friess-AP.jpg
Wyoming businessman Foster Friess is pictured in this file photo. Friess announced his campaign for Wyoming governor Friday, April 20, 2018, at the Republican state convention in Laramie. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, file)Wyoming businessman Foster Friess is pictured in this file photo. Friess announced his campaign for Wyoming governor Friday, April 20, 2018, at the Republican state convention in Laramie. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, file)

Wyoming

Wyoming governor candidate Friess will spend “whatever it takes” to win

CHEYENNE – Republican candidate for governor Foster Friess is slowly developing policy positions, but it’s hard to tell yet how his broad political convictions will compare to his primary opponents who are more well-versed in state government issues.

Friess – a successful investor, GOP megadonor, national news commentator and philanthropist – was the seventh Republican to enter the GOP primary to replace term-limited Republican Gov. Matt Mead.

It’s an interesting development in the primary battle as his vast resources and connections to national figures make his candidacy something never seen before in Wyoming.

Many expect this year’s gubernatorial campaign to see unprecedented levels of spending in Wyoming electoral history. Friess told attendees at a recent event in Cheyenne that he would be sourcing most of his contributions from out of state, and said he wanted to put a cap of $5 on Wyoming contributors. When asked why entities outside of Wyoming would contribute to his campaign, Friess said, “Because they love me.” As to how much he expects his campaign to spend, Friess said “whatever it takes.”

“A couple million, $3 million; might take $4 million,” he said. “God’s given me a lot of money, and I’m draining it out of my kids’ inheritance.”

Though he’s called on by news networks to comment on national issues, Friess conceded when he made his announcement in April that he had a lot to learn about state government in Wyoming. Friess said he plans to attend a GOP candidate forum May 19 in Cheyenne with his opponents where specifics on policies will no doubt come up. With that event less than two weeks out, Friess said “we’ll see” how he measures up compared to the other candidates.

“I’ll have people brief me on what the issues are, but they could come up with some off-the-wall issues,” he said.

“The important thing is I have the skill set to gather information very quickly to figure out what the answer should be. So if I know the answers to or ideas on how to stabilize the budget, diversify the economy and how to improve our education system, that’s the focus. And if people want to (focus on) grizzlies and sage grouse, we can deal with that later.”

Kansas

Governor to sign bill allowing religious adoption groups to refuse LGBT couples

TOPEKA, Kansas — A bill that ensures faith-based adoption agencies can turn away gay and lesbian couples based on religious beliefs will be signed into law by Gov. Jeff Colyer.

Kansas lawmakers passed the legislation after an intense debate. One suggested the need for the legislation proves the existence of the “homosexual agenda,” while another said the bill judges people.

“Catholic Charities and other adoption agencies are key to the fabric of our communities. I look forward to signing this bill because it increases the opportunities for needy children to find loving homes,” Colyer said in a statement.

The adoption bill is among several that states across the nation have passed or are considering. Oklahoma lawmakers approved similar legislation last week.

Opponents call the Kansas legislation discriminatory. The bill says the Kansas Department for Children and Families cannot block any foster or adoption agency from participating in its programs solely because it refuses to adopt or place children with LGBT individuals.

Numerous groups and individuals “have all spoken out against this bill because they understand that needless, discriminatory bills only serve to harm Kansans and the reputation of the Sunflower State,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT rights organization.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families has supported the bill, saying it would provide an opportunity for some organizations that have had concerns in the past.

Rep. Jarrod Ousley, D-Merriam, said DCF has told him that it has been approached by organizations outside Kansas that would operate in the state if the bill became law.

A network of companies that includes Apple, Google, Amazon and other tech firms sent a letter to Republican leaders opposing the bill. The letter raised concerns the bill will hamper the state’s ability to attract and retain workers.

But supporters dismissed concerns the bill would harm business in Kansas. They pointed to Virginia, which has had a law in place for years, to show that Kansas won’t face harmful consequences. They say the bill will protect religious-based adoption agencies from restrictions that have been placed on them in other states.

The Kansas Catholic Conference, the voice of the Kansas Catholic Church on public policy, has urged people to write their representatives in support of the legislation. If they were required to place children with same-sex couples, Catholic Charities in Kansas would likely stop offering adoption services, Michael Schuttloffel, executive director of the conference, has said.

Utah

Romney: Jeffress was wrong man to give Jerusalem prayer

U.S. Senate candidate Mitt Romney of Utah says a prominent Baptist minister shouldn’t be giving the prayer that opens the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem because he’s a “religious bigot.”
In a tweet May 13, a day ahead of the controversial embassy’s dedication, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee criticized Dallas minister Robert Jeffress for his previous remarks about Jews, Mormons and Islam.
Romney said, “Robert Jeffress says ‘you can’t be saved by being a Jew,’ and ‘Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.’ He’s said the same about Islam.”
The liberal group Media Matters reports on its website that Jeffress made the remarks cited by Romney in a 2011 speech at the conservative Values Voter Summit.
Jeffress responded in a tweet of his own by defending his view that “salvation is through faith in Christ alone.”
“Historic Christianity has taught for 2,000 years that salvation is through faith in Christ alone. The fact that I, along with tens of millions of evangelical Christians around the world, continue to espouse that belief, is neither bigoted nor newsworthy,” Jeffress said in the tweet,
The role of Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, a Southern Baptist megachurch, underlines the significance of the Jerusalem event as an appeal to Christian conservatives, part of President Donald Trump’s base of supporters.

New Mexico

Records: Ex-candidate was paid by rival before exiting race

ALBUQUERQUE — A former candidate for New Mexico governor was paid $14,000 by a Democratic rival a day before announcing his exit from the race, according to campaign finance records.

Candidate Peter DeBenedittis told the Albuquerque Journal that rival Jeff Apodaca had paid him for an email list and to be a campaign spokesman after he had decided to drop out of the race. He said he wasn’t paid to leave.

Apodaca’s campaign finance reports show the $4,000 and $10,000 payments to “Peter D and Company” of Santa Fe on March 13.

DeBenedittis announced his departure the next day. He sent a formal letter to the Secretary of State’s Office to withdraw his candidacy on March 15.

DeBenedittis said he decided to endorse Apodaca after speaking with all the candidates about the issues.

Being unemployed at the time, DeBenedittis said Apodaca offered him the position, so he took it.

“To me, I’m trying to leverage the assets in my campaign into assets I can survive off of,” DeBenedittis said.

Through running his own campaign, he said he had gained expertise and compiled a valuable list of Democratic contacts.

“For the amount of work I’m doing vs. any other campaign consultant, I’m getting paid peanuts,” DeBenedittis said.

Apodaca said his former rival shared a similar campaign platform and was a good fit for the job. The hiring came after DeBenedittis had left the race, he said.

With DeBenedittis leaving the race, three Democratic candidates remain — U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, state Sen. Joseph Cervantes and Apodaca, a former media executive.

Unions rescind political endorsement amid harassment scandal

SANTA FE — An alliance of construction trade unions is rescinding its endorsement of a state legislator who is the focus of an investigation into sexual harassment allegations.

The New Mexico Building and Construction Trades Council announced its decision to withdraw the endorsement of Santa Fe-area Rep. Carl Trujillo in a Democratic primary race until harassment allegations are investigated and resolved. The council represents about 10,000 craft professionals affiliated with 15 unions.

Trujillo has been accused by former lobbyist Laura Bonar of sexually harassing behavior several years ago as the two worked together on animal welfare legislation. He says the allegations are lies.

An investigative committee of four lawmakers has been appointed to determine if there is probable cause to pursue charges against Trujillo.

Trujillo is campaigning against fellow Democrat Andrea Romero.

Arizona

Arizona Supreme Court to review ruling in ski resort dispute

PHOENIX — The Arizona Supreme Court will review an appeals court’s ruling in the Hopi Tribe’s dispute with artificial snowmaking operations at a Flagstaff-area ski resort.

In February, the state’s Court of Appeals backed the tribe’s effort to halt the use of treated wastewater for the Arizona Snowbowl’s snowmaking on the San Francisco Peaks.

At least 13 tribes consider the mountain on public land sacred.

The Hopis sued Flagstaff in 2011 over the city’s decision to sell wastewater to the Snowbowl.

Under a 20-year contract, the ski resort pays less than $2 for every 1,000 gallons and the pact allows for 180 million gallons every season.

Flagstaff and the Snowbowl both petitioned the state Supreme Court to review the appeals court’s decision.

The high court hasn’t set a date for oral arguments.

Associated Press

Associated Press