Press Release – At yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) regular meeting of the Campbell County Board of Commissioners, allegations regarding a potential conflict of interest on the part of Chairman Mark A. Christensen were raised in a manner that was disruptive to the meeting by a citizen and local Republican Committeemen, who identified himself as Tex Adams. Mr. Adams did not attempt, prior to the meeting, to be added to the agenda or to otherwise let anyone know he was planning to show up as he did. When he was offered an opportunity to speak during the public comment portion of the agenda, his presentation was rude, lacked a factual basis, and was presented in an unnecessarily uncivil manner.
Though Mr. Adams began his tirade with a statement that he had moved on from the quarter-cent (.25%) tax discussion of almost seven months ago, he went on to falsely accuse Commission Chairman Christensen of a “conflict of interest” regarding the same. It is apparently Mr. Adams’ personal opinion that, Mr. Christensen should have abstained from all discussions regarding the economic development tax that would have potentially supported Gillette College and Energy Capital Economic Development (ECED) because Mr. Christensen sits on the board of ECED as a non-executive board member. Mr. Adams did not state any verifiable facts about his opinion and false accusation about Commission Chair Christensen.
Mr. Christensen was elected to the ECED board by small business members because of his company’s membership within the organization. Had Mr. Adams actually inquired before making a spectacle of himself at Tuesday’s meeting, he would have learned that Mr. Christensen sought legal counsel concerning any possible conflict(s) of interest well in advance of his vote on the quarter-cent (.25%) tax issue. Counsel reminded Mr. Christensen that a recusal should only happen when there is a direct conflict of interest that will benefit or provider a lesser detriment to the individual rather than to the general public.
Further, the plain facts here have always been that Mr. Christensen and his companies have never been lobbied for by ECED, sought the assistance of ECED to obtain funding or grants, and have never planned to obtain or work with ECED to obtain the same in the future. Neither Mr. Christensen nor his companies had any active proposals for projects that could have benefitted from the support of ECED. The public at large should also be reminded that the Wyoming Constitution prevents state and local government from giving any money directly to businesses of any kind. Mr. Adams provided no facts to the contrary during his inaccurate personal attack upon Mr. Christensen at Tuesday morning’s public meeting.
In response to the lack of factual content and the rude presentation of Mr. Adam’s inaccurate allegations, Mr. Christensen expressed his concerns on the allegations, “Unfortunately, it’s dangerous for the uninformed to read through the statutes and cherry-pick provisions without contextualizing them and reading them within their entirety. Mr. Adams obviously has an axe to grind with me personally because I chose to support the proposed quarter-cent (.25%) tax. I have encountered his rude and improper threatening behavior on a previous occasion when at a Campbell County Republican Party meeting he attempted to physically intimidate me by preventing me from leaving the room. In excess of a dozen people witnessed his improper and threatening actions and they are likely on video because the party held their meeting in a surveilled room at City Hall.
“I find it ironic that Mr. Adams believes I should not have discussed or ultimately voted to allow the community to vote on whether or not they valued Gillette College or ECED enough to impose the potential quarter-cent (.25%) tax. We should always stand on the side of allowing the citizens to choose on issues like this, as myself and the other members of the Board of Commissioners did by leaving the optional one-percent (1%) sales tax renewal up to the voters. I will continue to stand for providing voters with every possible opportunity to provide comment and feedback directly through the ballot box on the operations of our county and community. If Mr. Adams disagrees with me he is free to say so accurately as he chooses. He is not free, however, to falsely accuse me or physically intimidate me or anyone else he simply disagrees with.”
“Mr. Adams and I previously discussed this very same matter a number of months ago. Unfortunately, though I have communicated the facts of the situation and statutes, Mr. Adams seems unwilling to accept any position that does not further his own agenda, instead choosing to make false statements and resort to bullying and intimidation to accomplish his goals,” Mr. Christensen said.
Christensen added, “I previously sought advice of counsel and neither myself nor my companies stood to benefit from any potential monies that could have made their way to ECED. I was informed a recusal would not have been appropriate. Additionally, the ECED board includes other members of the county commission, city, school district, and others. If we each asserted conflict of interest under every possible potential situation, our elected officials would never be forced to make a decision or take a stand to show their constituents what they believe. The law cited by Mr. Adams provides we as public servants must only abstain in clear cases of a conflict of interest recognizing the importance of our obligation to represent our constituency and not hide behind a conflict of interest claim when faced with making difficult decisions.
“Just yesterday, I could have chosen not to approve the advertising of the budget and the mills it imposes because I am a property tax payer. I could assert a conflict of interest and not do any work to better Campbell County for business and to assist our local energy industries because I also receive mineral royalties. My wife and I make many donations to local groups who also work with the county. Wyoming’s conflict of interest statutes are very clear and very specific. Mr. Adams would be wise to read them thoroughly before making any false statements.”
Mr. Adams called for a full investigation by the State Attorney General’s Office, which is not the place to direct his request, but Mr. Christensen encourages him to make his request to local law enforcement so that they may investigate this matter and bring it to a quick end. If real facts and anidentified legal basis do not exist to support such an allegation, then it should not be made or bandied about on social media inaccurately. That sort of thing amounts to intentional slander.
“Although Mr. Adams has every right to address the commission during public comment, and I invite him back, he should also recognize that making false accusations only hurts his credibility and the credibility of those who are in league with him. Also, mean spirited tirades are never constructive or persuasive to anyone and should be discouraged in public discourse on every level – including social media. Mr. Adams and his friends have seen some success, unfortunately, because bad behavior and intimidation often prevents the best and brightest from seeking elected office.”
End Press Release
* Mr. Adams has been invited to speak about his concerns live on KIML with morning show host Vic Wright.