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Bear calls for Harshman’s censure over obscenity-laced insult during Wyoming House special session

Rep. John Bear (Campbell County) on Friday morning. (Wyoming Legislature, Youtube)

CASPER, Wyo. — Rep. Steve Harshman (Natrona County) apologized on Friday morning for obscenities he used in an insult directed toward Rep. Chuck Gray (Natrona) on Thursday and had the privilege of participating in the special session remotely revoked by Speaker of the House Eric Barlow (Campbell, Converse), but at least one legislator wants the House to consider further punitive action against Harshman.

While participating remotely on Thursday, Harshman’s microphone was live when he directed an insult toward Gray that could be heard broadcast through the chamber in Cheyenne. Harshman, who said Friday he was unaware his microphone was live, used at least one swear word during the hot mic comment and possibly a second, though the audio was somewhat muffled. Harshman’s insult directed at Gray can be heard at around the 1:24:20 mark in the following video of Thursday’s floor session:

Rep. John Bear (Campbell County) said during the House of Representatives’ floor session on Friday morning that he plans to bring a motion for censure for the House to consider on Monday morning.

Bear said that he voted against rules allowing legislators to participate remotely during the 2021 General Session because he sees decorum as essential.

He said that it is “important we as a body show the people of the good State of Wyoming that we are leaders.” Bear said that amid the COVID-19 pandemic people may have a “tremendous amount of fear” in their hearts and that it is the role of leadership to instill confidence rather than fear.

Bear acknowledged that legislators, including himself, may behave differently at home than they do at the Capitol Building in Cheyenne.

“I am just as guilty as the next person about not behaving at my highest level at all times,” Bear said.

Bear noted that Barlow cautioned the House at the start of the current special session on Tuesday that the session would be emotional and that it would be important for members to work to speak respectfully to one another.

Bear said this was a good warning and that Barlow has generally done a good job of ensuring decorum in the House but that “it fell apart yesterday.”

Bear said that he plans to bring a motion for censure on Monday and asked that members of the House fast from eating. Bear said he wants them to “be focused in prayer to whoever your spiritual leader is.”

“We as a body need to decide how we are going to deal with that and how serious we are going to take that because there are over 100 years of history and decorum in this room,” Bear said. “On Monday morning, I will bring to you a motion for censure for one member and possibly two members of this body. You will have three days to investigate and speak to your spiritual guidance to decide how you will vote.”

Details about Harshman’s apology to both Gray and the entire House as well as Barlow’s statements in response to Harshman’s hot microphone moment are available in this article.

Oil City reached out to both Harshman and Gray on Friday morning requesting comment on the matter, but had not received responses as of 10:15 a.m.

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