Party makeup of University of Wyoming trustees violates state rules



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CASPER, Wyoming — Nine of the 12 trustees governing the University of Wyoming are registered Republicans, despite a state statute permitting only seven members to belong to the same political party.

That's according to state elections data obtained by The Casper Star-Tribune (http://is.gd/elBOBb) under public records law.

Gov. Matt Mead, a Republican, appoints the members of the board with the approval of the state Senate. He said in a statement that he will rectify the imbalance as board members' terms expire.

"With several hundred appointees on record, it is impractical to monitor the detailed status of each appointee," Mead's office wrote in an email statement to the Star-Tribune.

Changes in party affiliation or address, for example, might not come to the governor's attention.

Three Democrats and nine Republicans currently make up the governing board at the state's only public four-year university. They are appointed for six-year terms.

State statute says two trustees may be residents of the same county and "(n)ot more than seven members of the board shall be registered in the same political party."

Mead's office did not say whether it was aware of the oversight.

"Care is taken to make sure each appointee's requirements are legally correct at the time of their appointment," his office said in the statement.

Trustee President Dave Palmerlee said he was not aware of the imbalance but knew of the statute limiting the number of trustees who could be politically aligned.

"I have never seen a hint of partisanship in the board discussions," said Palmerlee, who was appointed to the board in 2005.

Warren Lauer, a board member from Laramie and one of the board's three Democrats, said there's a potential for political differences to arise in board discussions on issues such as whether UW should permit its students to carry firearms on campus.

But on the whole, party membership has not played a major role in his time on the board, he said. He has served on the board since 2005.

"I quite frankly haven't paid any attention as to who was of what party affiliation," Lauer said.

Wyoming has 160 boards and commissions, according to Mead's statement.


Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com

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