The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 18 - 12/30/99
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State lands advocate claims politicians made inappropriate comments on tape
by Rob Shaul
State lands advocate John Jolley of Mills, Wyoming, claims he has State Auditor Max Maxfield and State Treasurer Cynthia Lummis making inappropriate and embarrassing comments on tape. Mr. Jolley, who also publishes the Grassroots Advocate, makes his claim in a letter to the editor he e-mailed to most of the newspapers in Wyoming. In the same letter he writes that he "may" play the contents of the tape at a State Lands forum he is organizing in Casper on January 15.
"Dumb and Dumber"
In his letter titled "Dumb and Dumber,", Mr. Jolley claims that Mr. Maxfield and Ms. Lummis jointly returned a call to him from Maxfield's speaker phone. Writes Mr. Jolley, "Using Maxfield's speaker phone, they both left a message and then, obviously thinking they had disconnected, began to make comments in reference to the call for several minutes while engaging in boisterous and uncontrollable laughter." Continues Mr. Jolley, "It is very easy for some politicians, once elected, to treat the voters of this state as dumb, but most of the voters are smart enough to disconnect from an answering machine before making offensive comments."
Mr. Jolley finishes his letter by writing that those who attend his statewide land forum in Casper on January 15 "may have the opportunity to listen to the full text of the answering machine message from Wyoming's State Auditor and State Treasurer . . ."
The state officials verified that they did make a joint speakerphone call to Mr. Jolley and left a message on Mr. Jolley's answering machine. "We don't know what was said after we hung up or who it was said to," continued Ms. Lummis. "When we hung up the phone," added Mr. Maxfield, "we're not sure what we discussed when Cynthia was exiting the office."
Both officials said they have spoken to Mr. Jolley since they left the joint speakerphone message and Mr. Jolley has not mentioned the tape nor asked them questions concerning their comments on the tape. "I'm surprised Mr. Jolley hasn't called and asked us what the meaning of our comments were," said Mr. Maxfield, noting that Mr. Jolley likes to describe himself as being very honest and forthcoming. Mr. Maxfield said he hoped all the newspapers in the state had the courtesy to call himself and Ms. Lummis for comment and at least listen to the tape before printing Mr. Jolley's letter.
Mr. Jolley would not let the Journal listen to the tape. When pressed, he said that if he let the press listen to the tape, the press would then report on its contents. "I want to keep this for the forum and let the people judge for themselves if this is atrocious behavior."
In his letter to the editor and during the interview, Mr. Jolley says he's had five other people listen to the tape and each has "really been offended by it." However, Mr. Jolley would not give the Journal any of the names of the others who have listened to the tape so they could be independently interviewed.
When pressed even further, Mr. Jolley did provide a brief description of what he says is on the tape. He claims that the two officials make disparaging remarks about him on the tape, accompanied by laughter. Altogether, Mr. Jolley says there are "six or seven sentences said with a lot of boisterous laughter, both from Maxfield and especially from Cynthia. She laughed the loudest."
Mr. Jolley continued that the very first thing Mr. Maxfield said after he thought the line was disconnected was, "Now he [Mr. Jolley] can't say that we didn't call him back." To this, Mr. Jolley says Ms. Lummis responded, "I'm very thankful you called him and I'm sure glad he wasn't there." Mr. Jolley says Mr. Maxfield then replied, "Me too."
Overall, Mr. Jolley said he was most upset by the "game playing," and "mocking attitude" the two state officials display toward the public in their supposed comments. He said he was discouraged these comments came from "someone with such a high responsibility. I think it's really terrible."
A Written Apology?
Mr. Jolley added that he would consider not playing the tape at the forum if Mr. Maxfield and Ms. Lummis would provide him with a written apology for their comments prior to the forum. However, Mr. Jolley said he would not let the two listen to the tape before writing their apology.
Neither state official liked this idea. "I won't comment on something he won't let you listen to or let me listen to," said Ms. Lummis.
"Absolutely not," replied Mr. Maxfield to Mr. Jolley's written apology idea. Mr. Maxfield said he would take full responsibility for anything he said on the tape. Further, Mr. Maxfield would be willing to personally pay to have the contents of Mr. Jolley's tape professionally transcribed and distributed. "I wish he'd print it tomorrow," continued Mr. Maxfield. "I wish he'd play it over the radio."
Neither state official will be attending Mr. Jolley's forum on January 15. Both Mr. Maxfield and Ms. Lummis said they had scheduling conflicts which will prevent them from attending. "I won't be coerced into attending his forum, either," said Ms. Lummis. "That's inappropriate and I've already told him why I cannot attend."
The two officials said that together with the other statewide elected officials and Wyoming's congressional delegation, they began organizing last October for another forum on state and federal lands. This forum will be attended by all the statewide elected officials and the congressional delegation and is tentatively scheduled for sometime in April.
For his part, Mr. Jolley would not say for sure if he was going to play the tape at his January forum. "I'll let the people decide," he said.
MR. JOLLEY'S LETTER IS PRINTED BELOW:
DUMB & DUMBER
DUMB: An individual had a broken lamp which he wanted to discard. Unfortunately, the power cord ran under his refrigerator, making it impossible to move the lamp while the cord was attached. He decided to cut the cord, since the lamp was unusable anyway. He didn't remember to unplug it first.
DUMBER: A large motor home was towed into the garage of a large dealership. The front of the vehicle was in dire need of repair and the whole thing generally looked like an extra in "Twister." When the service manager was asked by another customer what had happened, he said the driver had set the cruise control, then went in back to make a sandwich.
And Even Dumber: Politicians who might be prone to talk behind the voters backs should be very, very careful. And the first thing they should always do is to ensure that they have disconnected from the other's telephone line after leaving a message on his answering machine before they begin to talk behind his back.
After Grassroots Advocate had made several telephone attempts to speak to State Auditor Max Maxfield and State Treasurer Cynthia Lummis regarding the statewide land forum, the two of them jointly returned the call from Maxfield's 1office. Using Maxfield's speaker phone, they both left a message and then, obviously thinking they had disconnected, began to make comments in reference to the call for several minutes while engaging in boisterous and uncontrollable laughter.
It is very easy for some politicians, once elected, to treat the voters of this state as dumb, but most of the voters are at least smart enough to disconnect from an answering machine before making offensive comments.
Those who have listened to the full, unedited message on my answering machine have expressed comments varying from "outrageous" to "sickening." One stated, "I always suspected that some politicians were devious, but this confirms my suspicions." Another stated that it is sickening to think that people in high positions could ridicule the public in that manner. And another said, "It's a total outrage and they should be removed from office."
On January 15th, those who attend the statewide land forum in Casper may have the opportunity to listen to the full text of the answering machine message from Wyoming's State Auditor and State Treasurer. Then the people of this state can be the judge - who really is the dumber - the voter or the politician - and whether they also are offended.
John Jolley, Mills
Editor's Note: This letter was edited. In his original letter, Mr. Jolley listed Ms. Lummis as the Secretary of State. She is actually the State Treasurer.
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