Workers allege Wyoming treasurer made threats; Meier denies allegations


Workers allege Wyoming treasurer made threats; Meier denies allegations, Wyoming Treasurer Curt Meier threatened employees in the state's Human Resources Division last month, workers there told a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper, an allegation Meier denied in a preemptive statement

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Wyoming Treasurer Curt Meier threatened employees in the state's Human Resources Division last month, workers there told a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper, an allegation Meier denied in a preemptive statement released Tuesday.

The highway patrol investigated the March 21 incident and closed the inquiry last week after concluding no criminal violations had occurred, the report states.

According to the highway patrol report, Meier allegedly threatened violence against members of the Human Resources Division due to issues related to employee retention, becoming 'increasingly agitated' by his employees leaving for better-compensated positions in both the governor's and auditor's offices, the document states.

'Believing he was being treated unfairly by the human resources department, he stated he had already verbally beat up the department, but now he was going to have to do it physically,' the report states.

That comment caused enough concern to prompt the lockdown of the division, according to the document. Two top officials within the highway patrol — Col. Kebin Haller and Maj. Keith Groeneweg — later arrived on the scene, saying they would 'look into the matter,' the report states.

In a statement released Tuesday morning, Meier denied the allegations.

'Let me be clear: I unequivocally deny that I made any threat,' Meier said in a statement. 'My conversations with Human Resources have always been professional and, in fact, I have never even visited HR since my election.'

It was initially unclear what incident prompted the statement from Meier, which was sent to the press by his office Tuesday morning. The statement appeared to precede publication of the allegations themselves.

Meier's statement referred to a highway patrol incident report. A copy of the report was posted on the Cowboy State Daily, a news website, early Tuesday afternoon. A Wyoming Highway Patrol official later confirmed its authenticity.

Jim Angell, a journalist at Cowboy State Daily, said the highway patrol provided him a copy of the report at about 9:45 a.m. based on a public records request. Meier released his statement at 10:25 a.m. — roughly 40 minutes later. Angell told the Star-Tribune he had not yet contacted Meier's office for comment at the time Meier released his statement.

In his statement, Meier said he was notified by Wyoming Highway Patrol that the report had been filed against him but that the investigation had been closed with no wrongdoing reported.

'Because Treasurer Meier is such a huge proponent of transparency in government, he wanted to preempt any release of that report by getting out ahead of it, by being proactive rather than reactive,' Deputy Treasurer Dawn Williams told the Star-Tribune on Tuesday morning.

Emailed and voicemailed requests for comment to the Human Resources Division were not immediately returned Tuesday. A spokesperson for Gov. Mark Gordon's office also declined comment.

The report also mentioned one incident when Meier had allegedly been seen 'aggressively cornering' State Auditor Kristi Racines prior to a meeting March 21 at the temporary capitol building in Cheyenne.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Racines said she was aware of the report and had seen it but declined to comment on or confirm the accuracy of specific details within the report, saying she preferred to leave the past behind her.

'I currently have a good working relationship with the treasurer, and I look forward to the future,' Racines said, noting that she and Meier have participated in several meetings together since the alleged incident.

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'To me, it's really in the past,' she added.

According to the report, Patricia Bach, the interim director of the Wyoming Administration and Information Office, told a trooper that Meier and his office had been increasingly agitated over his employees leaving for opportunities at other state agencies, including the governor's and auditor's office. Specifically, according to the report, Meier was frustrated with human resources' inability to reclassify his employees positions to compete with higher salaries in other agencies within state government.

Two days prior to the March 21 incident, Meier had a conversation with A&I Deputy Director, Russ Noel, regarding his inability to retain employees, the report read. According to the document, Meier sounded 'very annoyed' during the call, Noel told police, but was not acting rudely.

Gordon, Meier's predecessor, took several top employees from the state treasurer's office with him into the governor's office. Following his election in November, Gordon named three former staffers to his executive leadership team, hiring away two additional staffers from the office following the 2019 legislative session, according to a spokesperson.

While the auditor's office had taken on just one staffer from the treasurer's office — executive assistant Kathy Ramsey — her hiring was the only one specifically mentioned in the report. According to the document, Meier was frustrated the auditor's office could offer Ramsey a position two levels higher than anything he could offer in his office, something the report said he was not able to do as easily.

Meier was elected treasurer in November. Before taking state office, Meier served in the Wyoming Senate for more than two decades.

Star-Tribune editor Joshua Wolfson contributed to this report.

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