House declines action on residency complaint

Carrie Haderlie with the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, from the Wyoming News Exchange

CHEYENNE — By a 36-24 vote, the Wyoming House of Representatives failed to approve a motion that would have created a special committee to investigate whether Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, lives in House District 43.

The motion, made by Rep. Tim Hallinan, R-Gillette, was to convene a committee of five members, which he said could meet and investigate the complaints, over as short a time span as four days. He proposed that all meetings be held in private.

“The House is in a very difficult position with this issue. We have all worked with Rep. Zwonitzer. We respect him, and we want to support him,” Hallinan said. “But we also have an obligation to the honor of the House.”

Zwonitzer also addressed the House on Tuesday afternoon.

“The body is aware of my response to this complaint,” Zwonitzer said. “It has been very public. I sold my previous house, and I moved to a different residence in my district. I do not dispute my family bought another property east of town, and I visit it regularly. But I have always intended to maintain residency in District 43. I continue to maintain residency.”

Zwonitzer said he did not believe he had any further information to submit on the issue.

Zwonitzer serves as the co-chair of the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee, which was tasked with the state’s decennial redistricting process following the 2020 Census.

Last month, Wyoming Republican Party Chairman Frank Eathorne filed a complaint with the Secretary of State’s Office alleging that Zwonitzer did not live inside his district. This came after Joey Correnti IV, chairman of the Carbon County Republican Party, brought his concerns to the Wyoming Republican Party. The complaint was forwarded to the speaker of the House.

Lawmakers from the House spoke both in favor of and against the motion.

Bob Nicholas, R-Cheyenne, said he was against the motion.

"It is a fairly simple issue. The facts are simple, and the decision is simple. There is no need to have a committee review," Nicholas said. "The issue is, does he currently reside in his district, and does he intend to stay in his district? You heard his own statement, and I have a copy of where he lives if you want to drive by. I have driven by. I have a copy of his lease agreement where he is currently residing. That is what the issue is, statutorily and constitutionally.”

Before the motion failed, Rep. Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan, spoke in favor of it.

"What we are looking for is the truth," Jennings said. "It behooves each of us, we all raised our arms and took an oath. This is one of the most unpleasant things we are going to be faced with. That make it very important that we get to the truth."

After the motion failed, Speaker Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, said he considered the matter closed.

"Members, I consider the question of Rep. Zwonitzer's qualifications to serve in the 66th House of Representatives to be resolved in and before and by the 66th Wyoming House of Representatives," Barlow said.


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