The headquarters office of the Laramie, Wyoming GOP was vandalized and a fire was set, destroying campaign materials and furniture, the county chair confirmed in an interview with Heavy.
Ben McKay, the chairman of the Albany County, Wyoming Republican Party, told Heavy in an interview that the office was new and had just been set up by the College Republicans, who “came to help our party do all the decorating this Tuesday” September 4, 2018.
The party was scheduled to hold an event on Thursday, September 6, 2018 when the vandalism and fire occurred. “We don’t raise enough funds to justify an office all year long. So, we just opened it for the general election season and just got it off the ground and were ready to hold events,” McKay told Heavy.
He explained that around 3:15 a.m. on September 6, a call came into dispatch when a passerby “noticed the fire and called it in. It looks like someone broke into a window and then set one fire in the building.”
Added McKay, “We are extremely happy no one was hurt or worse. There is an individual who lives above the office but luckily the fire department got to it before anyone was endangered or before property was severely damaged. We’re happy it didn’t spread.” He said the office was “part of our historic downtown” in the City of Laramie, adding, “We were really excited to have an office down there.”
McKay said the suspect is not yet known and federal investigators are involved.
“I know just personally I am amazed this happened in our small town in Wyoming; we’re used to seeing this type of news coming from large cities, but never places like Laramie. I do think it’s telling about the state of civil discourse today,” said McKay. He added that it “saddens me greatly.”
“I think in this country we have a very unique and special opportunity to talk about our differences and debate them and decide for themselves how the country” should proceed, he said, calling for peaceful civil discourse. What happened in Laramie “has no place in American democracy or in our civil society,” said McKay.
“I hope that whoever did this, the law enforcement officers find them and justice is served and we can carry forward,” he said, describing Laramie as a college town and thus more purple than other areas of largely red Wyoming. The party hosted its convention there recently with no issues. “This is really new for us,” he said of the vandalism.
McKay said the damage estimate is not yet known, but “it appears to be campaign materials and a couple pieces of furniture.”
He added that the party was hoping the office could be “a home for us and a place for them,” referring to the College Republicans, and he said the party hopes to move back into the office “and carry on.”
The party is looking for a new venue to host its scheduled event, which was a meet-and-greet for county commission candidates.
“We won’t send the message that this kind of behavior can have any substantial effect on what we are doing,” said McKay.
The first news of the vandalism came according to a report by journalist Joel Funk of the Laramie Boomerang newspaper.
The journalist reported that the vandalism involved a fire that endangered a person who was living in the building.
“The #Laramie GOP headquarters was the target of vandalism this morning. A fire on the first floor of the downtown office put public safety at serious risk, including a resident living in the 2nd floor apartment. We’ll have a story soon,” Funk wrote on Twitter.
He also shared a photo of the vandalism that occurred at the Republican HQ. Here’s that photo:
The city of Laramie is the county seat of Albany County and has about 30,000 residents.
President Donald Trump Won Wyoming During the 2016 Presidential Election
Wyoming is regarded as a Republican-leaning state by a wide margin. President Donald Trump easily won the state during the 2016 presidential election.
Trump won Wyoming with 68.2 percent of the vote.
This article will be updated as more information is learned about the Laramie GOP vandalism, including the name of any suspect.