Wyoming senator’s comments about group draw fire
AP, Jan. 1, 2003
CASPER, Wyo. – A leader of the white supremacist World Church of the Creator has filed an ethics complaint against state Sen. Robert Peck for comments Peck made in a story in the Rocky Mountain News last week.
In a Dec. 26 story, Peck, R-Riverton, criticized the group’s move to Fremont County from East Peoria, Ill., and said he was told local church leader Thomas Kroenke’s lease will not be renewed.
Peck, publisher of the Riverton Ranger newspaper, was quoted saying Kroenke’s landlord told him he would not renew the lease. Peck also said the town would not wait for any incidents before acting.
“The general community posture is to make Mr. Kroenke so uncomfortable he will leave,” Peck said in the story.
Kroenke wrote state Senate President Henry “Hank” Coe, R-Cody, on Monday about the comments and filed an ethics complaint against Peck.
“I am very concerned that Senator Peck has publicly advocated that I be persecuted because of my religious beliefs,” Kroenke wrote.
Kroenke said Peck has urged that he be denied housing, which violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
“Somehow, Senator Peck has completely forgotten the fact that equal protection under the law applies to everyone,” Kroenke wrote.
Peck said the complaint was “without foundation.” He said the article pared key information, such as that Peck had heard about Kroenke’s lease through secondhand information.
“I’ve spent my life trying to build this community,” Peck said. “Having ideas such as this coming out of our community is a negative turn of events.”
Peck said he is not advocating that Kroenke be denied housing.
“My comments were relative to the ideas that he and his supposed church are espousing and not directed to him personally,” Peck said.
Coe planned to review the complaint when the Legislature convenes Jan. 14. Kroenke and other church officials could not be reached for comment. The World Church of the Creator and its leaders have come under fire since the Rev. Matt Hale announced last month that he would move the group’s world headquarters to Riverton.