Official defends remarks about white separatist

By Associated Press, Jan. 3, 2003

RIVERTON, Wyo. – Senate President Henry “Hank” Coe says that Sen. Bob Peck committed no ethics violation with remarks he made about a member of a white separatist church.

Peck, R-Riverton, was interviewed by the Rocky Mountain News for a Dec. 26 story about the World Church of the Creator, which recently moved its headquarters to Riverton from East Peoria, Ill.

Peck, who publishes The Riverton Ranger, criticized the church’s move.

He also said the landlord of Thomas Kroenke, a top church official, will not renew Kroenke’s lease.

“The general community posture is to make Mr. Kroenke so uncomfortable he will leave,” Peck told the News.

Kroenke wrote Coe, R-Cody, to complain about the remarks, saying they violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

“Somehow, Sen. Peck has completely forgotten the fact that equal protection under the law applies to everyone,” Kroenke wrote.

Coe said there is no basis to the allegation.

“Sen. Peck is an incredible person, great friend and great legislator,” Coe said. “He feels very strongly about his hometown, as I do mine, and I personally don’t feel he has done anything wrong in his capacity as a state senator.”

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,” he said.

Kroenke is the hastus primus, or spearhead, of the church.

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