Chuck Gray Responds to Rep. Steve Harshman’s Insults During Special Session
On Wednesday, Representative Chuck Gray put out a video statement to his social media pages in which he addressed the comments made by Rep. Steve Harshman during last week's special session.
On Thursday, October 28, Harshman was recorded on a "hot mic," cursing out Rep. Gray after Gray proposed an amendment to House Bill 1001, in an effort to stop the Biden administration employer vaccine mandate.
Harshman was participating in the session remotely, and was recorded hurling an insult towards Rep. Gray, along with various swear words.
Representative Scott Clem shared the moment to his Facebook page.
"Former Speaker of the House Steve Harshman desecrated the Capitol by using expletive language to apparently malign to attack Rep. Chuck Gray (who is doing an excellent job at defending your freedom from the Biden vaccine mandate by the way)," Clem wrote. "It was a hot mic moment for Harshman. What's worse is he did this in the middle of open session in the People's House. This is appalling and completely unacceptable."
Harshman later apologized for his comments. He spoke in person at the start of the House's floor session.
“Members of the 66th, I drove down this morning to apologize to all of you as a group and a body and our staff and specifically to Representative Gray,” Harshman stated. “What happened yesterday was a breach of conduct on the floor of this House and it is not acceptable. I come here to apologize for that.
“While attending remotely yesterday, as kind of the passion of debate which we all know, I stepped away from my computer, I thought the audio was on and I murmured some cuss words to myself which were degrading to Representative Gray. And so those vulgar words then were broadcast on this floor. And, so, then that is a breach of decorum on this floor and we all work hard to keep that decorum. And so I apologize for that. It is wrong and I know better than that.”
Speaker of the House Eric Barlow chastised Harshman and stated that he had breached conduct in three different cases:
- Addressing the body without leave of the chair
- Invoking the name of another member
- Using language that is inappropriate in the chamber
As a consequence, Barlow told Harshman he would no longer be able to participate in the special session virtually.
Originally, Rep. John Bear was planning to bring a motion to censure Rep. Harshman, but has since decided against it, according to the Casper Star Tribune.
On Wednesday, Rep. Gray issued a statement about the situation.
"I wanted to talk a little bit about Representative Harshman's comments from last week," Gray stated. "They were totally inappropriate and I wanted to provide a little bit of a context of why they happened, because there's a larger story here about what has happened in the House many times and I think it's very troubling."
Gray continued, stating that, "Last Thursday, we had a debate on the Federal preemption issue. And [House] Bill 1001 has this statement, and it is still there; the statement that the Bill goes away if a Federal mandate is ever in place. And I think that's very disturbing. I mean, a Federal mandate is clearly unconstitutional, outside of the powers granted to the Federal government in the United States Constitution. It is also clearly an unconstitutional delegation of congressional authority to the Executive Branch. It's just unconstitutional in a variety of ways.
"For this state bill to have this statement, that the bill just goes away if there's a federal mandate, and just to concede the Federal government preempts (which is wrong; they don't)...the media can claim they do all they want, but it's not true because it's not a constitutional action. So to have that statement in there that the bill goes away with the Federal mandate is very troubling...it wasn't needed and it was wrong.
"And so I brought an amendment to discuss it. I think it was important that we try to remove that, that we remove it and that we have that discussion, and then I called for a recorded vote. Now, amendments do not receive recorded votes, which I am very troubled by. I've been troubled by it since I became a member. I think it's an important issue, I called for a recorded vote, and there are many members that don't like that. And that was the context for the wrong comments. I think there's a larger story here. It just shows that this reaction to recorded votes [is] totally wrong. Members should be on the record on issues that come before the legislature. We need accountability. I've called for recorded votes in the past, I called for it there, and I stand by that because it's important for members of the legislature to be on the record.
"So, I was very troubled by the comments. I think it was very unfortunate."
K2 Radio News has reached out to Rep. Gray via email, but so far there has been no response. We will update this story accordingly.
Full video of Rep. Gray's comments can be seen below.