Some Wyoming lawyers upset about former Vice-President Cheney's speech at state bar convention

Ben Neary / The Associated Press
September 4, 2014 07:57 PM

FILE - In a Dec. 13, 2013 file photo, former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney smiles as he talks about his new book, "Heart: An American Medical Odyssey," at Little America Hotel and Resort in Cheyenne, Wyo. The Wyoming State Bar invited Cheney, a prominent Republican with deep Wyoming ties, to be keynote speaker at its annual convention banquet Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. Some lawyers are objecting, both to Cheney’s selection and to how the bar announced his appearance. (AP Photo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Miranda Grubbs, File)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Former Vice-President Dick Cheney can be a polarizing figure even six years out of office.

The Wyoming State Bar invited Cheney, a prominent Republican with deep Wyoming ties, to be keynote speaker at its annual convention next week.

Some lawyers are objecting — both to Cheney's selection and to how the bar announced his appearance.

The state bar is a quasi-governmental entity that administers the legal profession using some taxpayer money. In its announcement of Cheney's speech, it published an unedited biography submitted by Cheney in which he criticized President Barack Obama, saying he weakened the United States' security posture.

The biography submitted by Cheney noted that he and former President George W. Bush left office in January 2009.

"Shortly thereafter, President Obama began to dismantle the security policies that had kept the nation safe," the Cheney biography stated. "His policy decisions have led to a reversal of the gains America made in the war on terror in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, and a weakening of America across the globe."

Sharon Wilkinson, executive director of the state bar, said Cheney's office provided the biographical information and that the bar ran it without editing it.

The latest edition of the state bar magazine, Wyoming Lawyer, featured an apology from the bar for running Cheney's material.

"Certain remarks that appeared in Vice-President Cheney's biography in the annual meeting registration materials have prompted expressions of concern from several members who viewed those comments as inappropriate for a Wyoming State Bar publication," said the editor's note in the magazine. It said the bar would re-examine its longstanding practice of running speakers' biographical materials without editing them.

Wilkinson said the bar heard from a handful of lawyers who said they wouldn't attend the convention because of its choice of Cheney as keynote speaker. "And as you can imagine, many are thrilled with our choice and are looking forward to attending," she said.


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