State lawmakers say a lawsuit's claim that the Wyoming Legislature violated the constitution in how it awarded contracts for work on the capitol renovation project are "without merit."

A release from the Wyoming Legislature Friday evening says the lawsuit comes after the plaintiffs -- Representative Gerald Gay (R-Natrona County) and Evanston resident Karl Allred -- failed in legislative efforts to stop the Capitol Square Project.

Here is the full statement from the Wyoming Legislature:

Thursday, the Attorney General and members of the Capitol Rehabilitation and Restoration Oversight Group, including the Governor, were served with a lawsuit alleging legal violations in the manner in which the Capitol Square Project has been conducted. The lawsuit also makes assertions regarding the manner in which general contracting practices by the State of Wyoming have been handled.

It is critical to note first, that the complaint states that it “makes no accusations against the recipients of contracts for work related to the Capitol Square Project or for other contracts awarded by the State of Wyoming.” The complaint also states that it does not seek to set aside any contract. The complainants seek a court review generally of contract actions taken by the State. 

In regard to the Capitol Square Project, the law directing the management and conduct of the project was passed in 2014 by a vote of 27-3 in the Senate, and 50-10 in the House of Representatives. The legislation was signed by the Governor and duly enacted into law. As with all enacted laws, the law controlling oversight of the Capitol Square Project is presumed constitutional and will only be overturned by the courts upon a clear showing of a constitutional violation. 

As a matter of fact, the manner in which contracts have been issued for the Capitol Square Project has been found to be constitutional by the Wyoming Attorney General. The Attorney General publicly issued a formal opinion on Feb. 12, which addressed many of the exact allegations contained in the lawsuit and found the allegedly improper actions were in accordance with the Wyoming Constitution.

This is not the first time we have heard the allegations in the lawsuit. 2016 House Joint Resolutions 10 and 11 contained many of the same allegations. Those resolutions were received for introduction and published on the legislative Website for the world to see. There has been absolutely no attempt to hide activities of the Oversight Group. The Capitol Rehabilitation and Restoration Oversight Group has worked long hours in public meetings, working as best as it can to accomplish a project, within a set budget, that the people of Wyoming will be proud to call Wyoming’s Capitol Building.

Having failed in the political process to derail efforts to accomplish the Capitol Square Project as mandated by law, the plaintiffs to this lawsuit have now turned to the courts to air their alleged grievances. This is certainly their right. However, we trust that the Wyoming judiciary will view these issues in the same manner as have the Wyoming Legislature, the Governor of Wyoming and the Wyoming Attorney General and will find the allegations without merit. 

The suit filed Thursday in District Court contends that Governor Matt Mead, Attorney General Peter Michael and legislative leaders including Senate President Phil Nicholas (R-Albany County) and House Speaker Kermit Brown (R-Albany County) violated the Wyoming constitution when contracts for work on the Capitol Square project were awarded without issuance of a required Request for Proposals -- and in some cases, those contracts went to Mead's campaign contributors.

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