Wyoming staffer leaving campaign over faked call to opponent

The press secretary to Wyoming’s Republican candidate for the state’s lone congressional seat is leaving the campaign after reports about a phone call she made to her opponent’s news conference using a fake name and claiming to be a supporter, the Associated Press reported Wednesday afternoon.

Rachael Seidenschnur, who worked as press secretary for the retiring Rep. Barbara Cubin until last month, at first denied using a fake name to call Democrat Gary Trauner during a news conference about the financial crisis.

In an AP story Tuesday, Seidenschnur acknowledged calling the Trauner news conference and asking a question about U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Seidenschnur denied using a fake name and said she did not identify herself as a Trauner supporter.

However, an audio recording by the AP shows the only caller to the news conference who asked about Pelosi and the Democrats’ energy bill identified herself as a Trauner supporter named “Sierra.”

Phone records provided to the AP by the Trauner campaign listed eight numbers of people who called the news conference. The numbers included Seidenschnur’s cell phone number.

Republican candidate Cynthia Lummis said Seidenschnur quit the campaign Wednesday. Lummis told the AP she hadn’t known her press secretary planned to call Trauner but stressed her staff member decided to resign on her own, she wasn’t fired over the phone call.

Trauner declined to answer Seidenschnur’s question during the press conference, saying it was off topic. He said Wednesday his opponent’s campaign indicates how she would govern.

“I think deceit and deception are not Wyoming values,” Trauner said. “With our economy melting down the way it is and all the other issues we have, that type of gotcha politics is not what the people of Wyoming want.”

Seidenschnur asked whether Trauner supported Nancy Pelosi’s position on offshore drilling, but Trauner deflected the question because his news conference concerned proposals for a massive federal bailout of financial institutions. “I wanted folks to know. I think that was a fair question,” Seidenschnur told the AP on Tuesday. “I wasn’t in any way, you know, derogatory.”

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Ernest Luning

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