Adios, Ed Murray: Wyoming’s Secretary of State caps off his week with sex assault accusations and a resignation

By on February 15, 2018

 

Adios, Ed Murray. (PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Wyoming’s Secretary of State, Ed Murray, capped off his agency’s week with a Friday afternoon press release. Earlier in the week, the agency had announced it was celebrating the 125th anniversary of Wyoming’s Great Seal, and that the Secretary agreed with the decision to halt President Trump’s election commission — which after a year had been unable to determine who Trump could blame for his not having won the popular vote in November 2016.

Not to be completely pedestrian, Friday afternoon’s news carried a bit more gravitas; Murray was resigning as Secretary of State following two sexual assault accusations leveled against him in December and January.

Wyoming, it seems, is not immune from the #metoo movement, which has torn across the media, business and political landscape of the nation, finally landing with a muted thud here in the Equality State.

Murray, a Republican who won the office in 2014 — and who was seen by many in the state as a potential candidate to take over for Governor Matt Mead who will leave office due to term limits in 2019 — said his decision came at the end of “After deep and profound contemplation,” and that the decision came so that Murray could, “fully focus on what is most important in my life: my marriage, my family and my health.”

“I’ve come to the realization that I am unable to focus entirely on serving the good people of Wyoming while simultaneously needing to process all the fallout from these allegations,” Murray said in the release.

Murray’s problems began back in December when Tatiana Maxwell posted an allegation accusing Murray of sexual assault in 1982, when Maxwell was an 18-year-old intern working at a law office in Cheyenne. Murray, Maxwell said, was a young attorney a few years older than she who had just recently graduated law school.

According to the allegation, posted on Facebook, Murray purchased Domino’s pizza and beer and the couple sat in a receptionist’s area in the law office when Murray made sexual advances toward the 18-year-old woman. She resisted, she said in her post, saying she struggled and “wouldn’t let him unbutton my pants kept it from going further.”

Maxwell then alleged in her post that Murray, “…wrestled me down to the carpet in front of the receptionist desk, opened his pants, lifted up my blouse and ejaculated on my stomach.”

After cleaning herself up with a box of tissues from a receptionist’s desk, Maxwell said in her post that Murray apologized for “getting so excited,” but stated Maxwell was, “…just too attractive to resist.”

Murray quickly denied Maxwell’s allegations on December 14, with a press statement sent to some Wyoming media outlets. According to a copy of the entire statement released by television station KGWN, Murray said he was “shocked and appalled” at Maxwell’s allegation, that he denied it and that the allegation was, “deeply hurtful to me and my family.”

Murray went on to say he did not know why Maxwell would have made such an accusation, but that in the context of the #metoo movement, he wanted to acknowledge the importance of the conversation about sexual assault and harassment, and to reiterate his commitment to be an “ally for women.”

Maxwell, a real estate developer in Boulder, Colorado, is a supporter of the Democratic Party, having donated sizable sums to Democrats in Colorado and nationally, according to reporting by the Casper Star-Tribune. That paper also quoted Maxwell as saying, “It supersedes politics. It’s about human behavior. It’s about right and wrong, and it’s about standing up for women.”

For Murray, though, things soon went from bad to worse when in January, a second woman came forth with allegations that Murray had forcibly kissed her when she was 18-years-old and working as a babysitter for Murray’s family. That woman, Theresa Sullivan Twiford, is the daughter of former Governor Mike Sullivan.

According to Twiford’s narrative told to the Casper Star-Tribune, she was home in Cheyenne on break from the University of Wyoming when she agreed to babysit for the Murrays on New Year’s Eve. Once Murray returned home with his wife, he kissed Twiford against her will, allegedly saying, “‘Everyone should have a kiss on New Year’s Eve.”

Murray again was quick to issue a statement saying he did not remember the incident in question. At that time, Murray also said he would not be seeking the office of governor — a position for which he was considered a potential frontrunner by many in the state — nor would he run for reelection as Secretary of State.

By last week, however, Murray’s decision to not run for governor or run again for Secretary of State had morphed into the more sober decision to resign his office and — at least for the time being — leave public life.

The announcement, like many of the type, was made on Friday, long a trick employed in hopes that news is “lost” or fails to take hold during busy weekends. The release came on the heels of announcements by Republican State Senator Leland Christensen and Democrat State Representative Jim Byrd of Cheyenne announced their intentions to run for the office.

In the release, Murray says his family is “devastated,” and that the two allegations have made it too hard for him to focus on the task of being Secretary of State. Murray said he was not asked to resign.

“The truth is no one asked me to resign,” the release read. “The truth is that I loved public service.

“The truth is that my family and I have been devastated as we encountered two allegations in December and January.”

Murray closed out the statement by referencing his previous statement denying the two allegations against him, before going into a litany of his accomplishments as Wyoming Secretary of State, including easing the process for filing for business licenses and an effort to encourage youths to vote.

Maxwell in her original statement accusing Murray had some closing thoughts of her own. She decided to go public with her allegation after 35 years after seeing Murray at two functions over the years where he told her he had been unable to control himself around her that day in the law office in Cheyenne. Maxwell also said she had tried to talk with Murray about clearing the air about the issue prior to going public, but that Murray had never responded.

“One of the hallmarks of so many of the harassment allegations against the men who harass is that it is rarely a single incident,” Maxwell wrote in her statement. “I have certainly heard other rumors regarding Eddie. If there are other women who have stories, I hope this helps them feel less alone.

“Enough is enough.” PJH

 

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