Enzi’s comments at Greybull High School stir controversy

Last Thursday, April 20, U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) visited Greybull High School for a scheduled Q&A with students in grades 6–12. During his visit Enzi called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “illegal,” said Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ job will be to shut down a large part of the Department of Education, and responded to a question about LGBTQ rights in Wyoming with an anecdote about a man being surprised at the fact that he gets beat up for “wearing a tutu to the bar.”

Enzi started his trip off with a tour of Greybull High School, meeting with students in Dawn Thur’s life skills class, Mike Blissett’s math class and Josh Heinemeyer’s economics class.

While speaking to Heinemeyer’s economics students, Enzi called the CFPB “illegal,” explaining that the watchdog agency operates with a structure that is unconstitutional.

Created by the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, the CFPB was established to provide consumer protection in the financial sector. It retains oversight of several financial institutions including banks, payday lenders, debt collectors and other financial companies operating within the U.S.

Enzi told students to “watch what [the Senate does] later in the year to see if [they] get rid of it.”

Later, during a scheduled Q&A, Enzi fielded questions from Greybull Middle and High School students.

When asked his thoughts about the GOP’s failed attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Enzi attributed the failure of the American Health Care Act to the complexity and nuances of the legislative process.

“Any time [legislation] goes to the greater body, there are some other ideas,” he said. “There were some people who insisted their ideas be in it before it was voted on.”

A staff member from Greybull Middle School asked Enzi whether he thought Sec. DeVos’ “single controlling belief about education — that choice is good” fits rural districts across Wyoming.

Enzi responded by stating a portion of Sec. DeVos’ job will be to “shut down a big part of the federal Department of Education.”

“There were a whole bunch of forms that people had to fill out to see if they met the federal compliance or not. That adds a huge cost,” he said, going on to state 259 individuals are currently employed to help ensure districts are in compliance with federal regulations.

Enzi said cutting that part of the department would provide more funds for education.

“They get paid more than any teacher in Wyoming,” he said. “That should be a little bit of savings in education money that actually comes back to the states. That’s what Sec. DeVos is in charge of — finding out what shouldn’t be working at the federal level and shutting that down.”

Enzi closed his remarks on Sec. DeVos by praising her memory for rural issues, referencing an instance during her confirmation testimony where she recalled Wapiti Elementary School’s “bear fence” as a potential justification for allowing guns in schools.

For the last question from students, sophomore Bailee Foster asked Sen. Enzi about the LGBTQ community — specifically what he was doing to help Wyoming live up to its nickname as The Equality State.

Enzi prefaced his response by stating that several situations across Wyoming cannot be taken care of by laws alone; that not every issue has a “federal, one-size-fits-all solution.”

“That’s one of the problems we have in this country; thinking that everything could be done by law,” he said. “What we need to have is a little civility between people.”

Enzi went on to say that he enjoys Wyoming because “you can be just about anything you want to be, as long as you don’t push it in somebody’s face.” He followed his statement up with an anecdote about a man wearing a tutu being surprised that he gets in fights at the bar.

“I know a guy who wears a tutu and goes to bars on Friday night and is always surprised that he gets in fights. Well, he kind of asks for it. That’s the way that he winds up with that kind of problem,” he said, reemphasizing his belief that “everything can’t be done by law.”

“The biggest thing that we need is civility,” he said.

In a statement issued by the Wyoming Democratic Party, Chair Joe Barbuto wrote that Enzi’s comments were “not just inappropriate,” but also ugly and backwards.

“Senator Enzi’s comment was not just inappropriate, it was ugly and indicative of a kind of backwards thinking that has no place in today’s society. It only makes matters worse that his remark was made to a group of young students,” he wrote.

“Let me be clear: no one deserves or is asking to be punished for simply being who they are. The Senator should already know that,” Barbuto added.

According to Enzi’s Press Secretary Max D’Onofrio, the Senator’s comments have been taken out of context.

“Senator Enzi believes all individuals should be treated with respect,” he wrote. “[Enzi] does not believe that anyone should be bullied, intimidated or attacked because of their beliefs. This is a hot button issue and emotions can run high, but no one should take his remarks out of context or misconstrue them to mean anything but advocacy of kindness toward our fellow citizens.

A rough transcript of Sen. Enzi’s remarks to Greybull students can be found here.

You can listen to Sen. Enzi’s full Q&A here.

14 comments

  1. This is the way Enzi helps us? By supporting cutting education. I can’t believe the stupidity of what he said. “Oh there are so many forms. We need to get rid of all those forms.” Does he think we’re stupid?

  2. He is no longer representing us, the citizens of Wyoming, he has bought into the Washington regurgitate machine. DeVos memories of Wapiti were mocked by the people of Wapiti. He maintained the good ol’ boy rhetoric that you deserved to get your ass kicked if you dress or behave differently. Just because he surrounded those statements by “nicespeak” doesn’t mean that it’s O.K. It’s not. Enzi needs to go!

  3. I don’t live in his state but believe this man does not represent his state well. He sounds out of touch and a younger more invigorated person should replace him. Wyoming – you can do better than this!

  4. The guy who wears the tutu: Who is he? What does he have to say? If he gets into fights all the time, do police know him? Maybe he wins the fights? Please fact-check Enzi. Who is the Tutu Guy????

  5. How is identifying as LGBT “shoving in someone’s face”? If we use that logic heterosexual people/couples should stop ‘shoving’ their sexual orientation in ‘other’s faces’.

    Enzi’s comments were a terrible teaching moment for high school students.

  6. I don’t live in WY now. I lived in Cody and explored your mountains. So many places dear to my soul. I still think it’s the most beautiful place in the West.
    Senator Enzi is not representing Wyoming. He represents the banks and businesses. He lied to those students in Greybull. Used his position as Senator for a voice of authority. Senator Enzi desecrated Wyoming values. His authority is about coercion and has nothing to do with human need and life. And it’s the same behavior I saw when I was in Cody.

  7. Basically, the message Enzi has promoted is one of, “act like, look like, think like me, or you and your life do not matter”. Yes, that’s just the kind of thinking Wyoming needs more of. NOT! Enzi is out of touch with this modern world, and has no understanding of what it means to promote the love and respect of all human beings. If God had come down at that moment and stared Enzi in the eye, what do you think Enzi would have done? I suspect he would have gotten down on his knees to ask for forgiveness for being so stupid, and unkind towards others. But that’s just me. Maybe he would have said, “Oh, God. We don’t need your kind here. You’re not wearing a suit.”.

  8. So disgusted that we have this ignorance in our government. Trump just signed a law to allow the killing of baby bears and wolves in their dens, Arkansas is conveyor belting executions because of an expiration date on their drug. Betsy DeVos is gutting public education in favor of private schools and now Enzi is condoning attacks on the LGBT community for wearing Tutu’s. People get out and vote these morons out

  9. I’m always amazed at politicians who come up with impossible anecdotes to justify their positions. So, Enzi, you *know* a guy who goes out to bars in a tutu? Which bars does he go to? How do you know this guy? What city or town does he live in? A few quick questions would probably show there is no such person, he’s just, as Sarah Palin would say, “Makin’ stuff up!”

    You say this imaginary guy in a tutu deserves it? So….if I were walk up to this guy Enzi and smack him across the face, I could then say “Well, he asked for it! Since I’m 64, I could be excused from being accused of elder abuse.

  10. His first answer probably reflects his opinion on the issue. His second is just him covering his butt when people are horrified he’s blaming the victims of violence. It’s this sort of Republicanism that guarantees I’ll never vote for a Republican again.

  11. I guess if a woman goes to a bar in a short skirt and gets raped, “Well, she kind of asked for it!” Enzi sounds like another birdbrained Republican jackass. MAGA: Morons Are Governing America. G.O.P. = Gang of Pinheads.

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