Casper Rep. Gerald Gay Ditches His Own Event
Republican State Rep. Gerald Gay walked out of his own press conference Wednesday.
Gay, whose House District 36 includes east Casper and Evansville, wanted the event at the east side Marriott Hotel at noon to offer a "Response and clarification on the Gender Wage Gap issue."
It was over in two minutes, 45 seconds. (See video below)
Wyoming's gender wage gap, the worst in the country, came under scrutiny after the liberal nonprofit Better Wyoming advocacy group on Sept. 12 published an verbatim interview conducted earlier this year of Gay -- among other legislators -- by veteran Wyoming journalist Kerry Drake.
“Historically, [women] tend to take every sick day that’s available with them them and that’s a gender thing,” Gay told Drake. The interview was a verbatim transcription of a recorded interview, Drake said Wednesday.
Gay later told the Casper Star-Tribune, "'Women in the workforce traditionally take a disproportionate amount of their sick days off for other reasons that sick days,’ he said. ‘They take junior to the hospital or go see Johnny’s soccer game.'”
Social media responses were harsh.
Even the Natrona County Republican Party’s 16-member executive committee issued a statement condemning Gay's comments.
At the press conference, Gay was introduced by Kara Linn, who unsuccessfully ran in the Republican primary for Senate District 27 two years.
Linn was shocked by recent newspaper stories about Gay's comments, and talked with him because she'd never known him to be misogynistic, she said.
Gay told her he would have a press conference and she agreed to help him.
At the beginning, Gay said Drake misreported his words to fit an agenda.
"I would never disparage any working women," he said. "Agenda-based articles written recently have portrayed me differently. I take this opportunity to apologize to any misunderstanding of my words."
Gay did not explain what those agendas were.
He then offered his own response.
My view on this subject is, and always has been, that we must have equal pay for equal work," Gay said. "The fact that the statute lacked teeth signaled the lack of commitment to equal pay in Wyoming.
He has proposed legislation to make it easier for those who believe they have been discriminated against to bring action against employers, and for them to be awarded twice the disputed amount if a court rules in their favor, he said. He is forming a committee to further look at the issue.
Then Gay, who had spine surgery late last year, gripped his walker and headed out the door without responding to questions at the very press conference he called.
Two reporters followed him down the hall, through the lobby, out the door and to his sport utility vehicle. An unidentified assistant was helping Gay with his walker and entering the vehicle, as well as trying to keep the reporters away.
Gay insisted Drake changed his words, which he did not dispute during the subsequent interviews with the Star-Tribune.
He did not call Drake to demand a correction, he said.
Nor was he scared that his Democratic opponent Debbie Bovee may defeat him in the Nov. 8 general election.
Nor did he care to clarify his comments about the gender wage gap as promised in the announcement of the press conference.
"I'm sorry, I don't have a lot of time," he said as he started his SUV.