State GOP Convention attendees Saturday night at Cam-Plex prior to an altercation which left the Albany County chairman in need of hospitalization.
An Albany County Republican Party Chairman has been cited for assault and battery following an altercation with a fellow party chairman during the Wyoming Republican Party Convention Saturday evening at Cam-Plex.
Albany County Chairman Michael Pearce reportedly was treated for his injuries at Campbell County Memorial Hospital and released following a fist fight with Carbon County Chairman Joey Correnti.
The two men had engaged in a verbal altercation inside the Wyoming Center before walking out of the building, according to a Monday morning statement from the Gillette Police Department, at which point Pearce reportedly punched Correnti in the side of the head.
Correnti responded in defense, according to eyewitnesses, until someone intervened to break it up.
Pearce, who admitted to drinking, per GPD, and was taken to the hospital to be treated for multiple injuries.
According to one party member who attended the event Saturday evening but chose not to give their name, the scuffle had been brewing all evening.
Correnti was seen “holding court – strutting around an axe handle and (open carry) side arm,” the eyewitness said, admitting they hadn’t stuck around for the fight. “I voted and headed out. The extremists only want extremists in the party.”
Correnti, meanwhile, reported damage to his eyeglasses and hearing aid. When contacted, he deferred comment to his attorney Steven Titus, who spoke on his client’s behalf Monday. His client, he said, has since been cleared of all wrongdoing and is currently exploring whether or not to take civil action against Pearce, who Titus said called his client on Monday morning to apologize.
“He’s still not sure why he (Pearce) engaged my client in the altercation,” Titus said, noting that his client responded in defense for his own safety.
As for claims that Correnti had been walking around earlier that night menacingly wielding an “axe handle,” Titus said that he uses this as a cane because he is a disabled veteran.
Others in the party, like Wyoming Senator Michael Von Flatern, who is running this fall to keep his District 24 seat against incumbent Troy McKeown, spoke to the larger problem encroaching on party leadership in general.
“The leadership of the Republican Party has lost their way,” Von Flatern said Monday. “They are trying to make it so that the moderates don’t have any say.”
“No amount of common sense or reason can seem to break through,” he further wrote on Facebook sharing a post regarding the incident.
Gillette resident Felicia Messimer seconded Von Flatern in posting on a share of his comment.
“This behavior is disgusting,” she wrote. “And, I keep seeing people applauding others who display similar and belittling behavior in our community right now … Why can’t we be kind, accept difference, and come to some kind of sensible conclusion.”
Vicki Kissack, chairwoman of the local GOP, could not be reached for comment.
Correnti is currently running for House District 47 in Sweet Water County, and describes himself as a “retired soldier, a professional emcee, and a licensed traditional barber …. an extremely focused constitutional conservative and an active participant in maintaining a strong and free America for over twenty years.”
Pearce, who is an attorney in Laramie County, was suspended by the Wyoming Supreme Court after he was found to have misled one of his clients, among other things, according to an Aug. 15 article in the Laramie Boomerang. The suspension came after Pearce failed to meet court deadlines in two separate court cases, the Boomerang article states, and also failed to comply with court rules and orders in both cases.
Pearce did not immediately answer a request for comment.