Hageman announces bid for Wyo. governor
When she was nine years old, Harriet Hageman knew that she was going to be an attorney. After attending law school at the University of Wyoming, and subsequently 29 years of practicing law, Hageman announced her candidacy earlier this month to run for the office of Governor of Wyoming.
Hageman grew up on a ranch outside of Fort Laramie, Wyoming, the fifth of seven children. The Hageman family had no television or telephone, but Hageman says that they read a lot, talked a lot and were always aware of what was happening in world events.
“My parents were active in politics, they were active in the Stock Growers, my mom was active in Cow-Belles and we just paid an awful lot of attention to what was going on around the world,” she says.
She never wavered from her decision to become an attorney, and her first job out of law school was a one-year clerkship in Wyoming. Then, she wanted to experience a new part of the country and, because her family was so well known in Wyoming, Hageman wanted to make a name for herself on her own merit.
Hageman moved to Michigan in the fall of 1990. Four years later, she knew it was time to return west and moved to Denver, Colorado where she continued to practice law. She returned to Wyoming in 1977 to work for the Attorney General’s office as a trial attorney on Nebraska v. Wyoming, a dispute over the North Platte River, in what would become the first of many water and natural resource cases for her over the ensuing 20 years. Three years later, she and then-partner Kara Brighton opened their own law firm in Cheyenne. When Brighton was appointed to serve on the Public Service Commission in 2013, the firm’s name became known as simply “Hageman Law.”
Hageman has worked on many federal issues, including representing the State of Wyoming in the ‘roadless’ lawsuit.
“The Forest Service put into place the ‘roadless rule’ which denied access, management and use to 58.5 million acres of National Forest Service lands in the U.S., including 3.2 million acres in the state of Wyoming,” she says. “The Forest Service’s regulations have ultimately caused substantial damage to our national forests with catastrophic forest fires and the pine beetle outbreak being just some of the problems associated with that decision.”
It was through her work on the ‘roadless rule’ that Hageman started doing a lot of investigation into what was going on in federal agencies. Her eyes were opened to the fact that federal agencies have been working tirelessly to expand their power and authority in what she saw as being contrary to the foundation of the constitution and the concept of separation of powers.
“Essentially, these agencies are acting as legislators,” Hageman says. “Just like the ‘roadless rule,’ that was not approved by Congress, that was not a law or a bill, that was not debated by the American people. It was a regulation adopted by an agency that has had an enormous impact on those states where has been put into effect.”
Hageman found records and reports demonstrating that the Forest Service knew from the beginning that the ‘roadless rule’ would potentially be destructive to the environment, but they went forward with it.
She is forthcoming about her feelings of what she calls an “overreach by the federal government,” something that she has seen a lot of, especially toward the agricultural industry, and something that as Governor, she hopes to do something about.
Throughout her career, Hageman has represented both irrigation districts and private property owners against the EPA’s efforts to use the Clean Water Act to take jurisdiction over small parcels of land in Wyoming. She has worked closely with Wyoming Farm Bureau and other agricultural groups, educating members on current water issues that they need to be aware of to protect their water rights. She worked for 15 years to force the Fish and Wildlife Service to approve the Wyoming Wolf Management Plan, succeeding in February of 2017.
“Harriet has made no qualms about standing up to the federal government on things like the water rights and the endangered species act,” says Ken Hamilton, executive vice president of Wyoming Farm Bureau. “She’s made it pretty clear that she would fight pretty hard for Wyoming and those particular issues.”
Hageman says that she believes that the federal government should not dictate how Wyomingites live their lives, manage their water, raise their food or manage their resources. As Governor, Hageman says that she will ensure agricultural producers are actively involved in the decision making that will affect their industry.
“I want to protect Wyoming, I want to protect Wyoming citizens and I want to protect our industries from this federal overreach and other outside influences,” Hageman says.