After voting to impeach former President Trump and getting ousted as head of the GOP Conference Chair, Rep. Liz Cheney now has to fend off a slew of Wyomingites with their sights set on her House seat. One of them is Anthony Bouchard, a conservative Republican and a member of the Wyoming Senate. But Bouchard is juggling a controversy of his own: On Thursday, he revealed that he impregnated a 14-year-old girl when he was 18, comparing their whirlwind romance to Romeo and Juliet.
From the Casper Star-Tribune, emphasis ours:
Bouchard, who did not specify the girl’s age in the video, said he went public with the information to get ahead of the story after learning that people were investigating it in opposition to his candidacy. A Wyoming state senator since 2017, Bouchard has risen in prominence since announcing he would challenge Rep. Liz Cheney following her vote to impeach then-President Donald Trump.
“So, bottom line, it’s a story when I was young, two teenagers, girl gets pregnant,” he said in the Facebook Live video. “You’ve heard those stories before. She was a little younger than me, so it’s like the Romeo and Juliet story.”
Bouchard told the Star-Tribune he married the girl when she was 15 and he was 19. At the time, they were both living in Florida.
“A lot of pressure. Pressure to abort a baby. I got to tell you. I wasn’t going to do it, and neither was she,” he said. “And there was pressure to have her banished from their family. Just pressure. Pressure to go hide somewhere. And the only thing I could see as the right thing to do was to get married and take care of him.”
Florida state law at the time allowed anyone to be married at any age with a judge’s approval if there was a pregnancy involved and with the parental consent of the underage party. Bouchard and the girl were divorced three years later. The unidentified woman reportedly died by suicide when she was 20. Bouchard told his supporters that he raised their son after her death, but calls their relationship borderline estranged.
Bouchard said, “Sadly, [my son] made some wrong choices in his life...Some of the things that he’s got going on his life, I certainly don’t approve of them. But I’m not going to abandon him. I still love him. Just like when he was born.”
He told the Star-Tribune that while he didn’t want to hide anything, he also doesn’t want family matters to get dragged into his political campaign.
“Quite frankly, is this the worst you’ve got on me?” Bouchard challenged during his 13-minute long Facebook Live. “They wouldn’t be doing this to me if I wasn’t in the lead.”
Bouchard is framing this as a tragic story between two consenting teens. He takes a moment during the video to go off-camera and compose himself, appearing to be on the brink of tears. The sprawling Wyoming landscape behind him only adds to the image of Bouchard as a humble man who was humbled by a youthful transgression. But this wasn’t a relationship between an 18-year-old and a 16-year-old, or a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old. Something about the prospect of a high school senior or graduate having a relationship with an 8th grader just brings an ick factor into this equation.
The fact that one of his biggest supporters is Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Congressman who is under federal inquiry for allegedly having a sexual relationship with an underage girl, doesn’t help the optics here. Will Wyoming Republicans care about this decades-old case of apparent statutory rape, however?
Probably not. The comment section of Bouchard’s page certainly supports this assumption: “Everyone has ghosts in the closet;” “We’re still behind you and proud you gave your son a life;” “You did the right thing !! You have my vote ! Thank you for standing up against the dirty swamp !! God bless you and your family! None of us are without mistakes !!”
And so on, and so forth. So, frankly, Bouchard is right: If this is the worst of the oppo against him, he might as well start decorating his Congressional office space early.