Former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson said Lynne Cheney, the mother of the Republican Senate hopeful, told him to “shut up” during the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Patrons Ball Saturday night.
Both Simpson and Cheney, the wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney, claim the dispute centered on Simpson’s earlier refusal to sign a football for Cheney’s granddaughter at a recent fundraiser in Laramie.
Simpson had been officially neutral in the GOP race, but made his support to Enzi known during an interview with The Huffington Post Tuesday.
“I am unqualified in my support of Mike Enzi, but it’s not about Liz Cheney for God’s sake,” he said. “It’s about the fact that I’m the guy who talked Mike Enzi into running for public office. I met him when he was the president of the Wyoming Jaycees. I explained that to Lynne but she didn’t seem to listen.
“I was surprised at her intensity,” Simpson said. “It was eyes-flashing and pretty intense.”
The former three-term senator said he had refused a request from Liz Cheney’s daughter to sign the football when the girl said she didn’t know if it was going to be used for campaign purposes.
Simpson’s daughter-in-law, Deb Oakley Simpson, brought the matter to public attention with a Saturday night posting on her Facebook page.
“So I’m at the Patrons Ball tonight and Lynne Cheyney (sic), mother if Liz, comes up to my father-in-law and tells him to ... I believe the quote was “Shut your mouth” regarding his support of Mike Enzi,” Oakley Simpson wrote. “I was trempted (sic) to go tell her where she can go for speaking to a man I love that way when it occurred to me her so very classy commentary would be better shared here. Isn’t she a gem! Like mother like daughter??”
She added three hashtags to the post showing she supported Enzi and was strongly opposed to Liz Cheney: #WeLikeMike, #carpetbagger and #entitledtowhatexactly? and later posted a photo of Simpson and Lynne Cheney talking at the event.
After at first denying the incident had taken place — “That simply did not happen” — Lynne Cheney offered a different take Tuesday in a a statement released by her daughter’s campaign: “The conversation was not about Mike Enzi. It was about Al’s blow up at the FMC event in Laramie when my 15 yr old granddaughter asked him to sign a football to be used to raise money for cancer patients in Rock Springs. Al was rude to my granddaughter and I told him he was out of line. The topic was not Mike Enzi.”
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.