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commissioners say support for transgender worker cost them
their jobs

commissioners say support for transgender worker cost them
their jobs

Tooele County, Utah, commissioners Matthew Lawrence and Dennis Rockwell, who were defeated for renomination at the Republican Party's county convention, say they were targeted by an EnergySolutions official because they refused to demote a transgender county employee. Joyce Hogan, EnergySolutions' Tooele County liaison and vice chairwoman of the county's Republican Party, denied the allegation.

Lawrence and Rockwell said they bucked Hogan by refusing to demote Nicole Cline, the county's community development director. "Joyce Hogan told me, 'You're going to have to make changes at the county, or you are going down,'" Lawrence said. "She said Cline had to be taken out of her position, that she couldn't be the face of economic development in Tooele County, that she was an embarrassment."

Rockwell said Hogan told him six or seven months ago that "if you want to continue on as county commissioner, you have to put Nicole in a back room where she can't be seen." Cline, who has worked at Tooele County for 15 years, is a post-op male-to-female transsexual.

Hogan said in an e-mail to The Salt Lake Tribune that at the convention last week, "I did not campaign against commissioners Lawrence or Rockwell or any other candidate. Furthermore, I have never threatened any candidate to work toward their defeat in an election if they did not take my advice."

She said Lawrence had asked her about Cline heading up the county's economic development program. "I gave it as my opinion that it is the role of the county commission to act as the voice of economic development in the county. My comments were about the role of the county commission, not Ms. Cline, and in no way intended to disparage Ms. Cline," Hogan said.

Mark Walker, EnergySolutions' vice president of public relations, said, "EnergySolutions would never presume to get into the internal operations of any governmental entity."

Tooele County GOP chairman Greg Copeland said Lawrence and Rockwell simply are angry that they lost. "I had several discussions with Ms. Hogan, and she said she had no contact with any delegates before or after the convention," he said. "I have surveyed about half of the delegates, and so far they have said they felt no pressure to vote a certain way."

Cline said her department has made great strides and said she has no intention of stepping down. "I'm pretty tough to have done the things I've done," she said. "It's not going to bother me."

EnergySolutions, formerly Envirocare of Utah, operates a hazardous waste and low-level radioactive waste disposal site in the county. (AP)

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