Letter to the editor: The tall tales of Pinocchio the Independent

Clay “Pinocchio” Kainer has appeared out of nowhere, telling tall tales as he grovels to the residents of Sublette County for their votes in the general election as the Independent candidate for County Attorney.

Afraid to run for election by entering the primary race in May of 2022, Kainer launched a last-minute bid to appear as an Independent on the general election ballot. His blatantly false campaign theme is I “completely abandoned” the elected officials, boards and law enforcement, and if elected he will repair the “shattered relationships” and “restore justice,” whatever that means. He provides no explanation or specific examples; he merely pedals his bicycle around town babbling to anyone who will listen that I “abandoned” everyone and have no regard for “justice.”

The truth is Kainer abandoned his constituents and employees after I won the 2018 primary. The office manager at the time, Julie Bell, called me in December of 2018 stating Kainer had disappeared and she did not know what to do with the court docket as he could not be reached. Throwing a temper tantrum and not showing up for the job you were elected to do because the voters didn’t want four more years of you is a strange prelude to asking them for their vote down the road.

A flashback to the past is in order.

Kainer made a complete mess of the Sublette County Attorney’s Office during his term, evidenced in part by his appalling three out of 10 jury trial success rate. Good prosecutors will lose a case now and then, but Kainer lost the vast majority. This clearly establishes that he fundamentally does not understand how to assess cases and lacks the skill to try them.

Every trial results in the lives and livelihoods of dozens of voters being significantly impacted when they are called for jury duty. Most do it willingly, but they all expect the prosecutor to have a winnable case. Since I was elected, the Sublette County Attorney’s Office has not lost a trial presented to a jury. Kainer believes and frequently states that a prosecutor should not focus on winning cases because that is not important. This is a flawed mindset and does not result in justice.

On the civil side, Kainer provided stunningly incompetent legal advice to elected officials, including but not limited to advising the Board of Sublette County Commissioners it was legal to levy a separate tax for the “fire district,” which is in fact a county fire department without taxing authority. This was an inexcusable mistake that put Sublette County at serious financial risk. We caught his blunder and fixed it.

Kainer is now claiming to be a “conservative” Independent; however, he displayed no fiscal restraint or conservative values during his tenure as County Attorney. I reduced the number of attorneys in the office and cut wasteful spending. At the conclusion of my term, I will have spent approximately $500,000 fewer taxpayer dollars to run the office than Kainer, while simultaneously drastically enhancing productivity, professionalism and efficiency.

This begs answers to several questions.

First, where was Kainer when it was time to file for the primary election in May, and how does he have time to wear out his bicycle tires spreading lies about me, the outgoing County Attorney? His last job was working at the Teton County Attorney’s Office, where I understand he continued to lose trials and likely wore out his welcome.

Second, what exactly happened between the filing deadline for the primary and now that persuaded him to run as an Independent? “Not realizing how bad things really were,” the need to “restore justice,” and the “abandonment” arguments without detailed explanations do not cut it. Third, why would he make me the target of his campaign when I am not seeking re-election? This is a puzzling strategy. His opponent is Clayton Melinkovich, the Republican nominee, not me.

Fourth, specifically which elected officials, boards, and law enforcement officers did I abandon and exactly how did I abandon them? The answer is none, but I would welcome him to dig a deeper hole and expound upon that.

If Kainer wanted to give it another go, he should have filed for office in May and allowed the public to hear him debate his opponents. Last time the debate did not go so well for Pinocchio Kainer; could it be he wanted to avoid the limelight this time?

Mike Crosson, Pinedale


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