'I am not for sale': GOP megadonor’s plans busted by local Wyoming officials
A right-wing billionaire financial tycoon's project to turn a tiny, rural Wyoming community into his own personal playground was dealt a surprising setback when local officials shot him down, The Daily Beast reported on Wednesday.
Joe Ricketts, founder of the predecessor company to online brokerage firm TD Ameritrade, earned approval to create a luxury resort on his ranch in Bondurant, a community of Sublette County with barely 100 people — sparking outrage from locals. But his latest bid to expand that resort just failed in a surprising vote of the area's board of commissioners.
"According to local outlet WyoFile, three out of five commissioners have historically voted with Ricketts," reported Noah Kirsch. "At last week’s meeting, however, commissioner Sam White unexpectedly joined the minority and rejected the bid to modify property near 'the riverbank at the head of the Upper Hoback River.' Ricketts was seeking to build a 'restaurant, gymnasium, bunkhouse and cabin village,' the outlet said. 'Your application is denied at this time,' White announced to Ricketts’ team. Doug Vickrey, who also voted against the proposal, was more forceful."
“Remember that some things are not for sale,” said Vickrey, in a reference to the Wyoming State Code. “Folks, I’m going to tell you right now, I am one of those things. I am not for sale. So, I would like Mr. Ricketts to know that with all his wealth there are some things in this world money cannot buy, and by God I’m one of them.”
His words were greeted with applause from residents, who had overwhelmingly opposed Ricketts' initial resort plan in the first place.
This is not the only rural community Ricketts has interfered in. A massive fence around his ranch in the middle of the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana has become a hazard to wildlife, according to a 2022 report in The Guardian.
"Tensions are high in many communities across the Mountain West, which have increasingly become dominated by wealthy interlopers, particularly since the onset of the pandemic," noted the report. "During last week’s hearing, local journalist Joy Ufford commented on that trend in Sublette County (after receiving clearance from her editor), WyoFile reported. '[If] I don’t say something I’m never going to forgive myself,' she said. 'I’m going to be sick, sick, sick if Bondurant is sacrificed as a stepping stone to Jackson.'"
Ricketts is also the father of former Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, who was appointed by his successor to the U.S. Senate on his way out the door due to the early resignation of Sen. Ben Sasse to take a position as president of the University of Florida.
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