CASPER, Wyo. — U.S. House candidate Anthony Bouchard had a relationship with and impregnated a 14-year-old girl when he was 18, he told the Star-Tribune late Thursday, hours after he disclosed the relationship in a Facebook Live video to his supporters.
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.
The two were legally able to get married at the time because Florida law stated that people could marry at any age with a judge's approval if a pregnancy was involved and a parent consented. They got divorced approximately three years later.
"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."
Bouchard’s ex-wife killed herself when she was 20, he said. Online records list a woman with her name as being buried at a Jacksonville, Florida, cemetery in 1990. The Star-Tribune is choosing not to identify her.
“She had problems in another relationship. Her dad had committed suicide,” Bouchard said in the video.
After his ex-wife died, Bouchard said he continued to raise the couple's son, whom he briefly references in the video.
“Sadly, he's made some wrong choices in his life," he said. "He's almost become my estranged son. 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.”
In the 13-minute video, Bouchard looks straight ahead as he rails against "dirty politics," the media and "the establishment swamp." He encouraged his supporters to share the video, saying he wanted "everyone to know."
"I don't want to hide anything," he told the Star-Tribune in a nearly hour-long phone call after the video was published. "I don't want people drug into this. This is just crazy over politics."
Bouchard said he decided to post a video to get ahead of a story about his previous marriage that he anticipates will be published sometime soon. In the video, Bouchard claims that an unnamed reporter and a “political opposition research company” were driving the effort together.
“We know the company that started this investigation. It's a political opposition research company. We know who they are and then it turned into a U.K. media reporter, is who's called me,” he said.
Bouchard said he did not respond to the media outlet.
"This is really a message about how dirty politics is," said Bouchard, one of Wyoming's most prominent gun rights advocates. "They'll stop at nothing, man, when you get in the lead and when you're somebody that can't be controlled, you're somebody who works for the people. They'll come after you. That's why good people don't run for office."
Bouchard announced that he would challenge Cheney in the 2022 Republican primary in January, one week after the congresswoman voted to impeach Trump on charges he incited the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Bouchard was the first person to announce a run against Cheney but has since been joined by seven others.
His name recognition quickly grew, buoyed in part by conservative vitriol against Cheney, who was viewed by many in Wyoming as betraying Trump and the voters who supported him. Bouchard began appearing on conservative television news programs, and his campaign raised $334,000 by the end of March, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Trump said he would soon endorse a candidate to run against Cheney but has yet to do so.
In his Twitter post linking to the video, Bouchard concluded: ”I won't back down, Swamp! @RepLizCheney Bring it!” And in Thursday's video, he said the people digging up the information only "care about ... helping people like Liz Cheney win." But in his conversation with the Star-Tribune, Bouchard said he believes Cheney was not involved in the attempts to publicize the story, which a Cheney spokesperson echoed early Friday.
"The Cheney campaign had no involvement in this at all," Jeremy Adler said.
Bouchard said the disclosure about his past relationship and the pregnancy wouldn't stop him from seeking office.
“Bring it on. I'm going to stay in this race," he said. "We're going to continue to raise money because my record stands on its own.”