Nicholas was born in Lander in Fremont County in central Wyoming. He graduated from Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology. He received a Juris Doctor from the University of Wyoming College of Law. He works as an attorney for the law firm Nicholas & Tangeman, LLC in Laramie.
He served as a member of the Wyoming House of Representatives from 1997 to 2004. Since 2005, he has served as a member of the Wyoming Senate. In 2011, he voted against HB 74, a bill that would have made marriage contracts from out-of-state valid in Wyoming so long as they involve one man and one woman. In 2010, he voted against a bill to halt within Wyoming the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which had been signed earlier by U.S. President Barack H. Obama. Nicholas argued that the Wyoming bill would have created complexities.
He is a member of Rotary International and the board of the Laramie Area Chamber of Commerce. He serves as an advisor to the board of the Laramie Economic Development Corporation. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Council of State Governments.
Allegations of Corruption
In 2013, Senator Phil Nicholas was accused of securing $4 million of state funds for one of his law firm's clients through his elected office of State Senator. Nicholas was accused of securing the state funds while he sat as the Chairman of the Joint Appropriations Committee for the Wyoming Legislature.
Nicholas, who attached this $4 million appropriation in an unrelated budgetary footnote, claims that his actions were ethical under the Legislative Service Office ethics. Nicholas argues, "The ethics opinion says, when you do your analysis, 'Do you have a direct private benefit?' If the answer is no, then you don't have a conflict. In my case, I do not benefit."
Senator Nicholas has also been accused of misusing the Wyoming State Plane. Nicholas is specifically accused of misusing the State plane when he and two others flew themselves to dinner, a retreat, and back home in the same night on Thursday, June 18th 2013.
- Legislature biography
- Senate biography
- Law firm biography
- Wyoming state bar event
- Wyoming GOP legislature
- Aaron Leclair, 'Anti-gay marriage bill defeated in Senate', in Laramie Boomerang, March 3, 2011 
- Ben Neary, 'Wyoming Legislature targets federal health law', in BusinessWeek, February 2, 2011 
- Laramie Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors
- Council of State Governments Executive Committee