As of Wednesday, January 17, 2018
SPOKANE VALLEY Rep. Matt Shea said lawmakers from the Pacific Northwest are in the process of drafting a letter seeking an investigation of the Bureau of Land Management, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and now Deputy U.S. Attorney Stephen Myhre.
The expected letter comes on the heels of the federal government’s actions in the grazing rights case of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.
Bundy, his sons Ammon E. Bundy and Ryan C. Bundy, and supporter Ryan W. Payne of Montana, were cleared in the case Monday when a federal judge dismissed all criminal charges against them “with prejudice.”
The ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Gloria M. Navarro means the federal government cannot bring the same charges against the Bundys or Paine.
The dismissal of the case that pitted ranchers with grazing rights against bureaucrats managing public lands was a major blow to the federal government’s authority in the West.
But it’s not over, said Shea of Spokane Valley.
“This case doesn’t stop here,” he said Tuesday morning, referring to the looming letter. “‘Flagrant misconduct’ and a ‘deliberate attempt to mislead’ according to the judge are very serious allegations and must be investigated by the Trump Administration and Congress. We are drafting a letter to that effect that we expect to send out Wednesday (today).”
The letter will include the signatures of several legislators from Idaho and Washington, he said.
Shea has been very vocal about the need to disband the BLM and change the way federal agencies manage publicly owned land in the West.
The BLM manages about 428,000 acres in Washington state, he said.
The trial debacle was another in a line of major court losses for the BLM, FBI and U.S. attorneys relating to standoffs in both Bunkerville, Nev.; and at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore.
In the Nevada incident, Bundy claimed federal agents were conducting surveillance and had snipers positioned around his family homestead. He also claimed the agencies were attempting to round-up and/or kill cattle he had grazing on federally managed lands.
That April 2014 incident ended when Bundy’s social media plea for help was answered by supporters — some of whom brought firearms — prompting the federal agencies to back down before any shots were fired during a standoff.
Navarro declared a mistrial in the most current case in December and dismissed it “with prejudice” this week.
The previous trials of individuals involved in the standoff ended without any major convictions.
Bundy’s sons and several other supporters were also charged with multiple crimes in the 41-day standoff at Malheur that ended in February 2016.
One supporter, Lavoy Finicum, was shot and killed by law enforcement agents who ambushed a caravan he, the Bundy brothers and others were riding in. Most of the defendants in the Malheur case were also previously acquitted of major charges.
Shea, who visited both Bunkerville and Malheur, was instrumental in upending the most recent case.
He uncovered and released whistleblower documents proving the existence of federal videos of the Bundy family home prior to and during the standoff, a so-called “kill list” with red “X” across the faces of some protesters and proof the FBI was involved before armed supporters came to aid the family.
Shea previously called the judge’s declaration of a mistrial “fairly amazing.”
Shea called the federal agencies’ so-called kill book “one of the most alarming things I’ve seen” as an elected official.
That book was one of the things that led to a mistrial.