Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy reportedly owes more than $1.3 million in grazing fees to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for allowing his cattle to feed on federal land without permission.
But documents obtained by the Las Vegas Sun show Bundy tried to pay his debt — at least once. He just sent the check to the wrong government agency.
A check for $1,961.47 was issued to Clark County in March 1994 with the intention of clearing the Bunkerville rancher of grazing fees owed from March 1993 through that date. The check was returned with instruction to send it to the BLM, which he stopped paying after federal officials restricted grazing on the 500,000-acre, open-range Bunkerville Allotment to protect the endangered Desert Tortoise species.
The date is consistent with what federal officials say is when Bundy began allowing his livestock to graze on the land illegally, and the amount he paid to the county was the same that he owed the BLM for that one-year time period.
Bundy is on trial starting today, accused of leading more than 100 fellow ranchers and citizen militiamen in an April 2014 armed standoff against federal agents, who came to round up his cattle in response to the unpaid grazing fees. He faces life in prison.
Officials say Bundy’s family did pay the BLM from 1954 to 1993 for the right to graze on the Bunkerville Allotment. But after first unsuccessfully trying to pay Clark County, Bundy stopped paying altogether following the BLM’s mandate to protect the Desert Tortoise that restricted his cattle’s ability to graze on the land, his attorney Bret Whipple said.
Annual fees, interest and federal penalties accumulated over the past 24 years have driven his total debt “probably well over” the $1 million mark, Whipple said.
“The fees themselves are probably only about $40,000 to $50,000,” Whipple said. “But then, of course, it keeps doubling, then with the IRS and the government entities, you’re talking about an entirely different figure.”
A letter from then-Clark County Department of Finance Controller Guy S. Hobbs indicated the county returned Bundy’s check to him in June 1993. Hobbs in the letter told Bundy to send all funds to the federal government.
“Although Clark County is ultimately a recipient of fees for the (Bunkerville) Grazing District, the direct payee is the Federal Government,” Hobbs wrote. “As we do not know how the breakdown is calculated or what portion is retained in the process, it is necessary for you to continue submitting your fees directly to them.”
Hobbs, who now owns a financial planning firm in Las Vegas, did not respond to requests for comment.
Bundy has received numerous directives, court orders and lawsuits from the BLM demanding his cattle stop grazing on the Bunkerville Allotment, all of which his attorney said he has escaped or disregarded. Whipple said Bundy has not attempted to pay federal officials or settle any outstanding debt with the BLM since 1993.
Whipple added he did not believe the outcome of this month’s trial would affect Bundy’s outstanding debt with federal authorities.
Before worrying about unpaid fees, Whipple said Bundy is first concerned with the 22 felony charges — including conspiracy and impeding of federal officers — against him, which could result in the embattled rancher spending the rest of his life in prison.
“It’s kind of, we’ll cross that bridge when the time comes,” Whipple said.
Do Americans have the right to stand up to the Government
We all have our own individual thoughts and beliefs, Do you like chocolate ice cream or vanilla?, Ford or Chevy ? We all have to remember that we are all individuals, we are all human beings. And as such we all have our own points of view, our own individual beliefs. Government employees, whether hired, appointed, or elected, Government officials and employees are just human beings like the rest of us. Are they entitled to their own beliefs? Yes, of course they are. We do not take people's rights away from them simply based on their position of employment. And we also do not take away anyone else's rights to disagree with an individual's point of view or their beliefs simply because that person may be a Government employee or official.
It has also been said that America is a nation of laws, not a nation of men, Not a nation of one individual's beliefs or one person's point of view. That is why we have the Constitution of the United States. That Constitution and our system of governance and laws set the rules and limits of where our Government employees and officials can and cannot impose their beliefs on others. When Government employees and officials take it upon themselves to impose their own beliefs upon others American's have the right to stand up and disagree, just as we do in any other branch of society. And when any Government employee or official uses (or misuses and abuses) the power of the Federal Government to impose his/her own beliefs and points of view on others then Americans not only have the right to stand up against those impositions, but in some cases we have the DUTY to stand up and disagree, and object, and to resist when necessary.
Other Government employees and officials such as law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges should not automatically take on the side or positions of these Government employees merely because they are Government employees or officials, Judges and law enforcement officials should obey the laws and the Constitution just as they expect the rest of us to do. Prosecutors and judges who take the side of others based not on Constitutional limits or on laws, but based simply on the fact that those who are breaking the laws are Government employees and officials are also guilty of violating the laws and the Constitution.
Some people in this country do not believe people should be allowed to own their own land and property. If a Government official happens to hold those kinds of beliefs then that is his/her right as an individual. It is NOT their right however as Government employees to use the power and the force of the Federal Government to impose those beliefs on others. Judges and law enforcement, and prosecutors who side with these illegal actions simply because the person imposing those rules is also a Government employee are also just as guilty of the same violations as the person making the illegal impositions.
Government employees and appointed officials do not always get things right, (they are after all only human like the rest of us), A person's individual beliefs and points of view is not automatically right just because he/she happens to be employed by the Federal Government. And any judge that makes a decision of right or wrong based solely on a persons place of employment (or lack thereof), has no business holding the position of authority as a judge.
Men (and women) make mistakes. And standing up against an abusive federal employee or abusive federal orders is NOT automatically a violation of the laws or our Constitution based solely on the fact that the person making those impositions is a federal employee. The law is the law, and the Constitution is the laws of this land. Judges and federal employees must obey those same laws as the rest of us are expected to do. Judges, prosecutors, and federal employees are NOT free to make their own laws. And they are NOT free to impose those laws on others. Federal judges are NOT free to impose their own laws or beliefs on others. And they should never make decisions based simply on the fact that another prosecutor or Government employee is employed by the Government. People who make decisions are not always right simply because they work for the federal Government. And standing up and opposing government employees when they make bad decisions is not necessarily wrong, sometimes it is not only our rights to oppose Government regulations and impositions, but it is our DUTY to stand up and stop them. No judge, prosecutor, or jury should ever declare that standing up against government aggression and oppression and illegal orders is illegal.
When Government aggression and tyranny becomes the law then resistance becomes mandatory.
It is in fact the basis upon which this Nation was founded.