Six months ago, the federal government stopped attempting to round up cattle that belonged to Cliven Bundy, an anti-government rancher from Nevada. Bundy, along with armed militiamen, squared off with federal agents, threatening them with weapons in hand.
The incident came about as a result of Bundy’s refusal to pay more than $1 million in grazing fees and fines from his cattle grazing on public lands. A federal court issued an order for Bundy’s animals to be removed from the public lands, a move Bundy and his extreme right-wing sympathizers saw as a severe overreach by the government.
As the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reported, at the time, the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) retreat was seen as a victory by not just Bundy’s group, but by militias around the country. And in the six months since the BLM backed off, “there has been no response. Not an arrest. Not an indictment. Nothing.”
A month after the standoff, BLM Director Neil Kornze told NPR that the agency was going after Bundy through the legal system. “I can’t say a lot because there’s an investigation going on, but we are working hard to ensure that those who did break the law are held accountable,” said Kornze.
The Clark County, Nevada, Sheriff’s Department also talks of an on-going investigation, as does the FBI. “But as that investigation drags on, militias have turned the Bundy family ranch into an armed compound ready for a ground war with the Feds, and Bundy has gone on the lecture circuit to claim victory against the government,” said the SPLC.
And with no consequences for his actions, why wouldn’t Bundy become more confident? In his mind, he fought the law, and the law lost. Bundy and his family have moved farther into the radical right than they were before the standoff.
He’s quit the GOP “in favor of the Independent American Party of Nevada,” and his some in his family have “even become lifetime members of antigovernment groups like the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack’s conspiracy-minded group composed of right-wing sheriffs who promise to keep federal aggressions at bay.”
SLPC also reported that that Bundy, with Mack, recently participated in a conference call with the Republic for the united States of America (RuSA),” a group who thinks the federal government is “an illegal corporation designed to enslave its citizens.”
A Department of Homeland Security report from July shows that the feds know they messed up. The report “described a recent spike in antigovernment violence and noted that the ‘perceived success’ of militias at the Bundy ranch ‘likely will embolden other militia extremists and like-minded lone offenders to attempt to replicate these confrontational tactics and force future armed standoffs.’”