BLM loses ‘Battle of Bunkerville’ case

Spokane Valley Rep. Shea aided in blowing case wide open

— A federal judge yesterday dismissed the charges against rancher Cliven Bundy, two of his sons and a Montana supporter in the so-called “Battle of Bunkerville” case.

In dismissing with prejudice, U.S. District Court Judge Gloria M. Navarro handed the family a victory in its battle with federal agencies over who controls public land in the west.

Bundy, his sons Ammon E. Bundy and Ryan C. Bundy, and supporter Ryan W. Paine were on trial for various alleged crimes in the armed standoff near Bunkerville, Nev., in April 2014.

The victory comes just weeks after Eastern Washington lawmaker Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, 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 could not be reached for comment last night on the verdict he had predicted.

Dismissal with prejudice means the four defendants cannot be retried on the charges.

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.

Bundy’s two sons and Paine were also defendants in the 41-day Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff that ended in February 2016. Most of the defendants in the Malheur case were previously acquitted of major charges.

Since the mistrial, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has demoted the lead prosecuting attorney, U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre, in the case.

Shea, who visited both Bunkerville and Malheur during the standoffs, said previously that BLM has outlived its usefulness as a federal agency.

He’s hopeful dismissal means real changes in federal management of public land in the West. The agency manages about 428,000 acres in Washington state.


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