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Idaho GOP Candidate Bundy Says 'Invasive Species' Is Attacking US


Idaho Republican gubernatorial candidate Ammon Bundy claimed America was under attack from an "invasive species" that must be destroyed in a video posted online a few weeks before he declared his candidacy over the weekend.

Bundy, a notorious anti-government militant, formally kicked off his gubernatorial campaign on Saturday, June 19. He joins seven other candidates who are already in the race, including Lieutenant Gov. Janice McGeachin, who has ties to the extremist Three Percenters militia group, members of which were arrested at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

Current governor Brad Little (R) has not announced his reelection plans for what is likely to continue to be a Republican-held seat.In a video streamed online May 27, Bundy walked through an apple orchard on his property and noted that the trees were infested with an invasive species.

"What's happening in my orchard is what's happening in our country, and if we don't get serious about destroying the invasive specie[s], it's already doing terrible damage to our orchard or to our country," said Bundy.While Bundy did not specify to what he was comparing the invasive species, he has a long history of criticizing the federal government for overreach and supposedly violating the Constitution — something he has described as "tyranny."



"We can not afford to have state leadership that lets the federal government bully us, or walk all over us," he wrote on his official campaign site. "... Because we know that the Federal Government under Joe Biden and the existing establishment will continue their onslaught against the people, and we simply can't afford to have leadership in our state back down, and comply with federal tyranny."

In the announcement for his gubernatorial campaign, Bundy accused President Joe Biden once again of being the puppet of a "Deep State" that "control[s] him."

Bundy has a long history of anti-government activity, including being involved in multiple standoffs, some of them armed.

In 2014, Bundy was a part of the standoff between the federal government and his father, rancher Cliven Bundy. The Bundy family claimed that the Bureau of Land Management did not have the right to stop them from grazing their cattle on publicly owned land without permit; the government, as a result, attempted to confiscate the cattle but were blocked by armed protesters and later charged Bundy and his father with conspiracy against the United States. Those charges against were later thrown out after a federal judge declared a mistrial, citing misconduct by the federal government.

In his gubernatorial campaign announcement, Bundy defended the 2014 standoff, describing it as "fighting back" against "federal tyranny."

In 2016, Bundy led an armed group of anti-government extremists who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. The standoff lasted for 40 days until Bundy and his allies were arrested. One of the men who helped Bundy to take over the facility, Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, was shot and killed by federal authorities during the standoff. Bundy was later acquitted in a federal case stemming from the occupation.

Bundy has also protested several bills at the state level to implement COVID-19 safety measures. In August 2020, he was arrested for trespassing when he entered the Idaho State Capitol and refused to leave despite police orders. Bundy and others were there that day to protest legislation including a mask mandate, which was intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Bundy was removed from the building a second time, one day later, while strapped to an office chair, with police claiming he had been uncooperative.

After the incident he was barred from entering the Capitol for a year.

On his campaign site, Bundy denounced the state's handling of the pandemic, claiming Gov. Brad Little "took Idaho down a socialistic path, introducing over 25 executive orders with nearly every one of them having unconstitutional elements that violated peoples rights and destroyed people's lives."

"No Governor has the Constitutional authority to shut down businesses and prevent trade or commerce, nor to designate some businesses as essential while others are non-essential. It is simply unconstitutional," he wrote. "... I have been fighting against unconstitutional overreach since the beginning of this so called crisis ... This insanity has got to stop—but fortunately in Idaho, this insanity will never begin because I will not allow it."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


GOP Extremists In West Challenging Party ‘Establishment’ For Power

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

One of the consequences of the GOP's sidelong embrace of its extremist elements—from the insurrection denialists and Big Lie gaslighters to the QAnon cultists like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert—is that far-right extremists are now perfectly comfortable identifying as Republicans. In some cases, they're demanding the overthrow of the party's establishment—which can't seem to decide whether to fight back or just succumb willingly to the incoming far-right tide.

Establishment Republicans in Western states are particularly under siege from extremist elements among their voting base. In Idaho, for instance, armed-standoff-guru-turned-pandemic-denialist Ammon Bundy filed paperwork to run for governor, in a race already featuring another leading state "Patriot" movement figure. In Nevada, an insurgent far-right group organized on social media and led by Proud Boys members are attempting an open hostile takeover of the Clark County GOP, the state's largest county-level Republican organization.

Bundy's filing is rich in irony. For starters, he is currently banned from the Idaho Statehouse in Boise after his two ejections and arrests for defying masking requirements, for which he is currently standing trial. For another, as KTVB notes, Bundy himself is not even registered to vote in Idaho, and has apparently never done so in the five years or so that he has lived in Emmett.

He also named himself the treasurer of his campaign, which means that he will have to refile the paperwork, according to the Idaho Secretary of State's office, which tweeted out an explanation: "Because a treasurer must be a registered Idaho voter, Ammon Bundy will either need to register and refile or name a new treasurer by refiling. IDSOS staff have notified him as such."

The Republican field to replace incumbent Governor Brad Little (who has not announced whether he will seek re-election) is already large, and Bundy's competition in the primary already features another leading "Patriot" movement figure, Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin, who announced her candidacy last week. While Bundy was probably the earliest far-right figure in Idaho to take up the cause of opposing COVID-19-related public-health restrictions, McGeachin—who has supported Bundy and his fellow standoff-loving "Patriots" steadfastly from her office in Boise—has also been on the pandemic-denialist bandwagon.

McGeachin appeared alongside Bundy at one anti-restriction rally in Boise. More notoriously, she appeared in a video in which she brandished a handgun and a Bible while sitting in the driver's seat of a pickup, railing against coronavirus restrictions.

The political insurgency inside Clark County's GOP was reported Friday by Rory Appleton at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, who explained that a group of far-right activists with deep ties to the Proud Boys are positioning themselves to take over the county Republican leadership. Some of its members, meanwhile, are alleged to have threatened a number of prominent Republicans.

The group, Appleton reported, organized online—primarily using the encrypted chat app Telegram—while reveling in anti-Semitic and white-nationalist memes and rhetoric. "Two Republican women in public office told the Review-Journal they've been threatened by leaders of the fringe movement, as did the current board of the Clark County party, which is hiring security for a crucial meeting Tuesday," the story reads.

Calling itself the "Republican Chamber of Commerce" (despite lacking ties to any known GOP organization), the far-right group first made its presence felt last month when it organized a late surge in votes favoring the censure of Barbara Cegavske, the state's Republican Secretary of State, for refusing to play along with attempts to overturn the 2020 election results based on Donald Trump's false claims of election fraud.

Since then, it has been preparing to provide a similar wave of votes to sweep three of their three leading figures—Rudy Clai, Matt Anthony and Paul Laramie—into the leadership of the Clark County GOP. The group has no record of doing business anywhere in the state of Nevada, and has no connection to any of the known chamber or Republican groups already established in Nevada.

Yet its website appears to be a nominally mainstream GOP group. Its primary emblem resembles the Republican National Committee's logo but inverted, with a red elephant on a white background encircled in red with the letters "RCC" and "Republican Chamber of Commerce" within.

Anthony has achieved a level of media notoriety as one of Las Vegas' most prominent Proud Boys, though he insists the local chapter is nonviolent and nonracist. After the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, he defended the people arrested and warned against a law-enforcement crackdown on "Patriots": "They're basically going all in on tyranny, guys. … They're watching. It's to be expected. They're the enemy. They're going to shut down our ability to communicate."

As it happens, Anthony is also a fugitive: He is the subject of an arrest warrant from the state of Michigan after he broke probation by moving to Nevada and then refusing to return after Nevada declined to oversee his probation, all stemming from his 2012 arrest on a drug charge.

The group's Telegram channel—owned by Anthony, and administered by Clai—is titled "Keep Nevada Open," apparently an offshoot of a Facebook group with the same name that boasted 17,000 members and organized anti-masking and other pandemic-related protests. Appleton describes a review of the channel's contents by the Clark County GOP executive board, led by chief of staff Richard MacLean:

MacLean showed his fellow board members several pictures and videos posted within the group, though not specifically by Anthony and Clai.
One photo blamed the 9/11 terrorist bombings on Jews. Another video featured a long clip of an Adolf Hitler speech and Nazi soldier marches. Some featured cartoon characters with negative Jewish stereotypes, and one photo featured messages written on dollar bills.
A post even poked fun at Republicans, claiming they seemed to be shocked at certain current events while white nationalists were thrilled by them.

The board promptly ejected the three men from the party. However, on Thursday, 10 people including Anthony and Clai filed a lawsuit against both the county and state party central committees, accusing them of illegally boxing them out of Clark County GOP meetings. They claim Clai and Anthony are heading up an alternative leadership slate, and are running against a mainstream ticket headed up by state Sen. Carrie Buck.

Despite the pushback by local Republican officials, the extremist elements remain emboldened in no small part because national-level Republicans have shown their eagerness to ignore the radicalism and even embrace it. Certainly, the local far-right leaders are confident that the party's base supports them, and not the establishment players.

"We have the numbers, and they don't, so they have to play dirty," Anthony said in an interview Thursday. "It's that simple."

McGeachin's campaign signs feature the hashtag #IAmIdaho. "Ladies and gentlemen, we are at a pivotal moment in history, not just for Idaho but for our nation," McGeachin said.

Bundy told NBC News on Monday that, despite the filings, he hasn't formally announced his candidacy, but is preparing to build a campaign organization.

"The people of Idaho are very freedom-minded," Bundy said. "I had never desired [to run for office], but I knew as early as 2017 that I would run for governor of Idaho."

New Oregon GOP Chair Tied To Violent Right-Wing Extremists

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Dallas Heard, the newly elected chair of the Oregon Republican Party, once visited an armed militia group as it illegally occupied a federal wildlife facility. Heard also has connections to anti-mask extremists and was involved in protests at the Oregon state Capitol on January 6, the same day as the attack by supporters of Donald Trump on the U.S. Capitol.

On Monday it was announced that Heard, a state senator, had been elected to the position. The selection of Heard is seen as a move further to the right for the state party, which recently described the attack on the U.S. Capitol as a "false flag" event.

Democrats currently control the Oregon House, Senate, and governorship.

In 2016, as a state representative, Heard traveled to the headquarters of the federal Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, which was at the time being occupied by an armed right-wing militia led by Ammon Bundy, son of the anti-government figure Cliven Bundy.

Heard met with the younger Bundy against the advice of law enforcement and expressed sympathy for the group's demand that federal lands be turned over to the states.

The occupation went on for 40 days and ended with multiple indictments and arrests, including prison sentences for nine people involved in the assault. One militant was killed during a confrontation with law enforcement.

In addition to his involvement with the militia, Heard is also connected to Citizens Against Tyranny, an Oregon group that opposes safety measures designed to curb the spread of COVID-19. Heard offered to raffle off some of his personal possessions to provide financial support to the group.

Citizens Against Tyranny posted online the names of two women who they claimed had filed complaints with OSHA about businesses in Oregon not fully complying with COVID restrictions. The site described the women as "filthy traitors" in type designed to look blood-spattered.

Rick Wesenberg, the district attorney for Douglas County, Oregon, condemned Citizens Against Tyranny for engaging in "intimidation."

"Public shaming and banning of certain 'listed' Douglas County citizens is offensive to our democracy and the due process of law," he added.

John Hanlin, the sheriff of the county, also criticized the group's tactics.

Earlier in 2020, Heard spoke in opposition to mask mandates during a special legislative session and took off his mask as a form of protest.

Heard was also involved in rallies held by Trump supporters in opposition to Democratic control of the state government.

At a December 2020 rally at the state Capitol, Heard told a crowd that he was in "full support" of them entering the locked building. Members of that crowd later stormed the building, attacking security officers, damaging property inside, and harassing legislators.

A man who stood next to Heard as he made his comment, David Medina, was later a member of the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol and was recorded speaking outside of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office.

That same day, Heard spoke to a right-wing rally outside the Oregon Capitol and told them, "Don't let any of these punks from that stone temple over there ever tell you they are better than any of you."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Bundy Gang Expanding Into Multi-State Extremist Threat

There's been a buffoonish quality to Ammon Bundy's brand of far-right "constitutionalist" politics over the past six months, primarily organized in a typically paranoid response to COVID-19-related public-health measures: Protesting at the home of a police officer who had arrested an anti-vaccination fanatic for violating the closure of a playground. Trying to bully his way inside a health-board meeting. Getting arrested twice in two days for ignoring his ban from the Idaho Statehouse. Going maskless at a Caldwell High School football game that forced the game to be called off, for which he was not only ejected but banned from future games by the local school district.

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Gun And Anti-Vax Extremists Fuel Shutdown Protests

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Investigative reporting has illuminated connections between pro-gun activists and the fringe protests demanding that various states prematurely end stay-at-home orders and allow nonessential businesses to reopen. Local gun activists in Wisconsin and Virginia, some well-known national gun rights extremists, and pro-gun message boards are cheering on the protests too.

The nationwide anti-quarantine protests started with what was dubbed "Operation Gridlock" on April 15 in Lansing, Michigan, one of states that has been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Thousands of cars drove up to the capitol to demonstrate against the state's stay-at-home order, and protesters led chants to "recall" Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who had recently extended the order and added more restrictions. Similar protests quickly cropped up across the country and featured signs that expressed anti-government sentiments -- resisting vaccines, comparing the stay-at-home orders to tyranny, and emphasizing freedom over safety.

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Oregon Police Shooting Of Refuge Occupier Justified: Prosecutor

By Dan Whitcomb

(Reuters) – The fatal shooting of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, one of the armed protesters who took over a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon in January, was “justified and necessary,” a county prosecutor said on Tuesday.

Finicum was shot and killed by Oregon State Police on Jan. 26 after he tried to flee a traffic stop on a snow-covered roadside during the armed occupation by lands rights protesters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Relatives of Finicum, 54, a spokesman for the group that seized buildings at the refuge, have previously said that he posed no threat and have rejected official assertions that he was armed when he was killed.

Speaking at a press conference in Bend, Oregon, Malheur County District Attorney Dan Norris said eight shots were fired at Finicum during the confrontation, six of them by Oregon State Police officers and two by FBI agents. Three of the bullets fired by Oregon State Police officers led to his death, he said.

“The six shots fired by the Oregon State Police were justified and in fact necessary,” Norris said.

Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson said a loaded 9mm handgun was found in the pocket of Finicum’s jacket following the shooting.

Nelson said Finicum was struck in the back by three of the bullets fired by state troopers who were behind him as he appeared to reach for that weapon.

In a video and audio tape of the incident played at the press conference, Finicum can be heard telling law enforcement officers: “Go ahead, put the bullet through me. I don’t care. I’m going to meet the sheriff. You do as you damn well please.”

The takeover, which began on Jan. 2, was sparked by the return to prison of two Oregon ranchers convicted of setting fires that spread to federal property in the vicinity of the refuge.

The leaders of the standoff, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, were arrested at the same traffic stop at which Finicum was slain.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Dan Grebler and Tom Brown)

Photo: Members of the Pacific Patriots Network visit a memorial for Robert ‘LaVoy’ Finicum where he was shot and killed by law enforcement on a highway north of Burns, Oregon January 31, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Last Four Occupiers Surrender At Oregon Wildlife Refuge, Ending 41-Day Standoff

By Jimmy Urquhart

BURNS, Ore. (Reuters) – The four holdouts in an armed protest at a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon surrendered on Thursday, with the last occupier repeatedly threatening suicide during an intense phone call with mediators before he finally walked out, ending the 41-day standoff with the FBI.

David Fry, 27, had stayed behind for more than an hour and told supporters by phone he had not agreed with the other three to leave. The call was broadcast live on an audio feed posted on the Internet.

“I’m actually pointing a gun at my head. I’m tired of living,” Fry said during the phone call. He later added, “Until you address my grievances, you’re probably going to have to watch me be killed, or kill myself.”

Fry was alternately defiant and distraught during the rambling final call, veering from rants about the federal government to his thoughts on UFOs. He surrendered after taking a final cigarette and cookie and asking his mediators to shout “hallelujah.”

Authorities could be heard over the phone line telling him to put his hands up before the call disconnected. Portland’s KGW television later showed a caravan of sport utility vehicles escorted by police driving out of the refuge in remote eastern Oregon.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement the final four occupiers had surrendered and face charges of conspiracy to impede federal officers, along with 12 others previously arrested.

“The occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge has been a long and traumatic episode for the citizens of Harney County and the members of the Burns Paiute tribe,” U.S. Attorney Billy Williams said in the statement. “It is a time for healing, reconciliation amongst neighbors and friends, and allowing for life to get back to normal.”

Williams said now that all of the protesters had been taken into custody, law enforcement officials would “assess the crime scene and damage to the refuge and tribal artifacts.”

CLIVEN BUNDY ARRESTED

The takeover at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which began on Jan. 2, was sparked by the return to prison of two Oregon ranchers convicted of setting fires that spread to federal property in the vicinity of the refuge.

The standoff, which was originally led by brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy, came to a head after the arrest on Wednesday in Portland of their father, Cliven Bundy. On Thursday he was charged with conspiracy, assault on a federal officer and obstruction of justice in connection with a separate 2014 standoff on federal land near his Nevada ranch.

The Malheur occupation had also been a protest against federal control over millions of acres public land in the West.

Ammon and Ryan Bundy had been arrested in January along with nine other protesters on a snow-covered roadside where a spokesman for the group, Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, was shot dead. A 12th member of the group surrendered to police in Arizona.

After Cliven Bundy’s arrest, three of four remaining occupiers surrendered to the FBI at the urging of Nevada state Assemblywoman Michele Fiore and Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of Christian evangelist Billy Graham. Fiore and Franklin Graham both traveled to the site.

Jeff Banta, 46, of Elko, Nevada, and married couple Sean Anderson, 48, and Sandy Anderson, 47, of Riggins, Idaho, surrendered peacefully, according to the webcast of a phone call with the protesters.

The protesters narrated the surrender, with the married Andersons described as emerging with their hands up, holding hands.

Fry arrived at the occupation within the first week, and told Oregon Public Broadcasting that he was inspired by Finicum. Fry emerged as one of the most outspoken protesters, due primarily to frequent, often angry rants on social media.

The skinny, bespectacled Ohio native from a military family has also expressed outrage when dealing with what appear to be minor criminal offenses in his past. In a YouTube video from September, Fry can be heard saying he refused to pay fines “for smoking marijuana on a river and not wearing a life jacket,” and then appears to set fire to a debt collection notice.

Fry’s father told Oregon Public Broadcasting that his son has also screamed at a police officer who had pulled him over for broken taillights.

The elder Fry said his son was bullied in high school because of his Japanese heritage, and that he worked odd jobs at his father’s dental office instead of following his father and brother into the U.S. Marines.

(Additional reporting by Shelby Sebens in Portland, Oregon; Barbara Goldberg and Joseph Ax in New York, Julia Edwards in Washington, Eric M. Johnson in Seattle and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Sara Catania, Jeffrey Benkoe and Lisa Shumaker)

Photo: Cliven Bundy is pictured in this undated booking handout image provided by the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office/Handout via Reuters

Oregon Occupiers Remain Holed Up After FBI Releases Video Of Shooting

By Peter Henderson

BURNS, Ore. (Reuters) — Four die-hard anti-government militants held their ground at an Oregon wildlife refuge on Friday, a day after the FBI released a video of the fatal shooting of one of the protesters at a traffic stop.

As the standoff with federal authorities neared the end of its fourth week, Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Portland office, said on Thursday night authorities were trying to negotiate with the four holdouts.

They are holed up at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, 30 miles (48 km) from Burns, a small ranging town in the state’s arid southeast.

The movement’s jailed leader, Ammon Bundy, has issued two separate messages through his attorney urging the few remaining protesters at to stand down, saying the group would continue their fight against federal land policy in court.

The occupation began on Jan. 2 when Bundy and at least a dozen followers occupied a small cluster of buildings at the refuge in a flare-up in the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, a decades-old conflict over federal control of millions of acres in the West.

The FBI took the unusual step on Thursday of releasing video footage of the shooting of 54-year-old Robert LaVoy Finicum, a rancher from Arizona who had acted as a spokesman for the occupiers.

The video was released hours after a lawyer for Finicum’s family said other evidence may exist that shows the Arizona rancher was not threatening authorities.

On Tuesday, some of the group’s most recognizable members, including Bundy, were stopped by the FBI and Oregon State Police as they headed to a speaking event. Bundy and four others were taken into custody and Finicum was killed.

VIDEO OF SHOOTING

Authorities said Finicum was armed when he was killed. Aerial video taken from a law enforcement aircraft shows Finicum speeding away from authorities in a white truck and nearly striking a law officer, while trying to evade a police barricade before barreling into a snowbank and exiting the car.

The grainy footage shows Finicum raise his hands in the air and then turn and flail his arms, which lower down to his body before he is shot by Oregon State Police troopers, according to the FBI.

Bretzing, who narrated the video for reporters, said Finicum can be seen reaching for his jacket pocket, where law enforcement found a handgun. But the lack of focus in the video makes it difficult to discern Finicum’s precise movements before the shooting.

“Based on some things that I’ve seen, I think there is potentially a completely different side to the story compared to what is being represented,” Finicum family attorney Todd Macfarlane told Reuters. He could not be reached for reaction to the FBI video release.

Macfarlane said one of the sources for his view was the version of events from Victoria Sharp, who says she was at the scene and watched Finicum die.

Sharp said in an interview with Reuters that Finicum was shot with his gun in his holster and his hands in the air, shouting and walking toward police.

Neither state nor federal law enforcement would comment on whether Sharp was at the scene or on her own detailed description. Reuters was not able to independently confirm her version of the events.

The FBI’s Bretzing told reporters that the law enforcement’s video was released “in the interest of transparency.”

Following his initial court appearance in Portland on Wednesday, Ammon Bundy urged the holdouts to stand down, saying he would continue the fight in court.

Reactions to the takeover by Burns residents have ranged from sympathy for two imprisoned local ranchers whose plight began the protest, to dismay at the armed occupation by individuals seen as outsiders.

(Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York, Daniel Wallis in Denver, Victoria Cavaliere and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles, Curtis Skinner in San Francisco, and Julia Edwards in Washington; Editing by Frank McGurty and Frances Kerry)

Photo: Aerial video released by the FBI January 28, 2016 shows a law enforcement officer (L) pointing a weapon at a man who had just stepped out of the white pickup truck at a police roadblock January 26 near Burns, Oregon. REUTERS/FBI/Handout via Reuters