Oregon Takeover Update: The Plot Thickens

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge burn
A controlled “pile” burn at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2013.

Last month a group of armed thugs kicked off the New Year by invading the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon. To many observers, the whole episode has been a bit of a head-scratcher. The out-of-state group claimed they had come to “educate” the local community about their rights, prevent two local ranchers from going to jail for arson, and turn the public preserve over to ranchers, loggers and miners. But as it turned out, pretty much nobody in the local community wanted them around — not even the two jail-bound fellows.

Well, scratch your head no more. When the Malheur takeover first came up, TriplePundit was among those who detected the long, sticky fingers of the Koch-funded lobbying organization ALEC at work, and now it appears that the smoking gun has emerged.

ALEC and the Koch brothers pulling strings behind the Malheur takeover

Considering the practically zero level of local support for armed thuggery, the only way to make sense of the Malheur takeover is that it was a proxy action on behalf of ALEC, and by extension the Koch brothers, who happen to number ranching, mining and logging among their interests.

The leader of the Malheur takeover was Ammon Bundy, son of the now-notorious Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy. The elder Bundy is known for his affinity for the ALEC “states’ rights” lobbying effort, the idea being that federal agencies have no Constitutional authority to manage public land outside of Washington, D.C. The ultimate goal is to have states take control of federal property, easing the way for development, resource extraction and privatization.

For many years the elder Bundy has put the ALEC philosophy into action by refusing to pay fees for his cattle on federal grazing lands, gaining support from like-minded legislators including several in the current crop of Republican presidential candidates. When federal agents finally attempted to enforce legal action, he called on a network of armed thugs to drive them off (it’s no secret that ALEC is also behind the liberalization of gun laws). That was two years ago and enforcement seems to be in a holding pattern.

Like his father, the younger Bundy also put the ALEC philosophy into action with the help of a weaponized group of volunteers, only he upped the ante by barricading his armed men inside a working federal facility.

As for the ALEC connection, of course that’s a matter of inference and interpretation — or it was until now. The Salt Lake Tribune has a scoop that ties up the Bundy-ALEC-Koch connection in one tidy package.

Bundy’s video used by ALEC group, misspellings and all

Last week, Tribune staff columnist Paul Rolly discussed a video being peddled on Facebook by the ALEC-backed American Lands Council through its former president, Utah state Rep. Kenneth Ivory. The video purports to show reckless and irresponsible controlled burning practices by the federal Bureau of Land Management.

That’s significant because, as noted above, Ammon Bundy’s initial excuse for invading the refuge was to support two local ranchers. Last fall the two men were re-sentenced on arson charges related to burning brush, and their supporters argue that federal agencies behave far worse when it comes to fire management.

This week, Rolly followed up by asserting that the American Lands Council post was based on a video produced by Ammon Bundy himself in support of the two jail-bound ranchers. (We found two such Youtbue videos uploaded by Bundy: here on Dec. 5 and here on Dec. 31.)

Bundy’s videos rely on footage shot by a local rancher who was making the exact opposite point about federal burn practices. Rolly explains:

“The [American Lands Council] video was misleading, since news stories and subsequent BLM reports of the 2012 blaze show it was lightning-caused, fueled by heavy dry underbrush and desperately fought by federal, state and area firefighters.

“Here’s the rest of the story: It was a rip-off of a heavily edited propaganda video produced in December by Ammon Bundy.”

[snip]

“Research by Michael Heggen, a Salem, Ore., horse breeder, discloses that an original video was shot by an area rancher named John Witzel, who was armchair-quarterbacking the BLM’s battle against the blaze. While Witzel criticized the agency for not acting quickly enough, he didn’t accuse the BLM of “burning out ranchers” — as claimed in Bundy’s edited version.

“‘What you see in the video,’ Heggen writes, ‘are firefighting efforts — including the use of backfiring, which involves intentionally burning land ahead of a wildfire in order to create a black line devoid of fuel for the wildfire — not thuggery by the yellow-clad stormtroopers of the tyrannical BLM.'”

So, there’s that.

The Malheur mess drags on…

As of this writing, only four lone holdouts are still barricaded inside the refuge, despite repeated pleas from Ammon Bundy to give themselves up. Bundy himself is in jail facing a raft of federal charges, along with more than a dozen of his cohorts, having provided prosecutors with ample evidence of their crimes through their own social media as well as the mainstream press. He and most of the others are considered flight risks and have been denied bail, at least until the refuge is cleared.

Earlier this week Bundy issued a somewhat pathetic video plea from jail for “any elected representative” from eight Western states to come and visit or speak out in support of the group. But so far the only out-of-stater planning to stop by is Nevada state Rep. (and gun enthusiast) Michele Fiore. Fiore, though, has made it clear that her visit was planned before Bundy released his plea.

So, why the radio silence?

TriplePundit has followed the whole Malheur mess from the beginning, and one of the first things we noted was that under Bundy’s blundering leadership, the Malheur “occupation” was disavowed by other affiliates and sympathizers of the so-called armed “patriot” network in addition to alienating every local stakeholder group.

Bundy has also been abandoned by the same elected officials who once supported his father, with Fiore being one of the few outliers. In this context, Ivory’s Facebook video appears to be designed to leverage Bundy in support of the broader goal of federal land privatization.

We’re thinking that nobody else has come forward because Bundy’s ham-handed land grab stirred up a hornet’s nest, shining an unwanted spotlight on the legislators supported by ALEC and the Koch brothers to advance the privatization cause.

On the other hand, Bundy’s criminal actions seem to have galvanized conservationists. Hundreds of volunteers signed up to come and clean up the mess at the Malheur refuge once the coast is clear, and hundreds of others have pledged financial assistance through the G.O.H.O.M.E. campaign.

Image by Shane Theall via U.S Fish & Wildlife Service

Tina is a career public information specialist and former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She writes frequently on sustainable tech issues for Triple Pundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, and she is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey.

9 responses

  1. I find it interesting that so many times this site supports anything and everything the Government does. The killing of a man is very serious and making why he died and how is just as important. Now with that being said, why haven’t you looked into all the timber lands that the fed Government sold to the timber companies and who have locked the people of Oregon out of these lands and away for what most of us live here for. No that would go away from any moneys you are getting. I don’t agree with the Bundy’s as well they are just as responsible for that mans death there is plenty of blood to pass around from the Governor of this state to the people of Burns to the State Police and to the rest of the occupation people still there. Last summer for about ten days a group of protesters blocked the river in Portland to keep a ship from leaving none of them were arrested to my knowledge. The other problem is to many people from the east coast think they know what is best for the whole country and you don’t , this country needs a major blood transfusion starting in Washington DC from top to bottom because there are people setting in their offices counting their cash flow from so many lobbies and nothing is being done about it. Last issue, gun control, You set in your little office and so many big name people start screaming about we have to stop gun violence but until you come up with a way to make a crook register his gun and stop the illegal selling of guns on the streets of this country the violence will never stop and those who have guns that are legal will have to keep them to protect themselves and their families. Check with any prison and the prisoners who are there and committed their crimes with legal guns registered to themselves I bet you won’t find a one, none of the school shootings happened with a gun that wasn’t stolen so how do we stop that. The best way to change anything in this country is to stand up make your voice herd at the voters box.

    1. I’ve often thought the gun control issue cannot be a “blanket, one size fits all” legislation, precisely because the west and ranching is a different environment than urban America; in the former, a gun can be seen as almost a necessary tool out in the back country, where as urban situations differ considerably. In the ranching areas, you can literally be 80 or 100 miles from anything remotely resembling civilization and services. You are literally on your own. In an urban area, you are constantly surrounded by people, services, organizations. Radically different environments, lifestyles, needs. Personally, I found most of the people in ranching very industrious, self-sufficient, hard working good people who don’t shoot their neighbors, commit crimes, etc. And yes, everyone has guns out there….. not only is population density sparse, so is police intervention. Horses get injured, cattle get injured, vets are too far to assist, so yes, it’s just a different world entirely.

  2. Tina, your articulation of facts in this situation is so far off the mark I don’t even care to begin dissecting it. I hope that your readers will take the time to study the facts in this situation and the underlying issues on their own, and come to their own conclusions vs. take your word for it. These men, Ammon included, are not “armed thugs”, but rather upstanding and very intelligent American citizens that are standing for us all. Should you ever find yourself in trouble, losing your Constitutional rights, you would be fortunate to have one of them speak/stand for you. Last, I find it very telling that you didn’t even mention the gentleman rancher, husband and father, LaVoy Finicum, who was outright executed by our federal government. I am not what you might think either. I live in Arizona now, but lived most of my life in the midwest, and was raised in a family that was about as liberal leaning as you could get. I learned to learn. I suggest you try doing to same instead of negatively spouting off about something you clearly know nothing about. The smug ugliness of your article is what makes me most sad. That… is exactly what’s wrong with this country. People seem to care little about the truth, and more about judgment, spin, and their right to pummel anyone they ‘do not’ understand. Strive to do better Tina. In your life review someday (we all have one), it’ll matter.

    1. My reading list, which leads me to different conclusions than your own. The reader will have to cut and paste since they don’t show up as links. I too lived in the west, and for a short while not far from Burns. It is a different lifestyle out there, and most ranchers comply and appear to resolve their issues without resorting to Militia’s….. which, BTW, if you want to become informed about the types of people that gravitate towards these movements, try searching for the Kehoe Bros, who, in order to arm the militia, killed an arms dealer, his wife, and tortured and killed their 8 year old daughter. This is the lot Bundy has called to our “aid”…. really????? Yes, research and truth is in order.
      Go at it. Finicum, sadly, got duped into bearing the Bundy Cross……. and by his own words, had no personal issue or problem with the BLM. He found a cause, a place, a platform, and audience and some recognition…. and that aphrodisiac became his end.. sad that so many walk down Satan’s path of deception…

      [Letter from Nevada] | The Great Republican Land Heist, by Christopher Ketcham | Harper’s Magazine
      Cliven Bundy and the politicians who are plundering the West

      [Letter from Nevada] | The Great Republican Land Heist, by Christopher Ketcham | Harper’s Magazine – Part 2
      Cliven Bundy and the politicians who are plundering the West

      [Letter from Nevada] | The Great Republican Land Heist, by Christopher Ketcham | Harper’s Magazine – Part 6
      Cliven Bundy and the politicians who are plundering the West

      10-30-2012 HOGAN HAMMOND SENTENCING FINAL – Transcript of Judges ruling.pdf

      ALEC Exposed

      An experiment in privatizing public land fails after 14 years — High Country News

      Armed Oregon supporters make late-night raid to take children from family member after CPS called

      broncosports.com Boise State Donors Williams, Caven Pledge Million to Stadium Expansion – Boise State Official Athletic Site Boise State Official Athletic Site – Football
      Boise State Donors Williams, Caven Pledge Million to Stadium Expansion

      Bundy Militant Admits To Being Armed–Even Though He’s A Convicted Murderer |
      If You Only News

      Burns Paiute Tribe asks government to halt armed Malheur protesters’ free passage | Local | Eugene, Oregon
      The Burns Paiute Tribe has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to stop an armed militia group from freely moving on and off the 300-square-mile Malheur National Wildlife Refuge south of Burns. In a press release issued Monday, tribal chairwoman Charlotte Roderique said the tribe is concerned that thousands of cultural artifacts located at the refuge headquarters may be damaged, destroyed or go missing as a result of an anti-government militia group, angry about federal land use policy, that took over buildings at the refuge more than three weeks ago.

      CSR Lessons from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Takeover
      The group of heavily armed men that is illegally occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon may be linked to ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

      Development plans for Florida LDS cattle ranch stir controversy

      FALSE: Judge Calls U.S. Marshals, FBI to Arrest the President and Congress : snopes.com
      No, an Alaskan judge hasn’t called upon U.S. Marshals and the FBI to arrest Congress and the President.

      Hammond family who inspired Oregon standoff ‘scraped relative Dusty’s skin raw’ | Daily Mail Online
      Dusty Hammond (pictured) was allegedly subjected to months of repeated abuse by uncle Steven Hammond, 46, and grandfather Dwight Hammond, 74, in 2004.

      Headline on Malheur occupation is inaccurate, irresponsible: Letters to the Editor | OregonLive.com
      Ammon Bundy and his bullyboys aren’t trying to free federal lands …

      ­In Oregon, Myth Mixes With Anger – The New York Times
      The West won’t be won by ideologues brandishing guns and seizing government property.

      Land Management Land Exchange in Harney and Malheur Counties

      Land Management Stockade Block

      Libertarian Fairy Tales: The Bundy Militia’s Revisionist History in Oregon – Pacific Standard
      For centuries, the federal government has bailed out cattle ranchers in Oregon and other Western states. It requires a lot of magical thinking—and historical erasure—to see “tyranny” in Harney County.

      Malheur National Wildlife Employees Break Their Silence On Armed Occupation In Eastern Oregon . News | OPB

      Malheur occupation could set conservation efforts back years — High Country News
      Invasive carp may recolonize areas they were once eradicated from, depending on how long the occupation lasts.

      Meet The Child-Abusing Arsonists That Inspired The Oregon Militia Standoff | ThinkProgress
      If you are looking for a poster child for the case against mandatory minimums, look elsewhere.

      Oregon militants are taking their revolution to a neighboring county — where they’ve found a friendly sheriff

      Oregon militia could face fines and more than 10 years in prison, experts say | US news | The Guardian
      Ammon Bundy and his followers, who have refused to leave the Malheur national wildlife refuge, appear to have violated several laws

      Oregon ranchers appoint conspiracy theorist ‘judge’ to help them send lawmakers to jail | Americas | News | The Independent
      While the FBI and lawmakers in Oregon decide how to deal with an armed stand-off with a group of extremist ranchers, the ranchers are deciding how to deal with them by appointing a conspiracy theorist judge to implement their own legal system. Self-styled militants in Oregon who are protesting against extended prison sentences for fellow ranchers have claimed they are ‘sovereign citizens’ and will apply their own ‘legal system’ to boot local lawmakers into jail.

      Oregon ranchers who sparked standoff threatened to wrap official’s son in barbed wire and drown him

      Press on ALEC Exposed – SourceWatch

      Rancher Rebellion at the Malheur Refuge Is Nothing New. Just Ask Nancy Ferguson. – Willamette Week
      Ranchers arrested at wildlife refuge — High Country News
      The arrest of rancher Dwight Hammond for running cattle on a wildlife refuge provokes a wise-use backlash in Oregon.

      Ranchers at Center of Oregon Standoff Threatened to Wrap Official’s Son in Barbed Wire and Drown Him
      The two ranchers that inspired the standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon allegedly threatened the lives of federal employees working at the refuge.

      Rep. Grijalva Demands Federal Investigation into ALEC’s Role in Neo-Sagebrush Rebellion | PR Watch
      ALEC has long pushed bills promoting a “Sagebrush Rebellion,” an issue thrust into public view amidst an armed confrontation in Nevada

      slb_apr2015_item2.pdf

      The ‘Deep Pockets’ Behind the Oregon Takeover
      Ammon Bundy styles himself a leader of men, but his armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has become a trap.

      The Bundy Brigade’s Economic Delusions – The New Yorker
      James Surowiecki on the importance of government subsidies for ranchers in the West, and the contractions of the reclamation movement.

      The family arson behind the rise of Oregon’s armed protest | Fusion
      It starts with a deer hunting trip gone wrong.

      The folly of “taking back” the West — High Country News

      The Koch Brothers Used Cliven Bundy as Part Of Their Plan To Seize Public Land
      As it turns out, if the Koch brothers, ALEC, and Republicans expected Americans to rally behind Bundy and support their attempt to force the federal government to cede its land to states for the Koch brothers, they chose the wrong lunatic for their cause.
      The Oregon Militia Is Picking the Wrong Beef With the Feds | Mother Jones

      Thursday – 1/14/16 – Update (1) from Malheur Wildlife Refuge In Burns, Oregon – #OregonFront – YouTube

      Timber Oligarchs Transform Into Beef Barons in Harney County and the Oregon High Desert
      The addictive beauty of an ungrazed sagebrush expanse and big sky bordering Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Throughout the Ammon Bundy and militia thug

      Update: Oregon standoff meeting interrupted with announcement that altercation stopped speakers | OregonLive.com
      A person yells: “Someone’s been shot!”

      Remaining Oregon protesters issue death threats: ‘This is a free-for-all Armageddon’ – LA Times
      As law enforcement surrounded the remaining protesters at an Oregon wildlife refuge Wednesday, an armed occupier urged supporters to join them and to kill any law enforcement officer who tried prevent their entry, according to a livestream that has been broadcasting from the site.
      Eyewitnesses knock down conspiracy theories about LaVoy Finicum dying on his knees

      Convicted murderer from Los Osos is holed up with Oregon militia | The Tribune
      A Los Osos resident who was convicted of killing his father in 1977 is one of the armed militia members occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns County, Ore.

      Militia Movement Leader Fatally Shoots Fellow Patriot Between the Eyes in Drunken Dispute
      The militia’s plan to overthrow President Obama was solid. How did it go so wrong?

      The Money Behind Fox’s Promotion Of Cliven Bundy’s Battle With The Feds | Blog | Media Matters for America

      More Oregon occupiers arrested; others leave as standoff appears to fade – The Washington Post
      Three occupiers turned themselves in to law enforcement Wednesday, hours after leader Ammon Bundy called on his followers to “stand down.”

      Miller Homestead Fire – Google Search

      LaVoy Finicum’s family questions shooting despite FBI video – Yahoo News
      From Yahoo News: The FBI’s aggressive move to release video evidence which they say shows anti-government protester LaVoy Finicum reaching for a gun before being shot and killed by police apparently did little to persuade the dead man’s family.

      Jailed Oregon militants have extensive criminal histories — many aren’t even allowed to carry guns

      Clarke: Would-Be Philly Cop Killer Should Be ‘Charged With Treason,’ Obama ‘Incapable’ Of Protecting US | David Clarke Jr. THE MILWAUKEE COUNTY SHERIFF

      Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke goes full dogwhistle

      A Rational Case in Defense of Ammon Bundy and the Oregon Occupation: Sheriff David Clarke | Free Capitalist Project

      7 kinds of government subsidies those angry ranchers get that you don’t | Grist
      The armed militiamen squatting in Oregon oppose “Big Government,” except when it’s lining their pockets.

      Cliven Bundy Taunts Feds Over Malheur Takeover
      The Malheur takeover ain’t over ’til it’s over: Yesterday Cliven Bundy, father of Malheur takeover leader Ammon Bundy, published a certified letter he sent to Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, and U.S. President Barack Obama. In it, he pronounced that “we the people of Harney County” intend to “retain possession” of the federal preserve. The letter affirms his group’s intention of retaining possession of the federal natural reserve and is filled with ALEC talking-points on states rights.

      Bundy militants could be forced to repay $3.4 million to taxpayers over illegal stunt

      Third Cliven Bundy son behind bars after skipping court dates on burglary and weapons conviction

      Long Draw fire in Oregon’s southeast corner biggest in nearly 150 years | OregonLive.com
      Firefighters are battling large blazes on two fronts in southeast Oregon. Residents near Harney Lake were asked to evacuate.

      Cliven Bundy’s Namesake Goes To Prison | Crooks and Liars
      Cliven Lance Bundy is heading for a stint in the Big House.

      The REAL LaVoy Finicum? | The Pahvant Post

      Utah, the Kochs and Their Malheur Monster
      The armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has me once again feeling compelled to write about how Utah politicians and the Koch machine man

      Constitutional Crisis in the Heart of Dixie
      “Brethren and sisters, our friends wish to know our feelings towards the Government. I answer, they are first rate, and we will prove it too, as you will

      How the Bundy Gang Won
      One consequence of the Bundy Gang take-over of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in central Oregon has been the abundant media attention to their assert

      What did LaVoy Finicum die for? – LA Times
      The occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Ore., is mostly over. Four militants remain inside the refuge; 11 have been arrested and charged, including the Bundy brothers Ammon and Ryan. Only Robert “LaVoy” Finicum made good on his promise to die rather than submit to the..

      Inside The Backwards Ideology Driving The Right-Wing Militiamen Who Captured A Federal Building | ThinkProgress
      Cliven Bundy wants to tell you one more thing he knows about the Constitution.

      WTF Is Happening in the Oregon Militia Standoff, Explained | Rolling Stone
      Dozens of white, armed American militants have gathered in the state to take a stand against government “tyranny.”

      I’m an Oregon rancher. Here’s what you don’t understand about the Bundy standoff. – The Washington Post
      The Obama administration has pushed our livelihood to the brink.

      Oregon ranchers’ fight with feds sparks militias’ interest | OregonLive.com
      The Hammonds spent a half century building their ranching business that is now in jeopardy as prison looms.

      All Cattle & Calves by State…

      FINAL-Decision-Hammond_Redacted.pdf

      What is the link between the Oregon militants and Mormonism?

      You Need To Understand Mormonism If You Want To Understand The Oregon Standoff – BuzzFeed News
      Mormonism has a long, complicated history of conflict with the federal government, and that history is deeply informing the actions of the…

      The Bundy Family’s Odd Mormon Connection, Explained | ThinkProgress
      “The Bundys very closely link their Mormonism to conspiratorial Libertarianism.”

      Faces of the Malheur occupation: Meet the militants and their visitors | OregonLive.com
      Some protesters appear to have spent the night continuously, while others have come and gone. A few people describe themselves, in videos from the compound, as sympathetic visitors who drove great distances to see firsthand what’s happening.

      America’s Public Lands: origin, history, future – 150359 Public Lands Document_web.pdf

      territory.jpg (JPEG Image, 1409 × 1117 pixels) – Scaled (56%)

      AMERICAN WEST: STATE BY STATE page of ULTIMATE WESTERNS WEB GUIDE
      22 States of the Western USA: data, and hotlinks for each.

      Ammon Bundy Says He’s Following Directions From God

      Chevie Kehoe | Murderpedia, the encyclopedia of murderers
      Murderpedia, the free online encyclopedic dictionary of murderers. The largest database about serial killers, mass murderers and spree killers around the world

      Trail of Death Follows White Supremacist Gang Led by Chevie Kehoe | Southern Poverty Law Center
      The story of Chevie Kehoe and his family spans many states and years, and leaves a trail of death.
      Cliven Bundy’s Moronic Claims – Let’s Talk Nevada

      Doretta Marie Iverson Bundy

      Homestead Act – Facts & Summary – HISTORY.com
      Find out more about the history of Homestead Act, including videos, interesting articles, pictures, historical features and more. Get all the facts on HISTORY.com

      The 12 Scariest Findings in the New Report on the Bundy Ranch Standoff | The Nation
      A growing antigovernment movement has drawn a dangerous lesson from the standoff at Cliven Bundy’s ranch.

  3. Great article. As a former rangeland and wildlife manager, I have dealt with many ethical ranchers and then there are the crackpots who want to live the Sagebrush wars to their own advantage.

    Public lands are a treasure of recreational opportunities for the public and wildlife habitat. This is what has kept America the Beautiful, beautiful.

    They need to stop these lawbreakers as now they are embolden to come into my backyard. Go back to where you came from!

  4. So while our Pres. Obomber bombs out another oil war and releases terrorists from jail, he also arrests American cowboy ranchers?
    Time for change and moving forward, but in the correct direction this time.

  5. There is not only NO “smoking gun” but the thesis repeated in these articles has never been substantiated by any actual evidence and is contradicted by everything known about the Bundy family insurrection.

    While it’s true that ALEC et al are capitalizing on the Bundy complaints and actions, those Mormon anti-federalists take their inspiration and orders from a very different source.

    Cliven Bundy, at his 2014 Nevada ranch standoff with the BLM, as well as his sons and many of the other militants at Malheur Refuge, were often seen carrying a copy of the Freemen Institute’s pocket Constitution in their shirts.

    The Freemen Institute, now called the National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS), is a conservative, religious-themed constitutionalist organization, founded by Latter-Day Saint political writer W. Cleon Skousen (1913-2006).

    According to the NCCS, the founding of the United States was a divine miracle. As such, the NCCS worldview and program are based on two major pillars: (1) understanding the divine guidance that has allowed the United States to thrive and (2) rejecting the sometimes tyrannical and/or sinful deviations of the modern US federal government from that divine mold.

    Skouson has influenced and been cited by Senator Orrin Hatch, Mitt Romney, Glenn Beck, and Ben Carson. Though the LDS leadership has distanced itself from Skouson, his ideas remain a source of inspiration among the most extreme anti-government activists today, particularly those of Mormon faith.

    At the Malheur Refuge occupation, Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, LaVoy Finicum (who was the only casualty) and others were regularly seen carrying the Freemen Constitution in their shirt pockets.

    On the front cover of the Freemen Pocket Constitution is printed: “The Constitution of the United States …its only keepers, the people – George Washington”.

    Cleon Skousen was a strident anti-communist and supporter of the John Birch Society, as well as a popularizer of Mormon end-time eschatology and New World Order conspiracies. Skousen regarded all federal regulatory agencies as illegitimate, argued against the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, wanted to repeal the minimum wage, eliminate unions, nullify anti-discrimination laws, sell off public lands and national parks, end the direct election of senators, eliminate the income tax and the estate tax, remove the walls separating church and state, and end the Federal Reserve System.

    It’s easy to trace Skousen’s claim of divine guidance, his ferocious anti-federalism and his end-time theology directly to the Bundy men – father and sons.

    Support for their beliefs is found in “natural law” that Ammon Bundy says the “Lord had built into us”. “I know that what we did is right. I know the Lord is involved. I know we are going to see great things come from this.”

    “Anybody who dares to say that there’s a supreme law, that government has rules that they’re supposed to abide by – anybody who does that, all of a sudden now they’re terrorists,” Ammon said.

    Cliven Bundy says he recognizes only state and county authority, not Washington’s. “I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing,” Cliven Bundy said in 2014. “I abide by almost zero federal laws.”

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