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Bundy's Buddies: The Members of Congress and Congressional Hopefuls Who Want to Sell or Seize Public Lands in Your State

Ted Cruz

SOURCE: AP/Charlie Neibergall

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks in Ames, Iowa, on August 9, 2014.

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Across the country, a growing fringe of right-wing politicians are voicing their support for the radical idea that states should seize or sell off public lands to the highest bidder for drilling, mining, or logging. These elected officials and candidates echo the beliefs of outlaw rancher Cliven Bundy, who notably incited a dangerous standoff with federal officials in April over money owed to taxpayers for grazing cattle on public lands in Nevada. Although the majority of voters in the Western United States oppose the sale of public lands, more and more of these “Bundy’s Buddies” are speaking out in favor of these extremely expensive and unconstitutional schemes.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund’s series and the website BundysBuddies.com have previously profiled many of these Bundy’s Buddies. The map below identifies all of the Bundy’s Buddies across the country who currently hold or are running for federal elected office. It provides key information about the public lands that Bundy’s Buddies may sell off if they have the opportunity, including the three most visited public lands in each of the elected official’s and candidate’s 10 states. It also includes the amount of consumer spending on outdoor recreation in each state, which totals more than $200 billion across the 10 states.

The second installment of our “Bundy’s Buddies” series featured 15 incumbent members of Congress; we have now added Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID), as well as one new congressional hopeful from Arizona’s 1st district, who will join the previously identified candidates on the ballot in November 2014.

Arizona

  • U.S. Sen. John McCain (R) introduced legislation with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) to sell off more than 3 million acres of public lands, aiming to “reduce the federal estate” and seeking to “dispose land that the federal government simply does not want.”
  • U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R) was a champion and co-sponsor of Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R-UT) legislation, the Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act, which intended to sell off more than 3 million acres of federal land.
  • U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R) was also a key champion and co-sponsor of Rep. Chaffetz’s legislation, which would have authorized the sale of more than 450,000 acres of land in Arizona.
  • State Rep. Andy Tobin (R)* is challenging U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) in Arizona’s 1st District and has stated that he believes “Arizona is better capable to manage our lands than a bureaucrat from Washington DC.”

California

  • U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock (R) was an original co-sponsor and champion of Rep. Chaffetz’s legislation to sell off more than 3 million acres of federal land to private interests.
  • U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert (R) was an original co-sponsor and champion of Rep. Chaffetz’s legislation to sell off more than 3 million acres of federal land to private interests.
  • U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) was an original co-sponsor and champion of Rep. Chaffetz’s legislation to sell off more than 3 million acres of federal land to private interests.

Idaho

  • U.S. Rep. Raúl Labrador (R)* submitted a letter last year to the Idaho Legislature stating that he had “come to the conclusion that the federal management system is broken” and “if Congress is unable or unwilling to fix our broken public land management system, then perhaps the states should be given the opportunity to step into the void and be allowed to manage these precarious resources.” He also authored legislation—the Self-Sufficient Community Lands Act—to transfer about 200,000 acres of federal land to the state of Idaho.

Kentucky

  • U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R) is one of rancher Cliven Bundy’s strongest supporters, arguing that “Nevada and local authorities should control the [public] land.”

Nevada

  • U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R) supported Cliven Bundy during his standoff, calling it a “a pretty good example of why we might be better off if the state ran this property not the federal government.”

New Mexico

  • U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce (R) is committed to “[reversing] this trend of public ownership of lands” and has encouraged noncooperation with management rules in New Mexico national forests.

Oregon

  • Clackamas County Commissioner Tootie Smith (R), who is challenging Rep. Kurt Schrader (D) in Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, continues to urge the federal government to “return all federal lands in Oregon back to the counties where they are located and let the people manage them.”

Texas

  • U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R)* recently filed an amendment to the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 that would prevent the federal government from owning more than 50 percent of any state’s land and would require the immediate sale or transfer of any excess land.

Utah

  • U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R), who is “fighting to turn federal lands in our state over to Utahns,” has also described himself as a “leader in the Sagebrush Rebellion.”
  • U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R) introduced legislation to sell off more than 3 million acres of federal lands to private interests. He also has said that ownership of public lands is “as much about state sovereignty as it is about our state economy” and joined Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and the Utah delegation to “demand [the] transfer of public lands to Utah.”
  • U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R) is one of the strongest congressional proponents of turning federal land over to the states. In May, Rep. Bishop said, “states have shown themselves to be far more qualified than the federal government has” and that “we should try and transpose as much land to the state control as is humanly possible.”
  • U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart (R) campaigned for Congress in 2012 on a platform supporting the sell-off of public lands to private entities for energy development.
  • U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) authored legislation to sell off more than 3 million acres of public lands to private interests.
  • Former Mayor Mia Love (R), who is leading in the polls for Utah’s open 4th Congressional District seat, has clearly stated that she supports the “return of Utah lands from the federal government back to the state of Utah.”

Washington

  • U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R) was an original co-sponsor of Rep. Chaffetz’s legislation to sell off more than 3 million acres of public lands to private interests.

Claire Moser is a Research and Advocacy Associate with the Public Lands Project at American Progress. Matt Lee-Ashley is a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Public Lands Project at American Progress.

* New Bundy’s Buddies not previously identified in the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s series or on BundysBuddies.com.

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This is part of a special series: Bundy's Buddies

For more from this series, click here