Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress launched a new series that will examine the growing fringe of right-wing politicians and organizations who share Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s belief that the U.S. government has no legitimate authority over federal lands and that those lands should be either seized by the states or sold off to the highest bidder.
CAP’s “Bundy’s Buddies” series is being launched in collaboration with the Denver-based Center for Western Priorities, or CWP, which today published a new website—www.BundysBuddies.org—that provides an in-depth look at the elected officials behind the land seizure movement in the West.
“Cliven Bundy is part of a growing fringe of right-wing politicians who think that America’s public lands should be seized by the states or sold off to the highest bidder,” said Matt Lee-Ashley, a Senior Fellow and Director of the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress. “This network of ‘Bundy’s Buddies’ is now advancing efforts to seize U.S. taxpayer-owned land in eight western states—a trend that is out of touch with the majority of Americans who love their public lands and think that everyone should play by the rules.”
The new series and website are being launched just a day before a Utah county commissioner reportedly plans to “assert county jurisdiction” over U.S. taxpayer-owned lands by leading an illegal all-terrain vehicle ride through a Utah canyon rich in sensitive cultural and archeological resources.
“Voters and the public have a right to know which of their elected officials supports the unconstitutional and wasteful notion that public lands should be seized by the states or privatized for drilling and mining,” said Jessica Goad, advocacy director at CWP. “BundysBuddies.org is a resource for those seeking more information about the growing number of politicians who are seeking to undermine America’s incredible system of public lands.”
The first installment in the Center for American Progress’ series highlights five prominent individuals and organizations—dubbed “Bundy’s Buddies”—whose stated views on federal lands and federal authority are similar to those of Mr. Bundy. They are:
- Utah State Rep. Ken Ivory (R), leader of the American Lands Council and the movement to seize federal lands in the West.
- San Juan County, Utah, Commissioner Phil Lyman, organizer of an illegal off-road vehicle rally scheduled for May 10 through Recapture Canyon in Utah, home to American Indian burial sites and artifacts.
- Americans for Prosperity, an organization funded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, it fanned the flames of the Bundy controversy.
- U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), one of Bundy’s strongest supporters during the confrontation with federal law enforcement authorities in Nevada, and an advocate for the sale of federal lands.
- U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), expected to be the next chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, and an advocate for federal land seizure or sale.
The Center for American Progress analysis use three measures to evaluate the proximity of individuals’ and organizations’ views on federal lands and federal authority to those of Mr. Bundy:
- Do they support the sell-off or state seizure of federal lands?
- Do they dispute the U.S. government’s authority over federal lands?
- Have they defied or encouraged defiance of federal law on public lands?
Over the coming weeks, the Center for American Progress and the Center for Western Priorities will continue track and publish information about elected officials, organizations, and prominent commentators who endorse the anti-government, anti-public land ideas propagated by Mr. Bundy during the armed confrontation he led in southern Nevada.
Read the analysis: Bundy’s Buddies: The Politicians and Pundits Who Share Cliven Bundy’s Radical Anti-Government Views and Want to Seize Federal Lands by Matt Lee-Ashley and Mari Hernandez
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