RELEASE: New ‘Bundy’s Buddies’ Report Identifies 15 Members of Congress Who Are Working to Seize or Sell Off U.S. Public Lands

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress Action Fund released the second installment in a series that examines the growing fringe of right-wing politicians and organizations who share Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s belief that the United States government has no legitimate authority over federal public lands and that those lands should be either seized by the states or sold off to the highest bidder.

Today’s report, which focuses on federal elected officials, identifies 15 members of Congress in seven states whose views on federal lands and federal authority are similar to those of Bundy. These members will also be featured on a new website——launched recently by the Center for Western Priorities to provide an in-depth look at the elected officials behind the land-seizure movement in the American West.

“Cliven Bundy is unfortunately not alone in his out-of-the mainstream views that public lands should be sold off or seized by the states,” said Matt Lee-Ashley, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “A network of ‘Bundy’s Buddies’ is now working to seize U.S. taxpayer-owned land in eight western states, and in Washington, 15 members of Congress are leading the charge to undo America’s proud commitment to our parks and public lands.”

The 15 members of Congress identified in today’s report include:

  • U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), who is expected to be the next chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources and an advocate for federal land seizure or sale
  • U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM), who has encouraged defiance of U.S. Forest Service rules and wants to “reverse the trend” of public ownership of land
  • U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the author of legislation to sell off more than 3 million acres of taxpayer-owned lands to private interests
  • 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. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), who endorsed Bundy’s cause and takeover of federal lands, which helped escalate tensions during the roundup of Bundy’s cattle
  • U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the self-described “leader in the Sagebrush Rebellion” who is “fighting to turn federal lands in our state over to Utahns to own and control”
  • U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who views the Utah effort to seize federal lands as an issue of “state sovereignty” and introduced legislation to sell off more than 3.3 million acres of federal lands to private interests
  • U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a champion of Sen. Lee’s legislation to sell more than 3 million acres of federal lands to private interests, including approximately 450,000 acres in Arizona

The other members of Congress identified in the report are U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT),  U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), and U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA).

The analysis use three measures to evaluate the proximity of individuals’ and organizations’ views on federal lands and federal authority to those of 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?

Today’s report also notes that the views of the so-called “Bundy’s Buddies” are out of the mainstream in the American West. A February survey commissioned by Colorado College found that 9 out of 10 western voters view their national forests, monuments, wildlife areas, and public lands as integral to their state’s economy.

The recent attention on Bundy and land-seizure efforts is also prompting a strong rebuke from mainstream users of public lands, including sportsmen, responsible OHV groups, and conservation organizations. They are calling for respect for the law and the protection of public lands.

Read the latest from Bundy’s Buddies:

To speak to an expert on this topic, contact Anne Shoup at  or 202.481.7146.