Cliven Bundy, possibly the most famous rancher in the United States after his stand-off with federal officials, has come forward to explain why he doesn’t recognize federal authority.
The Bureau of Land Management began rounding up Bundy’s cattle several weeks ago after years of trying to settle the issue in court. Bureau officials say that the land on which the cattle is grazing is protected federal land and that Bundy owes thousands of dollars in grazing fees. The land is also home to a protected tortoise species, an issue that has been linked to the cattle seizure.
The seizure sparked an outpouring of support for Bundy, including a number of militia members who came armed.
Federal officials eventually gave most of the cattle back to Bundy, citing potential danger for bureau employees.
Bundy came forward this week to explain why he refuses to recognize the federal claims to the land.
It’s Nevada land,” he told The Blaze, noting that he has “no contract with the United States government,” and the federal government has “no jurisdiction or authority” on his grazing rights, water rights, access rights, ranch improvement rights or anything else that “belongs to ‘we the people’ of Clark County.”
The rancher said that when Nevada became a state, the federal government turned the land over to the sovereignty of the state of Nevada, ceding its control.
“At the moment of statehood, what happened?” Bundy said. “At the moment of statehood the people of the territory become people of the United States with the Constitution, with equal footing to the original 13 states. They had boundaries allowing them a state line. And that boundary was divided into 17 subdivisions, which were counties. Which I live in one of those counties, Clark County, Nevada.”
“As a citizen of that county, I abide by all the state laws,” he concluded.
Tyler Lewis, from St. George, Utah, stands in the middle of north bound I-15 with his gun near Bunkerville, Nev. while gathering with other supporters of the Bundy family to challenge the Bureau of Land Management on April 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, Jason Bean)
Kholten Gleave, right, of Utah, pauses for the National Anthem outside of Bunkerville , Nev. while gathering with other supporters of the Bundy family to challenge the Bureau of Land Management on April 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, Jason Bean)
The Bundy family and their supporters drive their cattle back onto public land outside of Bunkerville, Nev. after they were released by the Bureau of Land Management on April 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, Jason Bean)
Bundy hasn’t paid grazing fees since 1993.
Notably, multiple state officials–including the governor–have sided with Bundy in the case.
The conclusion to the case, despite federal officials backing off for now, is not in sight, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this week that the situation “is not over.”
“We can’t have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it,” he told broadcaster KRNV.
Bundy responded on Fox News to the comments.
“Harry, get back there and take care of that work and leave us alone here in Nevada,” Bundy said.” “You have no business here in Clark County, Nevada.”
“I got something to say to Harry, ‘You know, Harry, Nevada citizens — we, the people — elected you to go back to United States Senate and take care of United States’ business,” Bundy said. “Which might be something like defend us from foreign nations.”