- A retired criminal investigator for the Forest Service said in a letter Wednesday that President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management was actively involved in the planning of a 1989 eco-terrorism incident.
- The retired investigator said the nominee, Tracy Stone-Manning, was “extremely difficult to work with; in fact, she was the nastiest of the suspects … She was vulgar, antagonistic and extremely anti-government.”
- The investigator said Stone-Manning’s refusal to cooperate with his investigation set his case back by many years.
- Stone-Manning received legal immunity from prosecution in 1993 to testify that she mailed an anonymous and threatening letter in 1989 warning that a local Idaho forest had been sabotaged with tree spikes.
- Stone-Manning told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in May that she was never the subject of a criminal investigation.
- The retired investigator said that is not true: “She was aware that she was being investigated in 1989 and again in 1993 when she agreed to the immunity deal with the government to avoid criminal felony prosecution. I know, because I was the Special Agent in Charge of the Investigation.”
A retired criminal investigator for the Forest Service who served as the lead investigator into a 1989 tree spiking case in Idaho revealed Wednesday that President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management was actively involved in the planning of the eco-terrorism incident.
The investigator, Michael Merkley, said in a letter obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation that Stone-Manning was “extremely difficult to work with; in fact, she was the nastiest of the suspects” during the initial stages of his investigation in 1989.
“She was vulgar, antagonistic and extremely anti-government,” Merkley said.
Merkley said that Stone-Manning refused to answer any questions when she was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in 1989. Her refusal to cooperate with his investigation set the case back by many years, according to Merkely.
“Eventually, after further investigation, I discovered that she had known all along who had perpetrated the crimes,” he said.
Merkley’s letter was addressed to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and the committee’s ranking member Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming. The letter was first reported by Politico.
Merkley said he learned in December 1992 from the ex-girlfriend of one of the individuals who was later convicted for spiking the trees that Stone-Manning was the person responsible for mailing an anonymous and threatening letter to the Forest Service warning that the Idaho forest had been sabotaged with tree spikes.
The ex-girlfriend “also recounted a conversation she had overheard wherein Ms. Stone-Manning along with other co-conspirators planned the tree spiking and discussed whether to use ceramic or metal spikes.”
Merkley said that through the ex-girlfriend’s account “it became clear that Ms. Stone-Manning was an active member of the original group that planned the spiking of the Post Office Timber Sale trees.”
Merkley added that the ex-girlfriend’s testimony led a grand jury to send Stone-Manning a “target letter” informing her she was set to be indicted on criminal charges for her “active participation in planning these crimes.”
Stone-Manning told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in writing in May that she has never been the target of a federal criminal investigation, but her testimony before a federal grand jury in 1989 and during a criminal trial in 1993 ultimately led to the conviction of an individual who had sabotaged a local forest with tree spikes.
As previously reported by the DCNF, Stone-Manning received legal immunity from prosecution in 1993 to testify against the suspects in the tree-spiking incident. She said in court that the key suspect, John P. Blount, asked her to send the anonymous and threatening letter to the forest service on his behalf.
But Merkley said in his letter Stone-Manning was no hero. The retired investigator said that while she did provide testimony against her “co-conspirators,” during the criminal trial, she has not been forthright about the role she played in the incident.
“Let me be clear. Ms. Stone-Manning only came forward after her attorney struck the immunity deal, and not before she was caught. At no time did she come forward of her own volition, and she was never entirely forthcoming,” Merkley wrote. “She was aware that she was being investigated in 1989 and again in 1993 when she agreed to the immunity deal with the government to avoid criminal felony prosecution. I know, because I was the Special Agent in Charge of the Investigation.”
Barrasso, the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Merkley’s letter proves that Stone-Manning actively collaborated with eco-terrorists and lied to his committee about her involvement in the incident.
“I am grateful to the lead investigator for providing the committee with all of the facts of the case,” Barrasso said in a statement to the DCNF. “Not only did Tracy Stone-Manning collaborate with eco-terrorists, she also helped plan the tree spiking in Clearwater National Forest.”
“She has been covering up these actions for decades, including on her sworn affidavit to the committee,” Barrasso added. “This new information confirms that Tracy Stone-Manning lied to the committee that she was never a target of an investigation. The nominee has no business leading the Bureau of Land Management. President Biden must withdraw her nomination and if he does not, the Senate must vote it down.”
Merkley’s letter comes after all Republican members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee came out Wednesday in a letter urging Biden to withdraw Stone-Manning’s nomination over her involvement in the tree spiking incident.
Manchin, the committee’s chairman, has yet to reveal how he will vote on Stone-Manning’s nomination, according to Politico.
The White House reiterated its support for Stone-Manning after being sent a copy of Merkley’s letter.
“Tracy Stone-Manning is a dedicated public servant who has years of experience and a proven track record of finding solutions and common ground when it comes to our public lands and waters,” a White House official told the DCNF. “She is exceptionally qualified to be the next Director of the Bureau of Land Management.”
By Andrew Kerr
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