It all began in 1989 when federal agents sent a notice to the Bundys to inform them that their cattle had roamed too far and had “intentionally” grazed on federal land. The first question to be asked by the Bundys was proof of the cattle grazing on federal land, and the second was proof that the land was in fact owned by the federal government.
As it turned out, the land wasn't legally “owned”, but had been claimed and managed nonetheless. This one stipulation set up a confrontation with the Bundys that would last for three full years. Cliven Bundy opted to ignore the violation fee because he felt that the federal government (and in particular, the Bureau of Land Management) had not proven its case that they legally owned the land upon which they claimed the Bundy cattle were grazing.
In response, the government then claimed that a desert tortoise which inhabited this area had become endangered and they moved to block any previous grazing rights for the ranchers in that area.
In order for the Bureau to prove its case, they needed photographic or video evidence. They employed several different methods and filed that information, again sending a request to the Bundy ranch to pay up!
The fee letters continued while the Bundys ignored the requests. They felt that this was a bogus case of government overreach and tacked on the fact that they didn't actually legally own the land anyway.
Finally, after three years of this back and forth, the final letter was sent. It claimed that the Bundys owed nearly $300K in fees from 2008-2011. This time, the federal agents didn't wait long for an answer.
They showed up at the ranch, fully armed and ready for confrontation. They began to take possession of the cattle, herding them into cattle cars, all the while doing so without a court order. Cliven Bundy notified the press, the public, and fellow ranchers of this egregious draconian display by the Bureau.
What happened next was truly inspiring. Hundreds of fellow ranchers showed up at the Bundy ranch to show their support. They, too, were heavily armed and ready for a stand-off. Within days, after tensions grew, the federal agents were given the stand-down order and things appeared to reduce to a simmer. That is, until the federal agents returned to steal the rest of the Bundy cattle, eventually putting some of them to death.
After a lengthy court battle, the Bundys claimed victory when their cattle was finally returned. Senator Harry Reid, who just happens to own 93 acres near the ranch, took to the airwaves to assure America that “this is not over.”
Fast forward to 2017 where 71-year-old Cliven and his two sons, Ammon and Ryan, are serving life sentences for their refusal to abide by the land strictures of the Bureau and pay the fines levied.
Understand that the US government's prosecutors continually claimed that the Bundys owed more than a $1M in fees and that they had violated the Bunkerville Allotment (the area of land in dispute that the government insists Bundy's cattle were “intentionally” grazing (damn those ignorant steers!).
Some of the truth has come out this week where the actual amount that the Bundys owed was nothing near to $1M, as continuously claimed. In fact, it wasn't even tenth of that amount. How much did the Bundys really owe, according to letters from the Bureau of Land Management? $8,815.50!
Last week, as the trial of Cliven, Ammon, and Ryan Bundy, along with Ryan Payne got underway, we reported on bombshells that were dropped by government witness Mary Ann Rugwell (my apologies for misspelling her name in the previous report), in which she testified that the Bureau of Land Management was not only supposed to merely round up the cattle and give them back to the Bundys, but that Cliven only owed $8,815 in trespass fees over ten years, not millions.
Just so we're clear, even Fox News continues promoting the narrative that the Bundys owe millions to the government.
However, the truth is that documents are clear that the money owed was less than $10,000 before the feds got involved.
First, take a look at this letter from the Bureau of Land Management dated January 21, 2011 (courtesy of Redoubt News).
Notice the government claims that because Bundy's cattle wandered on to land that the US government claims they own, even though they don't own it constitutionally.
Furthermore, Bundy was charged $200.00 per head of cattle for “trespassing damages.”
One has to ask what damage was actually incurred by those cattle wandering onto that land. How did they arrive at a price of $200.00 per head of cattle?
The letter cites part of the US Code to claim Bundy was in violation of the law, and makes mention of an article in Las Vegas City Life that “demonstrates” he was “aware” of “continued willful trespass.”
Again, the obvious question, pertaining to the Constitution is, by what authority did the US government claim that land was theirs in the first place. I'll remind you of that in a moment.
Here's a letter stating the amount owed.
Notice the charges. The trespass fee was only $8,815.50. That's it. That's all he owed.
Of course, they are tacking on a $10.00 service charge for sending him a bill, but then they add in $283,776.00 in administrative fees for “investigation, detection and resolution of the trespass.”
No, seriously, only the US government could think they could get away with something so ridiculous.
So when it's broken down into common sense fees and fines, the Bundys 150-year business and their lifestyle was stolen and ruined for their untold future generations over a false claim of ownership by the government and for a paltry $8,000! This is the height of hypocrisy and overreach and is something that officials in Congress need to act on immediately. This 71-year-old man still sits in prison, not allowed to even attend the trial because they “fear” that he won't behave himself. C'mon!
How much time and money does it actually take to verify is cattle wandered off a portion of land onto another portion of land? How many people would have to actually be involved in that process?
Part of those “administrative costs” was $44,542 for helicopter flight time.
Also, the periods of time for confirming cattle on the land seem to be seriously inconsistent. Thanks to documents from Shari Dovale, I was able to see on page 31 of documents submitted to the court that there was a period of time from 03-21-2011 to 08-19-2011 in which cattle were allegedly discovered and fees of $6,562.50 were charged, but only 37.50 in administrative fees.
Additionally, after that long period of time, there was a two-day assessment that took place between 03-21-2011 and 03-24-2011 that other cattle were found, but only charged $825.00 and a $37.50 admin fee charged.
After that, virtually every other charge stemmed from a one-day event. Administrative fees ranged from $33.00 to $40.50.
There is no explanation for the up and down of the admin fees.
The total recorded count incidents on the documents were 41 from 05-29-2008 to 03-21-2011.
What are the rest of the “administrative charges” being assessed? Those are never broken down.
In the real world, only one person and it might take a couple of hours, including travel time. That's a far cry from nearly $300,000.00 in administrative fees!
Even at nearly $300,000 in fees, none of this is what Fox and the rest of the mainstream media have been reporting.
“Though the grazing fees are not the central part of the trial, it certainly is a major point for the public,” wrote Dovale.
That's correct. In the mind's of the public, the Bundys have been painted as hardened criminals and a threat to society owing millions of dollars.
This record proves the government and media narrative surrounding that is blatantly false.
What else is new with the federal government? When they want something, they can and will just take it. If they want your land that your house sits upon, they'll claim some impending environmental catastrophe or say that it's a watershed area and POOF! Instant government land.
They'll also condemn land for poison spills, oil spills, chemical tainting…pretty much anything they want to claim is right there at their fingertips. All they have to do is grease the palm of the right “expert” and the courts declare the government the winner.
Unfortunately, this too will require a draining of the Swamp and we've already seen how difficult it is to even reach the bottom. By that time, perhaps Cliven Bundy will suffer at the hands of ill health and this can all be swept under the proverbial rug.
P.S. Do not try researching this subject on Wikipedia. A very friendly Harry Reid Leftist already got in there and decided that Bundy was evil and the tortoise needed government lifelines. By the way…no mention in updates about the $1M being a false claim. Go figure.
Source: Freedom Outpost