Over the weekend, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced it would stop trying to enforce a court order against Cliven Bundy over grazing fees the agency says Bundy owes them. Cattle from the Bundy family ranch in Nevada, which has been in operation since the 1880s, graze on land claimed by the feds. The BLM confiscated some cattle, but may now reportedly share the revenue from selling that cattle with the Bundy family. Bundy threatened a "range war" over the issue.
Despite the BLM's announcement, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told local TV station KRNV that the showdown wasn't over. "We can't have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it," said Reid. "So it's not over." How involved is Reid with the drama at the Bundy ranch? The Washington Times reports:
Speculation on Mr. Reid's role in last week's confrontation at the ranch has been rife, given his prominent position as Nevada's elder statesman and his ties to BLM director Neil Kornze.
Mr. Kornze, 35, served for eight years on the Senate leader's staff before joining the BLM in 2011. He was the Mr. Reid's pick to head the agency, and his final confirmation was April 8 as the roundup at the Bundy ranch was underway.
In an updated statement Saturday, Mr. Kornze said the cattle gather was halted "because of our grave concern about the safety of employees and members of the public."
Mr. Reid also has been accused of attempting to shut down the ranch in order to move ahead with two nearby solar energy projects, an accusation denied Monday by the senator's press aide.
Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman told KLAS-TV in Las Vegas that "there is no truth to the conspiracy theories that are being pushed by right-wing media outlets." Orthman's attack on "right-wing media outlets" and "conspiracy theories" may be a case of the lady protesting too much. Politicians on both sides of the aisle often make money hand over fist because of their connections to the feds and the insider information they have access to.
Bundy argues the land his family uses for cattle grazing actually belongs to the state of Nevada, whose laws permit them to graze on it. The feds and their apologists argue the federal government owns the land, or is holding it in trust "for all of us." Protesters who arrived to defend the Bundy family have declared victory, and the family hopes recent events may put pressure on a judge to rule in the state's favor. Bundy says he's now inspecting his cattle for possible damage by federal agents.
A raid on the ranch may still be being planned, according to the executive director of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association.
The feds control vast swaths of land in the West. Here is a map that shows the proportion of land the feds own in each state: