Ammon Bundy, best known for leading the 2016 armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, announced last weekend that he is running for Governor of Idaho.
"I'm running for Governor because I'm sick and tired of all of this political garbage," he states on his campaign website. "I'm tired of our freedoms being taken from us and I'm tired of the corruption that is rampant in our state Government."
Bundy has become something of a figurehead for rural ranchers skeptical of federal power. Prior to the month-long Oregon standoff in 2016, he and his father, Cliven Bundy, were involved in a 2014 cattle grazing standoff with the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada.
Since 2016, Ammon Bundy has continued to be a controversial and outspoken activist against government overreach. In 2018, Bundy released a video criticizing Trump's immigration crackdown and put out a call to sponsor refugee families. Last July, he made a video in support of Black Lives Matter and defunding the police, stating that "you patriots, if you really want to call yourselves that, somehow think that the law enforcement is your golden calf…There needs to be a defunding of government in general."
Bundy was also arrested on trespassing charges last August after leading a protest at the Idaho statehouse against measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bundy is now trying to work within the state government, rather than against it.
"We cannot afford to have state leadership that lets the federal government bully us," said Bundy—who is running as a Republican—in a campaign video. "And it's an unfair fight when the federal government unlawfully attacks the people—believe me, I know, as my family and I experienced this first hand."
In another video on his campaign website, titled, "3 Lies the Mainstream Media Has Told You About Ammon Bundy," he denies that he is anti-government: "Think about it this way—if you don't eat poison, does it make you anti-food? If you don't do drugs, does it make you anti-medicine? And if I don't support government overreach nor the open, plain, and obvious corruption in government, does that make me anti-government or just anti-corruption? I think it's pretty obvious."
Bundy's platform—called the "Keep Idaho IDAHO Plan"—says he would curb government overreach in almost every way imaginable. He advocates for the elimination of all property tax, personal income tax, and personal property tax for businesses, calling it "nothing more than legal plunder." The only kind of tax that he supports is a consumption tax.
Bundy's platform also includes plans to take back Idaho's federally managed land, end restrictions on medical treatments, eliminate forced curricula in public schools, strip back gun control, and end state licensure for professions like hair styling.
Criminal justice reform figures heavily in the Keep Idaho IDAHO plan. Bundy supports increasing accountability for police officers and ending civil asset forfeiture. He also supports ending the war on drugs by stopping the incarceration of drug users.
"The propaganda machine has worked diligently for years to create a strange dichotomy as it pertains to Law Enforcement—either you love everything that all police officers do everywhere, no matter how illegal, unethical, or immoral it is—or you are 'anti-cop' and you hate the police," said Bundy in another video on his campaign site.
"I don't hate the police," Bundy continued. "I love and honor every honest police officer who executes his duties according to the Constitution and with the fear of God. Likewise, I detest any police officer who abuses his power, terrorizes innocent citizens, and violates peoples' rights simply because he can get away with it."
To decrease incarceration rates, Bundy proposes Idaho enact "Restitution and Restoration Laws." He sees these as a better and more economical way to deal with non-violent crime:
It is simple, if someone steals your iPhone, it must be immediately returned to you along with a judgment in your favor for and an additional 20% of the value of it. That's it. It's simple. Restitution and restoration. If you're a victim of a non-violent crime, you get restored, plus 20%…There is no reason for us to incarcerate so many non-violent criminals.
Bundy was not available for comment.