Las Vegas Sun

July 29, 2014

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Sun editorial:

Debunking false claims of Bundy’s defenders

Rancher Cliven Bundy’s high-profile fight with the Bureau of Land Management has focused on his illegal use of federal land to graze his cows, but it seems to us there’s plenty of bull out in Bunkerville. Bundy and his supporters’ claims have gone viral on the Internet, but that doesn’t make them true. Here’s a look at some of the bogus claims.

Bundy’s family has been on the land since the BLM existed and has a right to it.

Bundy says his family pioneered the land in the 1870s and claims hundreds of thousands of acres of federal land as his “ancestral” land. Several federal judges have denied his claims, but Bundy can take consolation on his 160-acre ranch near Bunkerville. His parents bought it in the late 1940s. Court documents show that his father started running cattle on federal land, with a grazing permit, in 1954. That’s eight years after the BLM was created by the Interior Department, which, if you’re keeping score, has held the land for 165 years, well before the Bundys.

Bundy doesn’t owe the BLM a dime, much less the $1 million it says it does.

His supporters say he doesn’t owe the government anything because when he balked at BLM restrictions in 1993 and didn’t renew his permit, he didn’t agree to any terms. Thus, there’s no money due. Seriously? That’s like saying that a renter who refuses to sign a new lease can stay rent-free because he didn’t sign the deal. It’s simple: He used the land and owes the landowner. By refusing to pay, he’s cheating his fellow citizens.

This is a federal land grab. The government needs to give it back to Nevada.

There’s nothing to give back to Nevada. The land in question has never been Bundy’s or Nevada’s. Ever. The United States received the land in 1848 in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War. At statehood, in 1864, Nevada in its constitution waived any claim to the federal land “forever.”

State law claims the land for Nevada.

State law doesn’t trump federal law, as Bundy seems to believe. Nevada laws have essentially laid claim to much of the federal land, but for decades, courts have denied arguments that would support Nevada’s claim. And although voters repealed the “forever” clause in the state constitution, Congress hasn’t approved the change.

The militias and Bundy’s supporters are patriots, standing against government overreach.

It was odd to see Bundy and his supporters with copies of the U.S. Constitution in their pockets at their recent “patriot party,” because Bundy says he doesn’t recognize the federal government. The fact that he is disobeying a series of federal court orders adds to the irony. Being patriotic must mean there’s no need to abide by the rule of law.

Sen. Harry Reid is behind the government’s efforts to push Bundy off the land for …

A Chinese solar plant! A road! A mine! Harry Reid’s personal property! Please. Nothing we’ve examined comes close to having a whiff of truth. But that never stopped anyone on the Internet from claiming a conspiracy or adding more bunk to Bunkerville.

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