Defense attorneys for Cliven Bundy claim the federal agent in charge during the Nevada rancher’s 2014 standoff with authorities was the subject of an internal investigation that uncovered misconduct and ethics violations.
While the investigative report published last week by the Department of the Interior did not identify the agent by name, Bundy’s attorneys say it provides enough detail to identify the Bureau of Land Management official who is expected to be a key witness in Bundy’s trial.
According to the report, the agent used his power to benefit family and friends attending 2015’s Burning Man, a large annual gathering in northern Nevada, and also intervened in the hiring process that same year when a friend he did not make the initial list of candidates to be interviewed.
Las Vegas attorney Bret Whipple told local media if his suspicions are true then he will ask the court to dismiss charges for Bundy and his supporters who were arrested alongside him. Whipple and other defense attorneys are filing motion to confirm if Daniel Love, BLM special agent in charge for Utah and Nevada between 2012 and 2015, was the official in the report.
BLM spokesman Michael Richardson would not identify the agent in the report, calling it as a personnel matter. Yet, he did confirm the agent is still employed by the bureau, but did not disclose his current assignment. Richardson also confirmed that such allegations are taken “seriously” and do not align with the bureau’s mission.
The Bundy trial, which is the highest profile land use trial in modern Western history, is scheduled to begin this week. The 2014 confrontation between armed ranchers and federal officers was the result of a 20-year dispute over cattle grazing rights. The conflict was spurred after BLM officers tried to seize Bundy’s cattle as Bundy refused to pay more than $1 million in fees for using federal land.