WASHINGTON, D.C. – On January 8, 2018, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed “with prejudice” the federal criminal conspiracy and weapons charges against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, two of his sons, and an independent militia member because of “flagrant prosecutorial misconduct.”
The story behind the Bundy Ranch standoff and subsequent criminal cases cannot be fully understood without knowing that the case was precipitated by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat. Reid coveted the Bundy Ranch grazing areas because Reid needed that land to advance the plans for him and his family to profit from the Obama administration’s push to develop renewable energies.
Judge Navarro set Bundy and the other defendants involved in the trial free from the risk of being prosecuted again for the alleged offenses resulting from the 2014 standoff with federal authorities near Bundy’s ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada. But Navarro’s decision, as we will see, left in limbo two defendants who had already been convicted of crimes and one defendant who mistakenly pleaded guilty.
The Bundy Ranch case is also notable for the courage and determination of defense attorney Larry Klayman, a conservative/libertarian activist attorney, who from the beginning of the case argued that the Obama administration was conducting a political prosecution against Bundy and the other defendants. Klayman fought and beat an Obama DOJ determined to use unethical tactics to put Bundy and those who stood with him in jail for a long time.
Bundy’s only offense was that he grazed his cattle on open land in Nevada that his family had used for decades. Bundy’s adversary, Sen. Reid, was willing to allow the DOJ to engage in prosecutorial misconduct just so he could grab for himself and his family a fortune derived from Obama’s ill-advised boondoggles into taxpayer-funded, economically-doomed solar energy projects.
When Reid’s solar energy fiasco failed, the Obama administration still pushed the DOJ to continue prosecuting Bundy as part of a cover-up designed to hide the administration’s embarrassment that solar energy projects had become corrupted not only by politicians like Reid, but also by Reid’s immediate family, and, ultimately, by the communist Chinese via Reid’s association with Chinese energy giant ENN.
A biased judge
What was remarkable about Navarro’s decision to dismiss the case with prejudice was that the DOJ had chosen Navarro precisely because they knew she was an Obama supporter and had reason to believe Navarro was biased from the beginning against Bundy. Reid and his Nevada co-conspirators had ample reasons to believe Navarro would conduct a rigged trial in which Bundy and his co-defendants would be found guilty. On December 24, 2009, President Obama nominated Navarro to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, and she was the hand-picked choice of former Sen. Harry Reid to fill the vacancy created by Judge Brian Sandoval.
On May 25, 2016, Navarro refused to remove herself from the Bundy trials after Klayman charged she was part of a conspiracy with President Barack Obama and Sen. Reid to deny Bundy a fair trial. Standing outside the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse in Las Vegas, with Cliven Bundy at his side, Klayman told the press Navarro’s decision was an outrageous miscarriage of justice that would be appealed. “This is one of the most egregious displays of misconduct I’ve seen in my 40 years as a lawyer,” Klayman said. “Her [Judge Navarro’s] order openly seeks to protect Harry Reid.”
In making her ruling dismissing the charges against Bundy, Navarro said federal prosecutors acted recklessly and engaged in a “deliberate attempt to mislead and distort the truth” by failing to turn over evidence that could have helped exonerate the four defendants. “The court finds that the universal sense of justice has been violated. The government conduct in this case was, indeed, outrageous.”
To longtime observers of the Bundy standoff controversy, Navarro’s decision was startling; Bundy had suffered solitary confinement in prison and his request to post bail was denied because judges like Navarro considered him a flight risk, despite the fact that he was a septuagenarian, Nevada-born native with a deep family history of ranching county land around Lake Mead.
How the Bundy standoff developed
The dispute that led to the 2014 standoff began in 1993, when federal authorities changed grazing rules, rejecting Bundy’s assertion that he had and his family had enjoyed water and grazing rights for 150 years on some 400,000 acres in and around Lake Mead in Clark County, Nevada. In the ensuing 20-year-long legal dispute, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) charged Bundy with unpaid grazing fees for grazing his cattle on what they insisted was federal property.
The dispute escalated in 2014, when BLM began rounding up cattle grazing on the land. To round up the Bundy cattle, BLM officers, with support of FBI special agents, stormed the Bundy ranch in Bunkerville. Bundy’s attorney, Larry Klayman, claimed the 2014 BLM/FBI raid “threatened the lives of the Bundys, violently assaulted family members when they would not relinquish their cattle and then, for ‘good measure,’ killed male cattle used to procreate the herd and buried them in a secret mass grave.”
The Bundy family, with the aid of nearby farmers and supporters from around the country armed allegedly for self-defense, confronted the BLM “cattle gathers” in a standoff that drew nationwide publicity. The situation was de-escalated by BLM Director Neil Kornze, an Obama appointee, who chose to avoid bloodshed by releasing to Bundy his cattle, in a move that allowed Bundy to continue grazing his cattle on the disputed federal land without obtaining a permit or paying a fee.
On February 10, 2016, Bundy was arrested at Portland International Airport as he was attempting to travel to support two of his sons, Ammon and Ryan, in their standoff with federal authorities over the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon. Subsequent to his arrest, Bundy faced weapons charges as well as federal criminal charges of a conspiracy to interfere with a federal officer over the 2014 standoff with federal authorities at the Bundy ranch.
Two weeks before dismissing the case altogether, Judge Navarro declared a mistrial in the Bundy case after determining that the prosecution had suppressed evidence from FBI surveillance cameras recording the Bundy family at home and the presence of BLM snipers around the property in the days leading up to the 2014 standoff there. Additionally, Navarro determined the prosecution did not provide FBI logs, maps, reports, and threat assessments that said the Bundy family was not dangerous, despite FBI claims to the contrary in 2014.
Harry Reid pushed solar energy in Nevada
The push for solar energy in Nevada appears to have strong financial ties to Democratic Party donors.
On March 21, 2014, Nevada Business published a photograph showing Reid joining representatives from the Moapa Band of Paiutes, executives from First Solar, Inc., and representatives of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, breaking ground on the 250-megawatt Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project that is planned to deliver renewable energy to the city of Los Angeles for the next 24 years.
The leaseholder on the Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project is K Road Power, LLC, a New York City-based energy company that employs as business manager Jonathan Magaziner, a former associate of the Clinton Climate Initiative of the William J. Clinton Foundation.
Jonathan Magaziner is the son of Ira Magaziner, who served President Bill Clinton in the White House first in leading with Hillary Clinton the Task Force to Reform Health Care, then as senior policy advisor for policy development from 1993 through 1998. Magaziner currently serves as chief executive officer and vice chairman of the Clinton Health Access Initiative and chairman of the Clinton Climate Initiative, where he has been allegedly involved in the scandal involving the Clinton Foundation delivering to Africa defective HIV/AIDS generic drugs manufactured by Ranbaxy in India.
According to research conducted by investigative reporter Christine Lakatos, First Solar, Inc. was an early green investment funded by Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment banking firm that ranked as a top $1 million contributor to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Lakatos also documented that First Solar investors include bundlers Bruce Heyman and David Heller, two Goldman Sachs executives who sat on Obama’s 2008 Finance Committee.
Peter Schweizer, in his 2011 book entitled Throw Them All Out, also lists Michael Ahearn, First Solar’s chief executive officer, as having given generously and exclusively to Democrats, while pointing out that billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones, another Obama bundler, owns a major stake in First Solar.
On March 18, 2012, the Washington Examiner, in an article entitled “Firm sells solar panels – to itself, taxpayers pay,” reported that First Solar received a $16.3 million subsidy to expand its factory in Ohio in 2010, followed by a $455.7 million taxpayer-funded loan guarantee awarded by the Export-Import Bank to subsidize the sale of solar panels to a solar company from Canada.
“A small corporation called St. Clair Solar owned the solar firm and was the Canadian company buying First Solar’s panels,” the Washington Examiner pointed out. “But St. Clair Solar was a wholly owned subsidiary of First Solar. So basically, First Solar was shipping its solar panels from Ohio to a solar farm it owned in Canada, and the U.S. taxpayers were subsidizing this ‘export.’”
Harry Reid lands Chinese solar investments in Nevada
On April 3, 3012, Bloomberg reported that Chinese billionaire Wang Yusuo, one of China’s richest citizens and the founder of Chinese energy giant ENN Group, had teamed up with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to win incentives -- including land 113 miles southeast of Las Vegas that ENN sought to buy for $4.5 million, less than one-eighth of the land’s $38.6 million assessment value.
The Bloomberg article reported ENN intended to create solar energy farms on the Nevada land (despite the nearly 50 percent plunge in solar panel prices globally in the previous 15 months that led to the bankruptcy of solar equipment maker Solyndra LLC, which had received approximately $535 million in U.S. government loan guarantees). Bloomberg further documented ENN had contributed $40,650 individually and through its political action committee to Senator Reid over the previous three election cycles.
Subsequently, on September 4, 2012, Breitbart.com reported that lawyer Rory Reid, the son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, had been appointed the primary representative for ENN Energy Group, fronting the bid by the Chinese company to build a $5 billion solar panel plant on a 9,000-acre Clark County desert plot in Laughlin, Nevada.
A Reuters report published on August 31, 2012 documented that Reid was recruited by ENN during a 2011 trip he took to China with nine other U.S. senators, supposedly to invite Chinese investment in the United States. The Senate group accompanying Reid on this trip included six other Democrats and three Republicans: Richard Shelby, R-Ala.; Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.; Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; and Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
Why Harry Reid coveted Bundy Ranch grazing land
On April 9, 2014, the U.S. Senate in a 71-28 vote confirmed Neil Kornze, a former senior adviser to Reid, to head the Bureau of Land Management.
At BLM, which Kornze originally joined in 2011, Kornze distinguished himself by spearheading BLM’s “Western Solar Energy” plan, which produced a “Final Pragmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States” in 2012.
This document served as a blueprint for the federal government to transform thousands of acres of public land and range land used by ranchers to feed cattle throughout six southwestern states into massive government-sponsored solar energy plants and farms. The document called for the federal government to implement this plan by transforming thousands of acres throughout six southwestern states into alternative habitats.
Once the alternative habitats were established, the federal government plan envisioned relocating endangered species from private land to the alternative habitats. Once free of endangered species, the private land could then be sold or otherwise developed to create planned Solar Energy Zones, or SEZs. The goal of the alternative habitats was to “mitigate” the potential environmental impact of the planned SEZs.
A BLM study entitled “Regional Mitigation Strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone, Technical Note 444,” dated March 2014, identified Bunkerville, Nevada, as a mitigation area for the Dry Lake SEZ. A BLM map of the “Bundy Cattle Trespass Overview,” identified the land used by the Bundy ranch for cattle grazing as being on public land adjoining the Moapa Indian Reservation, site of the First Solar project referenced above.
A document removed from the BLM website but archived on the Internet in Internet archive files clearly notes complaints that Cliven Bundy’s “cattle trespass impacts” include “concern that the regional mitigation strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone utilizes Gold Butte as the location for impacts from solar development, and that those restoration activities are not durable with the presence of the trespass cattle.”
What this means is that Bundy’s cattle allowed to graze on federal lands in the Gold Butte area were not compatible with moving endangered tortoises there as part of the “mitigation strategy” planned for the Dry Lake SEZ.
“A tortoise isn’t the reason why BLM is harassing a 67-year-old rancher,” blogger Dana Loesch wrote in 2014. “They want his land.”
Loesch pointed out that Reid had been accused of using the BLM to control Nevada land, and to pay back special interests, including his top donor, Harvey Whittemore. Whittemore urged Reid to have the habitat of the desert tortoise moved before he was convicted of violating federal election laws and sentenced to two years in prison for illegally funneling more than $130,000 to Reid’s 2007 re-election campaign.
Harry Reid’s energy plans in Nevada collapse
In early 2012, the Reid push to increase solar energy in Nevada suffered a major setback when NV Energy, a Nevada public utility providing electric service in northern and southern Nevada, including the Las Vegas metropolitan area, rebuffed pressure by Reid to purchase solar energy generated by the Reid-backed ENN Group.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal further reported that NV Energy was not in the market for more renewable energy at that time because the utility already exceeded the state’s requirement that 15 percent of its portfolio originate from clean sources.
Then, on April 5, 2012, Bloomberg reported that the Reid-sponsored deal to have ENN Group invest $5 billion in a solar plant and energy-generating farm in Laughlin, Nevada, was on the ropes because Reid and ENN were unable to find a utility company willing to buy the solar energy.
On June 17, 2013, the Associated Press reported ENN Group had dropped its plans to build the $5 billion solar project, noting that ENN Mojave Energy LLC officials had informed Clark County officials the company was terminating its agreement to purchase 9,000 acres because the company was unable to sign public utilities in either Nevada or California to agree to purchase the solar energy generated.
On June 14, 2014, the Clark County Commissioner explained to the Las Vegas Sun that, “Alternative energies are still more expensive than fossil fuels and they [ENN] couldn’t get (the costs) down to a point where they could sell any of the power. Even if we had given them an extension for a year or two, it wouldn’t have made a difference.”
Bundy Ranch prosecutions not finished
Despite the collapse of Harry Reid’s solar energy projects in Nevada and Judge Navarro’s decision in January 2018, several of the Bundy defendants still face jail time.
Recent developments have caused Trump supporters to ask why Attorney General Jeff Sessions is allowing Obama holdovers in the Department of Justice to continue prosecuting Bundy Ranch cases, despite continuing setbacks.
In a move that has disappointed many of President Trump’s conservative and libertarian supporters, Sessions announced in a speech in Las Vegas on July 11, 2017, that he would not take sides or intervene to end any of the federal prosecutions brought by the Obama Justice Department over the 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff.
At the trial, Judge Navarro had refused to allow attorneys for the defendants to present arguments regarding First Amendment free speech rights or Second Amendment rights to bear arms, ruling both lines of argumentation were not relevant to the criminal charges the four defendants faced.
Bundy defendant who pleaded guilty serving seven-year prison sentence
Even more outrageous, Gerald “Jerry” DeLemus of Rochester, New Hampshire, was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment after Judge Navarro refused to allow him to change his plea from guilty to “not guilty.” After reading a headline from the Drudge Report in April 2014 that read: “Heavily-Armed Feds Surround Nevada Ranch,” DeLemus had gone to Nevada to help defend the Bundys.
His attorneys noted DeLemus “was surprised to see BLM agents in full tactical gear, carrying M-16’s, and holding snarling attack dogs while other agents tasered protesters and forcefully arrested members of the Bundy family.”
In denying DeLemus the right to change his plea, Judge Navarro ruled DeLemus had failed to display sufficient remorse for his actions, rejecting the argument that his Sixth Amendment rights had been violated because DeLemus lacked adequate legal counsel capable of apprising him of the legal charges and assisting him in pleading with full knowledge of the facts and the law.
In a pre-sentencing memorandum filed with Judge Navarro on May 27, 2017, defense attorneys argued that DeLemus had endured a difficult childhood, growing up in abject poverty, but he had never broken the law.
DeLemus moved out and began living on his own at the age of 16, while still attending high school. After graduation he joined the Marine Corps, where he achieved the rank of sergeant, earning two Good Conduct Medals, a Meritorious Mast, and a National Defense Service Medal.
“For the last forty-five years, DeLemus has supported himself and his family as a builder and contractor,” his attorneys pleaded. “He is devout in his faith and in support of his church. DeLemus regularly donates to charity, volunteers to assist the homeless, and sponsors needy families in foreign countries.”
While in custody, DeLemus was nominated for an award, along with a correctional officer, for administering CPR in an attempt to save the life of a fellow inmate.
The defense attorneys argued DeLemus should receive a minimum sentence because: (1) he did not point a gun at anyone; (2) he did not threaten anyone; (3) he did not intimidate anyone; (4) he was not present during the incident on April 12, 2014, from which most of the weapons charges emanated; (5) he had no knowledge of or involvement with the events of April 12, 2014; and (6) he did no harm to person or property.
In their pre-sentencing plea DeLemus’ attorneys argued as follows:
DeLemus believes in Government, but as is required of all conscientious men, there is an obligation to do what you consider to be morally right. By its very nature, civil disobedience is an affront to civilized society. However, it is sometimes an absolute necessity for the individual to exercise his conscience and morality to reconfigure the relationship between the Individual and the State in a peaceful manner. In this case, DeLemus was under the mistaken but justifiable belief that an injustice was occurring and that law enforcement, the Bundy family, and their children, were in danger of harm if he did not act.
Defense attorneys further argued DeLemus went to Nevada not to “fight” the BLM, but because he believed an injustice was being done by the federal government’s refusal to recognize ancestral and historical claims to the Bunkerville Allotment.
Formerly the co-chairman of the 2016 New Hampshire veterans’ coalition for Trump, DeLemus received a harsher prison sentence than prosecutors requested after Judge Navarro, sentencing DeLemus on May 31, 2017, characterized him as a “bully vigilante.”
Now serving out the remaining six years of his prison term, DeLemus was moved in August to the federal prison at Fort Devens in Ayers, Massachusetts, some 90 minutes away from his home and his wife.
Conclusion: A travesty of justice
In a letter addressed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions dated December 21, 2017, attorney Larry Klayman pleaded that all the prosecutions against the Bundy Ranch defendants should be dropped. Klayman pleaded that the Bundy Ranch prosecutions had been forced on former Attorney General Loretta Lynch by President Obama and Sen. Reid.
Klayman argued the prosecutions were “political in nature, since it had been reported that Harry Reid and his son Rory, a Las Vegas lawyer, were attempting to arrange an ‘under the table deal’ to sell the land to Chinese environmental interests.”
The Bundy Ranch prosecutions are a travesty of justice, demonstrating in vivid detail the degree to which the Obama administration politicized and weaponized the Department of Justice to serve the interests of political friends by attacking political enemies.
This is a pattern we are now seeing played out in the Obama administration decision to develop the “Russian Collusion” narrative as “insurance” to remove Donald Trump from office if he is lucky enough to pull off a miracle by winning the 2020 presidential election. President Trump must resolve to remove from the FBI and the DOJ all holdovers from the Obama administration.