Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy owes more money to the federal government for outstanding grazing fees than all other ranchers combined, according to the Bureau of Land Management.
While Bundy owes more than a $1 million to the BLM, the total sum of all other late grazing fees totals a comparatively small $237,000, according to BLM data first reported by E&E News.
Bundy owes more than $1 million to the federal government for late grazing and trespassing fees, which he has been accruing since the 1990’s and refusing to pay. The dispute over those fees came to a head in April when Bundy and his supporters ended up in an armed standoff with federal officials.
Bundy has refused to accept federal authority, and refuses to pay the fees, but according to the new data, that makes him an anomaly. Roughly 16,000 public land ranchers graze cattle, sheep and other livestock on more than 21,000 allotments on 155 million acres of public land, according to the BLM. Only 458 of those ranchers have any late fees, meaning 97% are regularly paying their bills on time. Meanwhile, 99% of those who have outstanding fees are less than 60 days late with those payments, meaning Bundy’s 20 years’ worth outstanding fees are a big outlier.
“The vast majority of BLM grazing permittees pay their fees on time,” BLM spokesman Craig Leff said in a statement.
Permittees paid over $12 million in fees to the BLM in 2013, which are used for ranch improvements or shared with state governments where the livestock graze.
Bundy’s standoff earned him many supporters in the conservative media and even inspired some Republican lawmakers to praise his defiance, but many of those lawmakers began backtracking their support after comments Bundy made about “the Negro” wondering aloud whether African-Americans might have been better off as slaves.
“The question is, are they slaves the way they are, where they live as slaves to the charity and government-subsidized homes, and are they slaves when their daughters are having abortions and their sons are in the prisons?” Bundy said in the comments first reported by The New York Times.
In late May, Bundy and his wife formally left the Republican Party to register with the Independent American Party.