Rancher Bundy once worked the system — with campaign cash

By Jennifer Yachnin | 01/06/2016 07:23 AM EST

Anti-government activist Ammon Bundy claimed the attention of presidential candidates this week when he staged an ongoing siege of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. But several years ago, he went about the same idea the old-fashioned way — with campaign contributions.

According to Federal Election Commission data, Bundy and his wife, Lisa, backed former Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s failed 2008 and 2012 Republican presidential primary bids.

Bundy, who is currently leading a group of militants who have dubbed themselves the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, gave $1,000 to Paul’s libertarian-themed campaign in 2008 and $500 to his campaign in 2012.


Lisa Bundy, who is identified as the owner of Valet Fleet Service LLC, also gave $2,500 to Paul in 2012. Campaign finance records maintained by the Arizona Secretary of State also show Lisa Bundy gave $5,000 to a state ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage in 2008.

In addition, Bundy’s brother Ryan, who is also involved in occupying the wildlife refuge, reported donating a total of $613 to Paul’s failed 2008 presidential campaign.

There are no records that either Ammon, Lisa or Ryan Bundy has contributed to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s current Republican primary campaign or any of the other 10 GOP candidates still competing this cycle. The senator is the son of the former House lawmaker.

FEC records do not indicate that Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy — Ammon Bundy’s father, who made headlines for his own 2014 standoff with the Bureau of Land Management over his decadeslong violation of grazing restrictions but is not involved in the current siege — has donated to any federal candidates.

Another individual identified as one of the militant occupiers is Arizona resident Jon Ritzheimer, who likewise does not appear in the FEC database.

During the same period when Bundy was an active donor to federal campaigns, he was also engaged with the federal government via the Small Business Administration, according to a report in Mother Jones. The liberal magazine reported that Bundy received a $530,000 loan guarantee in 2010 for his Phoenix-based business that repairs and maintains semitrailer trucks.

Jailed rancher was also a donor

Campaign finance records do show, however, that one of the two ranchers whose arson convictions sparked the Oregon protest has likewise supported federal candidates in past elections.

FEC records show Dwight Hammond, who started his five-year sentence along with son, Steven, at FCI Terminal Island, donated $750 to campaigns in 1998 (Greenwire, Jan. 5). Hammond’s wife, Susan, donated $2,550 to various campaigns between 1998 and 2010.

Among her contributions, Susan Hammond reported $950 in donations to Oregon Rep. Greg Walden’s (R) campaigns between 2001 and 2009.

Steven Hammond’s spouse, Earlyna, is also listed as having donated a total of $800 to Walden’s campaigns between 2008 and 2010. Walden, whose district includes the wildlife refuge under siege, is chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee — and expressed discomfort with the militants’ action earlier this week (E&E Daily, Jan. 5).

Hammond and his son had publicly stated that they did not want the assistance of the Bundy family ahead of the takeover of the refuge Saturday.