BOISE, Idaho (AP) – Far-right activist Ammon Bundy says his time campaigning to be Idaho’s next governor should count towards the community service he’s been ordered to perform after being convicted of obstructing police during his arrest for trespassing on the State Capitol.
Aaron Welling, Bundy’s campaign treasurer, wrote to court officials late last month that Bundy had “completed 1,621 hours of public service” – citing what appear to be campaign activities.
In the letter submitted with Bundy’s election campaign letterhead, Welling said the candidate traveled around the state while encouraging people to “become more active in empowering public officials” and that Bundy also encouraged people to register to vote.
Bundy came to the attention of the international community when he led a group of armed activists during the occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016 to protest federal control of public lands.
He has filed documents to run for the Idaho governor’s overcrowded Republican primary next May. Outgoing Republican Governor of Idaho Brad Little is also expected to run but has not yet declared. Idaho is one of the most conservative American states and has not had a Democratic governor since 1995.
After Bundy was convicted in July of trespassing and resisting or obstructing agents on Capitol Hill, he was ordered to pay more than $ 1,000 in fines and eight days in jail. But the sentence was commuted to 40 hours of public service to be completed within 6 months.
When Welling was asked by the Idaho Press Newspaper whether the letter he sent to justice officials about Bundy described community service or campaign activities, Welling replied, “That’s what it is. . If the courts don’t like it, the courts don’t like it.
According to the Idaho Penal Code, the conviction “may include providing work and services to charities, government agencies, needy citizens, and nonprofit organizations.”
The conviction stems from Bundy’s arrest on August 25, 2020 when he refused to leave a Statehouse auditorium after officials ordered his evacuation. Officers said Bundy had also gone limp and refused to stand up and put his hands behind his back. The officers eventually brought Bundy out of the Capitol in a swivel chair.
The arrest came during a special session of the Idaho legislature called on lawmakers to address issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bundy was among dozens of protesters – many of whom were members of his “People’s Rights” organization – who attended the special session to protest because they were angry at the coronavirus restrictions. During a demonstration, unmasked protesters joined by Bundy forced their way into a gallery of the House with limited seating, smashing a glass door.
Bundy’s arrest came the next day in an auditorium used by lawmakers considering a measure on coronavirus liability. The meeting was interrupted and moved to another room after more than 100 protesters shouted at lawmakers. Most of the attendees then left, but Bundy and others decided to stay even after officers told them the hall was closed to the public.
During the occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016, Bundy and others were ultimately arrested, ending the 41-day occupation. An Oregon jury then acquitted Bundy of all federal charges in the case.
In 2014, Bundy, several of his brothers, and his father led an armed confrontation in Nevada with Bureau of Land Management agents who attempted to confiscate his father’s cattle for grazing on public land without a permit. Ammon Bundy spent nearly two years in federal custody before the case ended in a case called off.