Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy made headway earlier this year for refusing to pay mandatory cattle grazing fees to the federal government for over 20 years. Bundy owes the government more than $1 million in back fees and refused to make the payment because he claims his family has the rights to the land. Bundy's claims conflict with the Nevada state constitution and multiple court rulings. Federal agents from the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) began rounding up Bundy's cattle, but released them back to the Nevada Rancher after supporters armed with weapons protested. The BLM decided that an argument over grazing fees and cattle wasn't worth a potential blood bath. Bundy previously paid the fees in 1986 after Republican President Ronald Reagan issued an executive order, but stopped in 1993 after Democrat Bill Clinton came into the White House
Republicans and the conservative media were quick to jump to the defense of Bundy, arguing that Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) was attempting to clear out Bundy from the property in an attempt to help his son use the land for a solar plant built by a company in China. Those allegations proved to be false. Bundy quickly fell out of favor with Republicans and the right wing media after a racist rant was caught on film and uploaded to the internet. What is more alarming about Cliven Bundy is that he owes more in back grazing fees than all other ranchers combined.
According to a new report by Environment & Energy Publishing, Cliven Bundy owes more than four times as much money than all other ranchers who graze on federal land.
"Of the roughly 16,000 ranchers who graze cattle on BLM lands, 458 have late grazing bills totaling $237,000, according to agency data.
Compare that to the more than $1 million Bundy owes Uncle Sam for refusing to pay grazing fees on his Bunkerville, Nev., allotment beginning in 1993 and for trespassing fees he has been accruing since 1998."
E&E Publishing also notes that less than one percent of ranchers have grazing bills that are more than two months behind in payment. It's interesting to note that while conservatives complained about high grazing fees on the federal land, the cost is far below what it is to graze on private and state land. Ranchers pay $1.35 per month for each cow and calf on both BLM and Forest Service lands and do so on 155 million acres across the country.
Cliven Bundy might have had his 15 minutes of fame as a conservative hero, but once the reality of his personality and the facts of the situation became clear, he quickly faded into just another freeloading moocher.