As a lifelong Republican, I want to see the party finally put their proverbial foot down on “chaotic political theater”. The Idaho GOP took what looked like a bold stance on extremism that is dividing the Idaho Republican Party. The same party most multi-generational Idahoans have known their whole lives, yet hardly recognize anymore.
Now that we’ve all seen the Idaho GOP call out anti-law enforcement activity, perhaps it would be worthwhile to take a deeper look into Ammon Bundy’s supporters and enablers.
Ammon Bundy’s People’s Rights Organization
In the spring of 2020, Bundy launched a national movement called the People’s Rights Organization in a run-down warehouse in Emmett. Elected Republican legislators, registered Republican supporters, and Republican candidates flocked to this movement to attack our sitting Republican Governor Brad Little for following pandemic guidance set by the Trump administration.
Members of his organization went on to protest in front of a Republican legislator’s home, show up at a Meridian police officer’s private residence, scare the hell out of an Ada County commissioner’s children and terrorize a teenage intern who accused another Republican legislator of raping her. One devout Bundy supporter even spent time with Tom Luna at the Keep Idaho Red GOP event wearing a sash with the alleged rape victim’s name on it.
Will the Idaho Republican Party wean itself off of Ammon Bundy’s organization and their reprehensible antics?
The Coalition of Western States & Rep. Heather Scott
In January of 2016, a group called the “Coalition of Western States” (COWS) worked closely with Bundy to stage the deadly Malheur National Wildlife standoff. Members of militia groups working with Bundy were caught on video stating their intention of seeking out federal law enforcement employees and killing them along with their families.
COWS, a group led by Washington State Rep. Matt Shea and Idaho Rep. Heather Scott, infiltrated a meeting with the FBI and local law enforcement during the standoff. Shea and Scott provided information gleaned from the meeting to Ammon Bundy and his armed insurrectionists. Was that intelligence useful to Bundy in evading capture and likely obstructing local and federal law enforcement from doing their job safely?
If the situation had escalated as Matt Shea intended, would Rep. Scott’s assistance towards the insurgents put law enforcement officer’s lives at risk? Will the party denounce the actions of Rep. Scott and others who may have engaged in supporting an armed standoff against law enforcement?
State Senate Candidate Eric Parker
State Senate candidate Eric Parker is famous for pointing a rifle towards law enforcement officers during Ammon Bundy’s standoff in Nevada. While he dodged more serious charges through mistrials and acquittals, he still ended up guilty of obstruction of a court order.
Parker is the leader of the Real Idaho III% which has coordinated with Ammon Bundy over the years. Recently, Parker and Bundy worked together to try and defend Sean Anderson, a People’s Right area assistant, and active member of Parker’s III% paramilitary group. Anderson fired a shotgun at Idaho law enforcement officers after an extended vehicle chase last summer.
Shortly before the shooting, Andersen had spoken at one of Bundy’s People’s Rights meetings in Emmett, just like Wayne Hoffman of the Idaho Freedom Foundation had weeks prior.
Parker’s support of Bundy’s anti-law enforcement ideology, and pointing a semi-automatic rifle towards law enforcement officers should not warrant a donation and endorsement from the chairman of the Idaho Republican Party which supposedly supports law and order.
Will the Idaho Republican Party disavow the Real Idaho III% and its leader?
While we’d all hoped there would be meaningful follow-through on this slap down of Bundy, it’s likely this did not happen without support from Idaho Freedom Foundation board members and their close allies who serve on the IDGOP executive committee. These are the same people who embraced Bundy’s antics when it served their “Disobey Idaho” agenda.
So for now, we’ll all see this for what it really is, coalescing far-right support behind a single gubernatorial candidate.
Additional Republican Supporters of Ammon Bundy
Jennifer Ellis is a rancher from Blackfoot, Idaho. She has worked for over 20 years with agriculture and community policy. She and her husband ranch and farm in Bingham and Caribou Counties.