PHOENIX (CBS Las Vegas/AP) — A group of Republican Arizona lawmakers are upset with a brewing showdown in Nevada between the federal government and a rancher who claims rights to graze his cattle in a remote area about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
Rep. Bob Thorpe of Flagstaff said Thursday he is among about three dozen state legislators sending a letter to federal and Nevada officials about the standoff between rancher Cliven Bundy and Bureau of Land Management officials.
Federal officials say Bundy has racked up more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees over the years while disregarding several court orders to remove his animals.
Thorpe says lawmakers aren’t arguing over whether Bundy has broken laws or violated grazing agreements. They’re more concerned with what they perceive as government heavy-handedness and how officials are restricting protesters to “free speech zones” near the closed off federal land.
Tea Party Republican state Rep. Kelly Townsend tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal she was shocked after seeing the video where federal police used a stun gun on one of Bundy’s sons.
“Watching that video last night created a visceral reaction in me,” Townsend told the Review-Journal. “It sounds dramatic, but it reminded me of Tiananmen Square. I don’t recognize my country at this point.”
Ammon Bundy, told the Spectrum of St. George, Utah, that he was hit with stun charges twice.
He acknowledged that he climbed on a dump truck, suspecting that it contained cattle that had been killed during the roundup.
Margaret Houston, Cliven Bundy’s 57-year-old sister, was also pushed down to the ground in the video.
Thorpe said he may join a handful of Arizona lawmakers on a trip to the site Monday morning.
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