BUNKEVILLE, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- The Nevada rancher who has made headlines because of his fight with the federal government is making news again. This time, it is for a different reason.
In recent comments, Cliven Bundy questions whether African-americans were better off under slavery. Bundy stood by his words in interviews on Thursday, although he clarified in a news conference that he did not say people should be slaves.
Many of Nevada's Democrat and Republican lawmakers were quick to condemn the remarks, but some say this latest controversy hides what they call the real issues.
"When it started to explode or implode, whatever plode you want to call it, you're sitting there going, 'this is an awful thing for Nevada,'" said Representative Mark Amodei.
"Whatever Mr. Bundy's unfortunate comments were, Mr Bundy is really not the issue per se," said Ira Hansen. "It was the overreaction by the Bureau of Land Management."
That brings us to another aspect of the issues surrounding Cliven Bundy and his cattle. Some Nevada lawmakers are now formally questioning the actions of the BLM in this case.
They are calling the BLM's response potentially "excessive" to what they see as a grazing problem. The six powerful signatures on a new letter are backing up demands for a public inquiry into the BLM's handling of this case. They are not the only ones with questions.
The letter asks Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to conduct a public inquiry. The lawmakers want to know:
- Who ordered the armed incursion?
- At what level was that decision made?
- Who knew about the response?
- What was the root cause behind the response, as lawmakers believe the roundup costs more than the sale of the cattle?
- Why a lien was not placed instead of an armed response?
- Why would BLM euthanize hundreds of turtles and cite this as a reason for the response?
"I definitely think we need to get to the root of this, and to have some very strong explanation given as to why something like this would ever be necessary in Nevada.," said Hansen.
Hansen said the Bundy issue was a big topic in Tonopah where he was attending a Public Lands Legislative Committee meeting on Thursday. "You had more than 200 fully-armed agents descending on a rancher in central Nevada, because of a grazing-fee issue? That's just nuts. I never heard of anything like that in Nevada."
The topic is also being discussed and questions are being raised by Nevada's Congressional delegation. Congressman Amodei said he has already had some discussion with the leadership at BLM.
"I want to sit down and go through an after-action evaluation with you, becuase there's a lot of things here that frankly were done that are kind of surprising," said Amodei.
Congressman Stephen Horsford met with BLM officials in his district of southern Nevada on Thursday. Meanwhile, the BLM's handling of the Bundy issue is set to be discussed by the Public Lands Legislative Committee in June.
Hansen said BLM officials will be there.