“I’m sure it is him.”
February 14, 2017
Federal trials related to the 2014 showdown between armed supporters of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and Bureau of Land Management officers could potentially become derailed as one of the lead investigators has been implicated in an ethics violation.
Dan Love, the BLM special agent overseeing Utah and Nevada between 2012 and 2015, was in charge of operations during the Bundy standoff and is expected to be a key witness in the case.
But a Jan. 30 report by the Department of Interior’s Office of the Inspector General appears to implicate Love with ethical misconduct that occurred during the 2015 Burning Man event.
The report does not specifically mention the agent’s name, but lawyers representing Bundy Ranch defendants say it offers sufficient details to identify the person in question as Love.
“I’m sure it is him,” Las Vegas attorney Bret Whipple said Thursday. “If it is Dan Love, first of all we will file a motion to dismiss. … He is the primary figure in the government’s case. He put together the plan. He negotiated with [the Bundys].”
According to the report by federal agents, the agent wrongly used his influence to obtain benefits for himself and his family members at Burning Man, abused federal-law enforcement resources and asked fellow staff to keep quiet about his behavior. He was also accused of taking advantage of BLM hiring practices in order to get his friend a job.
Washington D.C. BLM officials would not confirm if Love is the unnamed agent.
“The Bureau of Land Management takes allegations of misconduct seriously,” BLM spokesman Michael Richardson said in a statement. “These types of allegations do not align with our mission or the professionalism and dedication of our 10,000 employees doing essential work for America’s public lands each and every day.”
If the agent turns out to be Love, then it could seriously hamper the government’s case against Bundy, said Sara Gordon, associate professor of law at the Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
“It’s in an ethics report. I think everything is up for grabs — misuse of the vehicles, using intimidation,” Gordon said . “This stuff, it suggests that he’s willing to cheat and lie for his job.”
Gordon noted that it wouldn’t be enough to “kill the case,” but said BLM’s credibility is damaged if Love is the key witness.
There are also multiple reports that Love escalated conflict during the Bundy Ranch standoff, telling a right-leaning radio host that the protesters didn’t have enough people to hold off law enforcement.
“You better hope that 10,000 show up,” Love told host Peter Santilli.
The first of the three trials is expected to take up to 10 weeks, with the second trial beginning in May.
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