Far-Right Activist Says His Campaigning for Governor Should Count Toward Community Service

Far-right activist Ammon Bundy claims that the hours he has spent in his campaign to become Idaho's next governor should count for his court-ordered community service, the Associated Press reported. Bundy was ordered to pay more than $1,000 in fines and complete 40 hours of public service in a commuted sentence after being convicted in July of misdemeanor trespassing and resisting or obstructing officers at the state Capitol.

Aaron Welling, Bundy's campaign treasurer, wrote in a letter to Ada County's 4th District Court late in November that the gubernatorial hopeful has "completed 1,621 hours of public service." The letter mentioned what appeared to be campaign trail activities, encouraging voter registration and helping people to "become more active in holding public officials accountable."

When the Idaho Press-Tribune asked Welling whether the activities he cited were from his campaign or community service, the treasurer responded that "It is what it is. If the courts don't like it, the courts don't like it."

Idaho's criminal code stipulates that sentencing after conviction "may include the rendering of labor and services to charities, governmental agencies, needy citizens and nonprofit organizations," the AP reported.

Bundy is part of a large group of Republican primary candidates seeking Idaho's gubernatorial office. Republican Governor Brad Little has not announced another campaign but is expected to seek re-election, though former President Donald Trump has given his endorsement to Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin, according to the AP.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Far-Right Activist Ammon Bundy
Anti-government activist Ammon Bundy says the hours he spent campaigning to be the next governor of Idaho should count toward his community service requirement following his conviction of obstructing police during his arrest for trespassing at the state Capitol. Bundy is wheeled from the Idaho Statehouse in Boise, Idaho on August 26, 2020, following his second arrest for trespassing. Keith Ridler/AP Photo

Idaho is among the most conservative U.S. states and has not had a Democratic governor since 1995.

Bundy attracted international attention when he led a group of armed activists in the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon to protest federal control of public lands.

The conviction stemmed from Bundy's arrest on August 25, 2020, when he refused to leave a Statehouse auditorium after officials ordered it to be cleared. Officers said Bundy also went limp and refused to stand and put his hands behind his back. Officers ultimately wheeled Bundy out of the Capitol building on a swivel chair.

The arrest came during a special session of the Idaho Legislature called for lawmakers to address issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bundy was among dozens of demonstrators—many of them members of his "People's Rights" organization—who attended the special session to protest because they were angry about coronavirus-related restrictions. During one protest, unmasked demonstrators joined by Bundy forced their way into a House gallery with limited seating, shattering a glass door.

Bundy's arrest came the next day in an auditorium used for lawmakers considering a measure on coronavirus-related liability. The meeting was halted and switched to another room after more than 100 protesters shouted down the lawmakers. Most attendees then left, but Bundy and others decided to stay even after officers told them the room was closed to the public.

In the 2016 Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation, Bundy and others were eventually arrested, ending the 41-day occupation. An Oregon jury later acquitted Bundy of all federal charges in that case.

In 2014, Bundy, several of his brothers and his father led an armed standoff in Nevada with Bureau of Land Management agents who tried to confiscate his father's cattle for grazing on public land without a permit. Ammon Bundy spent almost two years in federal custody before the case ended in a mistrial.

Ammon Bundy Conviction
Anti-government activist Ammon Bundy said he was encouraging voter registration and helping people to "become more active in holding public officials accountable," while campaigning for Idaho governor. Bundy, wearing a cowboy hat, yells through the closed Ada County Courthouse door at law enforcement officers inside on March 15 in Boise, Idaho. Rebecca Boone/AP Photo