In their own words: Wives of Cliven Bundy, LaVoy Finicum speak out at Utah town gathering

VEYO, Utah, Oct. 10, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — More than 200 people gathered recently in the tiny town of Veyo, north of St. George, in a stoic show of support for the extended families of Cliven Bundy and Robert “LaVoy” Finicum.

This year, both men and their kin paid a terrible price for mounting what they fervently believed were Constitutionally justified, right-to-bear-arms responses to bullying and overreach by the U.S. government in its management of public lands.

While hundreds of Bundy and Finicum family supporters were served a Dutch oven dinner of beef, chicken and bacon-infused potatoes in Veyo’s sun-splashed city park, Cliven Bundy, age 70, dined on commissary food in a tiny jail cell in Pahrump, Nevada, 150 miles to the west. That is where he awaits trial on federal conspiracy charges in the armed standoff against the Bureau of Land Management outside his Bunkerville, Nevada, ranch in 2014. His sons, Mel and Dave Bundy, are in the same lockup facing similar charges.

The occupation in Oregon

Two other Bundy sons, Ammon and Ryan, are also charged in the BLM-Bundy Ranch debacle, but are currently being tried for their alleged roles in the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside Burns, Oregon, in January of this year.

That occupation ended shortly after the group’s flamboyant ad hoc spokesman, Arizona Strip rancher LaVoy Finicum, 54, was shot dead by Oregon State Police at a clandestine road block on U.S. Route 395, roughly 40 miles north of the refuge.

Finicum ambush site
A handmade cross marks the location on Highway 395 north of Burns, Oregon where Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupier Robert LaVoy Finicum was shot and killed in a confrontaion with Oregon State Police troopers, Jan. 26, 2016. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

A subsequent investigation into Finicum’s death — recorded by a camera on an FBI helicopter and on a cellphone carried by one of the alleged occupiers, Kanab, Utah resident Shawna Cox — determined the shooting was justified. Finicum, after all, had taunted police during the initial traffic stop, defying orders to step out of the vehicle and telling officers to “Go ahead and put one through the head.”

After speeding away, Finicum swerved into a snowbank to avoid a police roadblock, his vehicle already taking fire. Jumping from his truck with his hands raised, he repeatedly told police, “Go ahead and shoot me!”

Crime scene tape marks the site where Arizona Strip rancher Robert LaVoy Finicum was shot and killed on Highway 395 north of Burns, Ore. by Oregon State Police troopers, Jan. 26, 2016. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict
Crime scene tape marks the site where Arizona Strip rancher Robert LaVoy Finicum was shot and killed on Highway 395 north of Burns, Ore. by Oregon State Police troopers, Jan. 26, 2016. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

Tragically, two Oregon State Police troopers obliged, shooting Finicum in the back three times. According to the official investigation, conducted by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, the OSP officers opened fire as the blustery rancher, who vowed to reporters he would never spend a day in jail, reached for a loaded 9mm Ruger, later said to be found in his left coat pocket.

“We know without a doubt that the Oregon State Police troopers who shot Mr. Finicum did so as they moved to protect themselves and their fellow officers from imminent harm,” said Harney County District Attorney Tim Colahan.

“Mr. Finicum repeatedly and knowingly made choices that put him, Robert LaVoy Finicum, in this situation. It was not the outcome any of us wanted, but one he, alone, is responsible for.”

Another viewpoint

The finding that Finicum was “alone” in creating the circumstances leading to his death has been called into question by a revelation in open court that Ammon and Ryan Bundy, along with Finicum, Shawna Cox and two others, had caravanned to the ambush site with an armed government informant behind the wheel of one of the vehicles.

Robert "LaVoy" Finicum in the moments prior to his shooting death by Oregon State Police officers, Jan. 26, 2016. The shooting was later ruled justifiable. Photo: YouTube
Robert “LaVoy” Finicum in the moments prior to his fatal shooting by Oregon State Police troopers, Jan. 26, 2016. The shooting was later ruled justified. Photo: FBI/Shawna Cox

That informant, identified on the record as Mark McConnell — a man previously believed to be part of an Arizona militia movement — supplied authorities with a steady stream of information about the occupiers’ movements, including a security assessment and the timetable for the group’s fateful trip to the town of John Day, where they had been invited to speak at an open meeting with Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer.

Finicum
Crime scene tape marks the site on Highway 395, north of Burns, Ore., where Arizona Strip rancher Robert LaVoy Finicum was shot and killed by two Oregon State Police troopers, Jan. 26, 2016. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

News of the informant’s role in leading occupiers to the police ambush site didn’t go down easy with those in attendance at the Bundy family benefit.

“We realized that night, when he (McConnell) was allowed to go free after LaVoy was killed, that he was an informant,” Carol Bundy, Cliven Bundy’s wife, told Gephardt Daily. “We further realized it when he took to social media that night and lied about what happened. He talked about things he was in no position to see,” she said.

“People got all excited,” she said. “They said, ‘Carol, you just can’t trust anybody anymore,’ and I said, my story stays the same. I don’t really care if the FBI paid informants or not. We have nothing to hide. I have nothing to hide. We’ve done nothing wrong. We didn’t hurt anybody. If anybody was hurt, it was done by their hand, the federal government’s hand.

Cliven Bundy
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy attending the funeral of slain Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum in Kanab, Utah, Feb. 5, 2016. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

“Cliven Bundy’s never hurt anybody,” Bundy said. “He hurts. His heart hurts to know that his sons and a lot of other young men that are in there are there because they stood with him, and they’re not home with their babies and their families and their wives. And he carries that burden. It’s very hard.”

Living with loss

Jeanette Finicum, LaVoy’s widow, knows about burden.

In the eight months since her husband’s death, she’s been forced to assume management of the couple’s ranch in Cane Beds, Arizona. It’s a tough job, in an often hostile and unforgiving landscape, its harshness matched only by its high-desert beauty.

Jeanette Finicum at Bundy Fundraiser held on September 24, 2016 in Veyo, Utah. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Richard Trelles
Jeanette Finicum at Bundy Fundraiser held on September 24, 2016 in Veyo, Utah. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Richard Trelles

“Do I talk to him? Sometimes,” Finicum told Gephardt Daily. “Sometimes it’s, ‘I miss you and I love you and I can’t wait to be with you again,’ and other times it’s like, ‘What the heck did you think you were doing?’

“But I know he’s proud. I know he’s proud the American people are waking up and taking a stand.

“And yes, my husband’s life was worth it. Was worth freedom. And the liberties we are losing in this country. It was worth it. I would hate to think it was not worth it, because his life would have been for nothing.”

Finicum paused, her eyes narrowing.

“They didn’t have to do what they did,” she said. “But they planned it. They had orchestrated it. They knew somebody was going to die that day. I don’t know how it will work out, but I couldn’t sleep at night if I didn’t try to hold them accountable for the murder of my husband.” 

Civil action

If accountability for the Finicums ever comes, it may very well be through civil court.

Armed U.S. Wildlife and Forests Service agents patrol the perimeter of the now closed headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside Burns, Oregon. The facility was the site of a 41-day armed occupation starting Jan. 4, 2016. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict
Armed U.S. Wildlife and Forest Service agents patrol the perimeter of the now closed headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside Burns, Oregon. The facility was the site of a 41-day armed occupation starting Jan. 4, 2016. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

In late August, family members hired Pasadena attorney Brian Claypool to represent them in a wrongful death lawsuit against the FBI and Oregon State Police.

The noted Los Angeles attorney and TV legal analyst is also representing Ryan Bundy in a federal civil rights suit stemming from wounds he suffered while riding in the back of Finicum’s vehicle.

“Finicum, along with Ryan Bundy and other ranchers, had been peacefully protesting on a Federal Wildlife Refuge,” Claypool said in a written statement. “Law enforcement, motivated by political reasons, escalated the otherwise peaceful demonstration by pursuing Finicum despite his repeated instruction to them that he was on his way to John Day, Oregon, to meet with local law enforcement and others in an attempt to resolve the protest.

Carol Bundy (left) and Jeanette Finicum greet well-wishers during a Sept. 24, 2016 weekend gathering in Veyo, Utah’s town park. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

“There is now physical evidence (shell casings) that proves that two FBI agents lied during the law enforcement investigation by stating that they did not fire the first shots at Finicum’s vehicle,” Claypool said.

“The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the two agents for perjury.”

While Finicum’s wrongful death lawsuit could take months, if not years, to shake out, the criminal proceedings against members of the Bundy family are a more immediate concern.

On Sept. 7, 2016, Ammon and Ryan, and five other alleged occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, went on trial on federal conspiracy charges in Portland, Ore. They have been charged with “conspiring to prevent federal employees from carrying out their duties through intimidation, threats or force.”

Ammon and Ryan Bundy, on the eve of their trial on federal conspiracy charges for the armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon. Photo: Multnomah County Sheriff's Office
Ammon and Ryan Bundy, on the eve of their trial on federal conspiracy charges for the armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon. Photo: Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office

The charge carries a maximum six-year prison sentence.

Defendants have also been charged with carrying firearms in a federal facility during the 41-day occupation.

The weapons charge alone carries a maximum five-year sentence.

The next case Regardless of the outcome in Oregon, Ammon and Ryan Bundy face even more serious charges in connection with their alleged roles in the armed standoff against federal agents outside the Bundy family ranch in April 2014.

Bundy Ranch
The American flag flies outside the Cliven Bundy Ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada in June, 2016. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

When the trial in Oregon ends, they’ll join their father, Cliven, and brothers, Mel and David, in a second federal conspiracy trial set to begin in February 2017. Charges include conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, assault on a federal law enforcement officer, using and carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of justice, interference with commerce by extortion, and obstruction of justice. If convicted, the Bundys and other Bunkerville defendants could end up spending decades behind bars.

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Mel, Cliven, Dave, Ammon and Ryan Bundy await trial on federal conspiracy charges in connection with their armed standoff against agents from the BLM outside Bunkerville, Nevada April, 2014. Photo: Facebook/Bundy Ranch

While the prospect of five family members going to federal prison is deeply distressing to Bundy’s legion of supporters — including friends and neighbors from Nevada, Southern Utah and the Arizona strip — Carol Bundy stands bloodied, but unbowed. She, like Jeanette Finicum, has gone from living the life of a doting wife and grandmother to being the full-time manager of the family’s 160-acre cattle ranch outside Mesquite.

The sun sets over the Cliven Bundy Family Ranch outside Bunkerville, Nevada. June 2016. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict
The sun sets over the Cliven Bundy family ranch outside Bunkerville, Nevada. June 2016. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

She also carries the banner for thousands of supporters who lauded her husband’s decision to resist the heavily armed wildlife agents as they tried to confiscate the family’s cattle in a decades-long dispute over unpaid grazing fees.

Raising funds and spirits

Now, in these darkest of days, Carol says she relies on those friends and neighbors, not only to keep the ranch afloat, but to help her daughters-in-law make ends meet while their husband breadwinners await their fates behind bars.

Legal teams for defendants charged with conspiracy in the April 2014 Bunkerville, Nevada standoff visit the site of the final showdown with the armed federal agents. Photo: Gephardt Daily/ Patrick Benedict
Legal teams for defendants charged with conspiracy in the April 2014 Bunkerville, Nevada standoff visit the site of the final showdown with the armed federal agents. Photo: Gephardt Daily/ Patrick Benedict

Roughly 200 of those supporters, some of them donning pro-militia patches and other “patriot” emblems, trickled into the town park throughout the day. There, they ate their fill of outback Western cooking, chatting quietly in groups while being serenaded by a handful of cowboy crooners.

In between songs, and hearty second helpings of beef brisket and corn on the cob, the crowd took part in a cowboy auction, where handmade quilts and arts and crafts were sold to the highest bidders. Also on the auction block, red-white-and-blue life-sized crosses bearing the name LaVoy Finicum.

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Supporters of the families of Cliven Bundy and Robert “LaVoy” Finicum attend a Bundy family fundraiser in Veyo, Utah’s town park, Sept. 24, 2016. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

With the first streaks of a setting September sun beginning to fill the sky, many of those in attendance took time out from the Dutch oven desserts to pay their respects and offer words of support to Jeanette Finicum and Carol Bundy. As the two women met face-to-face in the flag-draped city park, a ripple of emotion ran through the crowd. Seeing the women together — without their larger-than-life-husbands — struck a somber chord. This was, after all, the type of cowboy gathering LaVoy Finicum and Cliven Bundy would have loved to have taken part in. Their absence was suddenly palpable.

As the women went their separate ways, Carol Bundy took a minute to gather her thoughts while surveying the size of the crowd.

Supporters of the families of Cliven Bundy and LaVoy Finicum attend a weekend fundraiser Sept. 24, 2016 in the town of Veyo, Utah, north of St. George. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict
Supporters of the families of Cliven Bundy and LaVoy Finicum attend a weekend fundraiser Sept. 24, 2016 in the town of Veyo, Utah, north of St. George. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

“You know, life goes on,” she said. “These people just can’t put their lives on hold because LaVoy Finicum gave his life for this fight. They can’t put their lives on hold because my husband and four sons and a whole lot of other patriots sit in prison. But they can come to something like this and give me a hug and love me and support me. They could give a little bit of money to help my daughters-in-law put food on the table or pay the light bill. And by doing that, many hands make for light work. So everybody gives a little bit and it becomes something great and wonderful.

“And you know, if my husband, because of his age, doesn’t make it out, I will deal with it when the day comes,” she said. “I’m not going to worry about it now. I’m not going to worry about it. Like I said, what should I do? Lay down and cry and just give up? Then they’ve won the battle. I won’t do that. I refuse to give in to them. I’m going to stay home. I’m going to keep the farm going. I’m gonna keep the little families going as much as I can.

“But there is a purpose for everything in this life. And would I tell my husband not to do what he did? No. Never. Never. Do I like where they are? No. Do I wish it were different? Yes. Will it be? Yes. No doubt in my mind.”

23 COMMENTS

    • So, did the Bundys write this article? I read an article in the St. George Spectrum about the same event in Veyo. They described the attendance as “dozens”, not hundreds and they had pictures to prove it. This is slanted reporting for sure. Plenty of factual errors as well. Too many to list.

      • We counted the attendance through the course of the day as the event lasted for several hours. The Spectrum reporter was there for a relatively short period of time.

  1. I wish these people would realize…they are not patriots. They are criminals who are taking away from what is owned by ALL of us, not just a few ranchers. If the land is no longer going to be under federal protection then it needs to go back to the Native American people. These ranchers are wrong.

  2. Cliven Must Be Such A Proud Father
    I do have some sorrow for the Bundy’s (other than those in jail). What I don’t understand is the Bundy’s always put the blame of their problems/actions on others. For my actions I have been taught to be prepared to take responsibility and to think of the consequences of what I do before I act.
    Cliven has not taught his children to think before they act. The true sadness is when I see all the children without fathers and a Grandfather. This was not caused by others, but from the actions of the Bundy’s and so called “Patriots”.
    Will the Bundy children follow the same example of those that are now in jail, which will bring the same fate, OR will the children be taught to obey the law and contribute to the community with actions that will bring happiness and joy to them and those around them?
    The Bundy’s need to take responsibility for their actions. They need to think of their influence on their children. With no remorse shown from the Bundy’s the future for them will only bring many years of family sadness and hatred toward others.

    • Joey, these are good men who are law abiding citizens and take responsibility for their actions. They teach their children to obey the law. They don’t hate anybody. However they chose to take a stand against a government that believes it is above the law, a government that believes it is free to abuse, bully and take whatever it wants without due process. These men were dealt with very harshly as a warning to anybody else who would dare stand up to federal abuse.

      Now I don’t know you or pretend to know why you feel the need to judge these men the way you do, but from where I stand you’ve made yourself look like the sniveling, pathetic, weakling who hides behind the bully and agrees with every cruelty because he would never have the courage to stand up to that bully’s face and say no.

      That is the crime these men are in jail for and why you hate them–because they did what you will always be too scared and frightened to do.

    • I am disappointed that americans will not stand up in the name law. What is law? Law is right and wrong even a dog knows the law. If his bone is taken it is wrong. The moment a public servent becomes an oligarchy and claims it can own land it is wrong. The second the public servants (Federal) has a Dunsford Bradford number meaning it is a Corporation it has broken the higest law on this land possible. This is nothing more than the 7-11 headquarters claiming it has the delegation in Constitutional power to transfer your land into its corporate ownership. This being the crown temple in england, next door to Queen Elizabeth’s palace that owns the IRS and Social Security Corporation that we Americans have been swindled out of. And to finish it off in March 2016 Termination of forest Service and Bureau of land management agency law enforcement agency and law enforcement functions,Sec.3 (b) not later than Sept. 30,2017 . thanks to these americans that stood up for all americans. Now what responsibility and duty did you do for your country when it was invaded from the inside?

      • For anyone reading the above comment, I will translate. The comment is how Sovereign Citizens talk. Ryan Bundy, Kenneth Mendenbach, and Shawna Cox who are now on trial in Oregon all talk like this in court and with motion after motion after nonsensical motion. My personal favorite is the motion by Ryan Bundy saying “I, ryan c, man, am an idiot of the ‘Legal Society’; and; am an idiot (layman, outsider) of the ‘Bar Association’; and; i am incompetent; and; am not required by any law to be competent,” I am not kidding. It was entered into court documents.

  3. You are entitled to your opinion but I wouldn’t even want a name like that posted as it relates to one of the most obscene ?entertainers? in the history of this nation. Further, it has been proven that the alleged 9mm Finicum was supposed to have was more than likely a plant since it had been reported stolen years before. It has also been proven that he bailed out of his truck after other occupants were hit by gunfire to draw attention away from his truck and did have his hands in the air until he was shot in the back the first time. Apparently you are willing to swallow the kool aide doled out by the liberal media that was spewed out by the FBI agents and the OHP on the scene. Suicide by cop? NO! Murder YES!

  4. Great article and glad to see the God infused strength in these women! I pray for each of them and their families and all involved as part of my daily routine. I absolutely believe that the Lords hand is all over this and His will be done. The attempted “media narrative” and murder is now being displayed for all the world to see the truth and injustice that has gone on far too long. One quick note: Don’t you just know that every single police officer and FBI involved in the ambush of the others (in LaVoy’s truck) were awestruck and amazed that they survived all the other onslaught of bullets. BUT GOD!
    ~~~~
    “You meant evil against me; BUT GOD meant it for good, in order to . . . save many people alive”
    Genesis 50:20

    • Your information is incorrect. There was no “onslaught of bullets”. The Deschutes County (a separate police force) did the investigation. Only eight bullets were fired, three hit Mr. Finicum. The rest of what were claimed to be bullets by the other occupants were non-lethal flash-bang projectiles and smoke devices designed to confuse the occupants of the vehicle in case they decided to fire upon the officers. The occupants would then be more likely to surrender. The procedure was standard.

  5. Why did LaVoy Finicum think that he did not have to stop at the road block? He kept saying he was going to Grant County to see the Sheriff. If the state police have a road block you stop. LaVoy and the rest of the occupiers are not above the law.

    • It was a deadman blockade around a blind corner. It was designed to create just the right exigency to justify lethal force. Spike strips would have been far more effective and less dangerous for all involved, but would not have conveyed the right message to anybody else thinking they might be brave enough to stand up to federal abuse. The message to sit down and shut up had to be underlined in blood. I believe 100% that somebody was going to die that day no matter what. LaVoy Finicum knew it and volunteered himself, unafraid and defiant to their faces.

  6. Many people here and other media point out that they are just criminals, they broke the law. That is and will be determined in court. What a vast majority constantly overlook is punishment is being and has been dished out to some, not for others. Banks get a fine that amounts to a tiny fraction of their profits for breaking laws, no one goes to prison. Leaders have taken unlawful actions and started wars over lies, hundreds of thousand of innocent people die because of it, yet no one holds them accountable. Even presidential candidates thumb their noses at us as they make back door illegal deals that result in death and destruction overseas, and it is ignored. Many crimes against humanity as a whole go on and on, it just depends on who you are and how much money you have as to whether justice is served or not. All I am saying is that breaking the law and paying for it is served out to a select few, while for others it is not. If breaking “the law” is not for everyone, it isn’t respected when it is only for some. Get the little guy, ignore the big guy. More and more law and justice break down when it is not equal to all. It is no wonder that so many other countries around the world now look at the American people and ask what is wrong with those Americans. Can’t they see what is happening?

  7. WTP haven’t forgotten laVoy….some will say that it was an ambush…some will say that it was
    a righteous shoot…..some will say that it was out and out murder…..WTP haven’t forgotten AND
    WTP will NOT forget……..

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