Wednesday May 14, 2014
Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers’ visit to the Cliven Bundy ranch in Nevada last month wasn’t his first foray into the movement against federal government overreach.
Not by any means.
It’s a big issue for him (look here and here). His oath, as sheriff, to uphold the U.S. and Indiana constitutions, he says, obliges him to serve as a bulwark against undue federal government involvement. He sees himself — and county sheriffs across the country, in general — as the line in the sand between good governance and abusive federal meddling.
His focus on the issue led in part to his controversial trip to Nevada. And, in writing about that issue, I came across yet another indicator of his passion for the topic — his support for a resolution drafted by the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association that aims to keep a check on federal power.
More on Rogers’ Nevada trip:
The Jan. 24, 2014, document (scroll to the bottom of the page or look here) doesn’t seem to break new ground in the movement. Signatories resolve not to tolerate things like infringements on gun rights and searches without probable cause. The document — meant as a response to “the current abuses raining down from the Federal government” — states that conduct “contrary” to the U.S. Constitution and other founding documents “will be dealt with as criminal activity.”
But it underscores Rogers’ commitment to the issue. He’s one of 426 signatories across the country as of May 14.
What comes of the document, crafted at a CSPOA conference in Las Vegas last January that Rogers attended, remains to be seen. In a March 17 CSPOA post on the matter, the organization outlines a three-phase “action plan” to further the cause. Part of the effort involves a public gathering in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 17, Constitution Day, and a push to get all 535 U.S. congressmen to sign the document.
“Those who will not sign the resolution will be publicly invited to peacefully resign,” the action plan states.
’VOTERS DESERVE A CHOICE’
Elkhart County Democratic Party Chairwoman Shari Mellin said Wednesday that Rogers’ trip to Bundy’s Nevada ranch spurred the party to ramp up efforts to find a Democrat willing to run against him in the November general election. Other Democratic leaders here expressed distaste over the trip in an article in Wednesday’s Elkhart Truth, saying Rogers, a Republican seeking his second term, should keep his focus on public safety concerns in Elkhart County.
The Democratic Party, overshadowed locally by the much more powerful Republican Party, is always on the lookout for candidates to run for office here. But the Nevada trip made party leaders realize “we really need to find someone to run against him,” said Mellin.
I had tried to get hold of her for the article Wednesday, but didn’t talk with her until after the article ran.
That Rogers would go to the Bundy ranch, where he mixed with other similarly minded activists protesting federal moves against Bundy, shows “that he’s very far right wing, stands up for a person like that who’s a lawbreaker,” Mellin said. Rogers said his main intent in going was to get the local Nevada sheriff to act as mediator in Bundy’s dispute with the feds.
“I think it would be difficult to unseat him, but on the other hand, the voters deserve a choice and we should give them a choice if we can,” said Mellin.
The feds say Bundy owes them up to $1 million in back fees for grazing his cattle on federal land and sought to remove the animals from the property, precipitating a tense showdown with the federal protesters. Bundy claims he has a right to use the land.
NEVADA OFFICIALS WORKED ’DILIGENTLY’
I called the office of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Douglas Gillespie to get reaction to Rogers’ call that Gillespie serve as mediator between Bundy and the feds. Gillespie serves the area where the Bundy ranch is located.
The department sent me an April 12 press release (look here), which outlines some of Gillespie’s efforts to deal with the situation.
“Following a week of behind-the-scenes discussions with federal officials, ... Gillespie mediated an agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to end further seizure of the Bundy family cattle,” the press release reads.
It goes on to say Gillespie worked ”diligently to de-escalate the situation.”
“I want to stress to all of you that as the sheriff of Clark County I cannot interfere with the federal government when it is operating on federal land,” Gillespie said in the press release. “And because this is BLM property, it is in their jurisdiction. But when a group of protesters threaten civil unrest or violence in this county — it is my job to step in and ensure the safety of citizens.”
CSPOA Resolution, Jan 2014