Rep. Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon, said that the Obama administration’s “abject failure” to enforce the law has led to the current standoff at a wildlife refuge in his state.
DeFazio blamed the administration for the standoff at Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in recent comments to a local Portland radio station, BuzzFeed first reported.
“I think one of the most interesting analysis I’d seen was done by the Southern Poverty Law Center,” DeFazio said. “And they said the abject failure of the Obama administration to enforce the law against Cliven Bundy and backing down under threats of violence, prosecuting no one, not collecting the fees, not removing his illegal grazing, has greatly emboldened and caused a proliferation of militia movements and I would say this pretty much a direct result of that.”
“So this time, they need to enforce the law,” DeFazio said.
An armed group led by Ammon Bundy has occupied the wildlife refuge in Oregon since Jan. 2 in protest of federal land policies. The leader of the occupation is the son of rancher Cliven Bundy, who led a standoff with federal officials in Nevada over grazing rights in 2014.
Asked whether Ammon Bundy and his men are asking for armed conflict with federal forces, DeFazio said that law enforcement shouldn’t have to engage in a firefight with the occupiers but that they should be prosecuted once the standoff is resolved.
“Look, I’m not gonna get into tactics. Enforcing the law doesn’t mean that we run in there with Humvees and engage in a gun battle, but it does mean when this ends–hopefully peacefully–that these people will be prosecuted because they have broken the law and they shouldn’t just walk away,” DeFazio stated. “As far as I know, Cliven Bundy is still engaged in grazing his cattle illegally and has not paid any fines and there’s been zero enforcement against him.”
DeFazio then compared the Obama administration’s empty promises to hold Cliven Bundy accountable to statements the president has made about punishing bad actors on Wall Street in the wake of the financial crisis.
“They haven’t done anything,” DeFazio said. “It’s just like Obama and Wall Street. They don’t seem to want to take on any law breakers whether they’re white collar criminals on Wall Street or radical extremists in the West.”