Congressman Stewart comes under fire as voters demand accountability in the death of an Arizona rancher

ST. GEORGE – U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart came under fire during a town hall meeting Wednesday night as voters demanded accountability.

The meeting, held in the St. George City Council chambers, was the second of its kind this week where Stewart met with constituents to hear their concerns on various issues. The first one was the night before in Cedar City.

The tone in Cedar City was mild compared to that of the one in St. George where many in the audience were calling for answers in the death of Arizona rancher Robert LaVoy Finicum.

The incident at issue was part of a law enforcement action taken Jan. 26 against Finicum and several others who were part of an armed militant group occupying the Oregon Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The group seized the refuge three weeks earlier on Jan. 2.

In both meetings, Stewart was confronted by relatives of the Cliven Bundy family about their feelings and opinions concerning the recent arrests and treatment of Cliven Bundy’s sons. The FBI arrested Dave and Mel Bundy March 3 for their involvement in a 2014 standoff at their father’s ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada.

Mel Bundy’s mother-in-law, Aleta Ruth, said her grandchildren are experiencing anxiety because their father is gone. She also described how her son-in-law was shackled to a concrete wall for 48 hours.

“We don’t even treat criminals like that,” she said.

She repeatedly told Stewart that Dave and Mel Bundy are “good men” and “don’t deserve this.”

“Where is the justice,” Ruth said. In an emotional plea, she begged the congressman to do something.

Stewart tried addressing the group but was cut off several times by demands from the audience that he head up a congressional investigation into the FBI’s actions.

Stewart told the audience that as a rancher himself he is sympathetic toward these issues. He also assured the group he met with some members of the Oregon occupation and Bundy Ranch standoff, but said the law enforcement investigation of the FBI’s actions during those incidents needs to run its course.

As he did in Cedar City, Stewart again called attention to a new bill he and U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz will be introducing next week when the House returns to session. The bill, he said, will strip law enforcement responsibilities from any agency under the Department of Interior including the Bureau of Land Management.

Stewart introduced a similar bill in 2014 called the Regulatory Agency Demilitarization Act that would have stemmed the trend of federal regulatory agencies developing SWAT-like teams.

While the meeting was scheduled for an hour, Stewart ended up taking questions and listening to his constituents’ concerns well past 8 p.m. He also spent time afterward talking with many of the people who didn’t get a chance to previously ask any questions.

Stewart is up for re-election this year and is being challenged by Democratic hopeful Charlene Albarran.

The third town hall meeting with Stewart scheduled this week is Thursday at 7 p.m. in Ephraim at the Founders Hall at Snow College, 1550 College Avenue East.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • Not_So_Much March 10, 2016 at 6:55 am

    The Conservative Review gives Representative Stewart a D for 50 key votes over time. The real problem seems to be that everyone wants government to ‘do it’. It’s the federal government which under the US Constitution should be limited to powers given it by the states (not taken). To suggest at one point the federal government sends money back to the states for items like education shows a lack of understanding on his part. The money should STAY in the state and not pass though Washington DC. This country is not in a very good place and while a “not me” attitude is present, I doubt much will change. The time for more to get involved is now.

    • sagemoon March 10, 2016 at 10:48 am


      • anybody home March 10, 2016 at 4:26 pm

        How about this? Utah keeps ALL its money and pays ALL its bills, including welfare, ss, education, highways, and everything ele the government now pays for Utah with help from other states. I’d love to see Utah just secede and become its own country with all the debt and woes a country takes on. Utah is the whiniest state in the Union,

        • mesaman March 11, 2016 at 10:19 am

          And democrat socialists make the most whining noise of all. Anybody home?

          • .... March 11, 2016 at 12:02 pm

            and mesaman the socialist village idiot makes more whining noise than anybody else

  • observer March 10, 2016 at 8:49 am

    Make a demand for documents to the Utah State Bar, on Mr. Dan Norris, DA Malheur County. Find out why he “resigned”. Investigate that, with any possible connections to when FBI Bretzing was in Salt Lake. See if BLM Love comes up in any of the documents. If so, that would tie all three of these boys. Demand resignations.

    Also investigate “who” besides BLM Love was involved in the demand for the 1 million dollar VIP area for the burning man festival. Here, no one cares about the sage grouse or the turtle as the festival brings too much money to Nevada. BLM Love wanted Kardashian style accommodations and front row viewing of the nudity; crying that it was too hot on the “playa”.

    The HRT, whomever ordered the HRT from Washington DC and the FBI Portland will not walk from this. The 5 – removal from the elite team, 4 will be given immunity to out the one(s) who gun(s) those bullets came from, and yes they will attempt to go “internal” so that the public will not be privy. Demand all public documents; and ask for the internal ones with redaction. Find out who’s bullet hit Ryan Bundy; demand that answer.

    The more attempts at silencing the truth, the more they have to hide. A “protective order” was designed to “protect” a woman with real true fear for her life where she’s been factually beaten into submission, strangled, stabbed, etc. Nowadays the cowards (both men and women) have destroyed the true meaning of one, and have actually harmed the true abuse victim(s).

    For Judge Brown to have bought into that BS, also hurts the true meaning of “protective order”. She appears to be caving in. Maybe a change of venue is necessary.

    Treatment of inmates can be settled through the Ombudsman, who oversees the jail. Prison rights groups can be easily contacted, and can give the procedures to all family members on how to effectively file the Complaints. They also have the inmate rights handbooks, if one can’t find them online.

  • anybody home March 10, 2016 at 9:53 am

    Mel was shackled to a concrete wall for 48 hours – unlikely. These people make up Shinola all the time. Reasonable people know this fortunately, the judge and the people who did the investigation on Finicum’s death in Oregon are reasonable people. The wingnuts, of course, will continue to twist and shout because some of their babies got caught breaking the laws. Consequences and responsibility for actions is a hard lesson for a lot of people.

  • Bender March 10, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Not present at meeting: the other 99.99% percent of St George who think Finicum should have exited his vehicle at first stop instead of running and committing suicide by cop. Not a noble death. Not a smart man.

    • RealMcCoy March 10, 2016 at 5:34 pm

      It’s people like you that would also consider Rosa Parks a criminal.

      • .... March 11, 2016 at 12:04 pm

        And it’s people like you that considers Charles Manson as a role model

    • mesaman March 10, 2016 at 8:12 pm

      And yet this, less than .01 percent person can weigh judgment on the actions of a man standing for what he died for. Not a noble comment, not a smart man/woman/it.

      • .... March 11, 2016 at 12:07 pm

        And yet you and your less than. .01 mentality weights judgement on someone else’s actions. not a noble comment. .not smart at all

        • mesaman March 11, 2016 at 1:45 pm

          Have you ever made an intelligent comment in your entire life, mongo? No, of course not. It would require minimal intelligence and a brain that could process it.

      • Chris March 12, 2016 at 1:13 pm

        nothing noble about a lifetime government worker … defending a completely wacko, freeloading loser like Finicum.
        Ed. ellipsis.

  • Roy J March 11, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and the Tri-County Major Incident Team turned in 360 pages of documented reports, all of which are available for public viewing with redactions. The FBI is conducting a formal investigation of it’s own officers. The Finicum’s are pursuing what appears to be a criminal case, but I haven’t found those documents yet, so I couldn’t say towards whom or for what purpose. Seems to me there has been more than a little accountability, and since no commentator has yet mentioned the police reports, I assume they haven’t read them. Here they are:

    • Roy J March 11, 2016 at 12:42 pm

      Excuse me, that should read “The federal investigation, conducted by the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General, will determine whether a member of the hostage rescue team failed to disclose firing at Finicum as he left the truck and whether anyone participated in a cover up over those shots.”, not FBI. hem.

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