Biting the hand that feeds? Head of anti-govt standoff in Oregon received $530K federal loan

Ammon Bundy departs after addressing the media at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, January 4, 2016. © Jim Urquhart
Militia chief Ammon Bundy and his family are known for fighting against the federal government, specifically the Bureau of Land Management. But the spokesman for anti-government activists is also the recipient of a federal small-business loan.

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Valet Fleet Services, LLC is a Phoenix-based company owned by Bundy that specializes in semi-truck repairs and maintenance. According to the liberal magazine Mother Jones, Bundy's business borrowed $530,000 through a Small Business Administration loan guarantee program, “on April 15, 2010 – Tax Day, as it happens.”

It’s unclear what the loan was used for and whether or not it was returned or repaid.

Almost six years since taking the government loan, Bundy is arguing that, “the federal government has adversely stolen the lands and resources from the people, destroyed thousands of jobs, and the economy of an entire county,” as he said in a public Facebook post.

Bundy is currently in the news because of his standoff against the Bureau of Land Management over the prison sentence for two Oregonian ranchers that has been criticized as too harsh. The aforementioned ranchers, Dwight and Steve Hammond, have made efforts to distance themselves from the Bundys’ and the occupying militia. The Hammonds turned themselves in to authorities on Monday in order to serve their remaining prison sentences.

Dwight, 73, and his son Steve Hammond, 46, were convicted in 2012 of setting federal land on fire in an attempt to control an invasive species. The first fire was in 2001 and burned 139 acres of public land, according to NPR. In 2006, Steve Hammond was convicted of burning an additional acre. Dwight was originally sentenced to three months in jail and Steve received a sentenced of one year and a day.

However, the federal government appealed the original sentences and the Hammonds’ were sentenced to five years in prison. Dwight Hammond called the sentence “a little overreach for having burned 127 acres.”

In response, Bundy and dozens of armed individuals took over a federal building to protest the decision.

W. Alan Schroder, the Hammonds’ family attorney, wrote in a letter to Sheriff David Ward that “neither Ammon Bundy nor anyone within his group/organization speaks for the Hammond Family.” In addition, Dwight Hammond’s wife Susan said of the militia’s occupation of the federal reservation, “I don’t really know the purpose of the guys who are out there.”