From left to right: Sugar Pine Mine co-owner Rick Barclay; some old fart who wandered in; Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes, Sugar Pine Mine co-owner George Backes. BLM, kindly note the 100 Heads Life Insurance Company hat on the head of Mr. Barclay, their newest customer.
I am exhausted, sitting in Winnemucca NV in a cell phone black hole with five more hours to go tomorrow before we get to SLC. There is some kind of confluence of conventions in this casino town and we got the last room at the inn -- a stinking hole of a smoker's room. Today I met with the co-owners of the Sugar Pine Mine which is under attack by the cabin burners of the BLM and many of the Oath Keepers security detail who are there to secure the site from attack by the federal government. I will have my own report tomorrow, hopefully, but in the meantime, please check out this letter from the local Oath Keeper's leader to Congressman DeFazio:
May 28, 2015
The Honorable Peter DeFazio, House Representative
U.S. House of Representatives
2134 Rayburn Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
RE: The Sugar Pine Mine and the Bureau of Land Management
Dear Congressman DeFazio:
As you may be aware, the Oath Keepers of Josephine County, Oregon were contacted in April of this year regarding recent confrontations instigated by the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) against the owners of the Sugar Pine Mine in Josephine County located in your congressional district.
Upon receiving their inquiry, I met with the property owners and have been presented with evidence of alarming and unwarranted actions that have been taken by representatives of the BLM without substantiated legal justification and in clear violation of the owners’ constitutional rights under the law.
The BLM threatened to assume ownership (unlawful search and seizure) of the property on April 25 without due process as guaranteed by our U.S. Constitution in addition to threats of destruction of
equipment and related assets. Over the past several weeks, the Oath Keepers have been securing the
property from unlawful invasion and the threatened destruction of their equipment until a resolution is achieved. The landowners are currently awaiting the provision of requested legal documents, their review by legal representation, as well as an appropriate meeting and/or hearing to vet the issues associated with their property ownership and mining rights which date back to the mid-1800s.
Throughout this process, BLM representatives have been largely unresponsive and hostile, using intimidation, harassment and threats to coerce your constituents into surrendering their property apart
from lawful justification. Such bullying tactics by government staff are an affront to the rights that every citizen of this country has been guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution – the founding document that many federal, state and county employees and officeholders haven taken an oath to uphold.
Although the Sugar Pine miners were only recently granted a temporary stay with assurances that the
BLM will defer action until legal issues are resolved, this action is insufficient to allay concerns
associated with the abuse of power and multiple, serious allegations of BLM officials’ overreach.
Furthermore, while the stay delays BLM action, it does nothing to facilitate the ability of the miners to work their claim.
Additionally, as a result of the Sugar Pine Mine situation, numerous landowners and mine owners have come forward with serious allegations of harassment and the unlawful confiscation and willful destruction of property by the BLM here in Oregon as well as in other states. We have been provided with compelling evidence that various staff members within the BLM have represented the Bureau in an unlawful, threatening, self-serving and destructive manner.
Therefore, regardless of the ultimate outcome of the Sugar Pine mine case, I respectfully request your active engagement in pursuing an internal investigation to expose and correct any and all symptoms of a tyrannical government culture. These include allegations of harassment, coercion, the unlawful confiscation of property, the destruction of property, and violations of the American Antiquities Act by various staff members and officials within the BLM on a broad scale.
These allegations should be investigated internally and results presented publicly. Furthermore, in the event that these allegations are substantiated, such unprofessional conduct should be expected to result in the discipline, suspension and/or termination of the staff identified.
We have compiled a list of various BLM staff who have been identified as among those who have violated standards of conduct as well as a variety of federal statutes, rules, regulations and/or protocol.
We have also received credible testimonies from other mine owners whose properties have been unlawfully confiscated and/or destroyed by the BLM. Documentation to support these allegations is available upon request.
On behalf of the Oath Keepers of Josephine County, I look forward to hearing from you.
JOSEPH RICE, Coordinator
Oath Keepers of Josephine County
cc: Ms. Sally Jewell, Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior
Mr. Neil Kornze, Director, Bureau of Land Management
The Honorable Jeff Merkley, U.S. Senator
The Honorable Ron Wyden, U.S. Senator
Members of the House Natural Resources CommitteeMembers of the Senate Natural Resources Committee