Cliven Bundy – the Nevada rancher scheduled to go to trial early next year for his 2014 armed standoff against the federal government – is suing a Democratic congressional candidate for defamation for linking the standoff to the deaths of two Law Vegas police officers.
In a complaint filed in state court in Clark County, Nevada, Bundy alleges that Ruben Kihuen engaged in “willful and malicious defamatory communications.” Kihuen is the Democratic nominee for the House in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District. In response to the lawsuit, Kihuen’s campaign denied that the campaign communications were defamatory.
Bundy’s lawsuit centers on a television ad (more on that in a moment) and a campaign mailer that tied Kihuen’s Republican opponent, Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-NV), to Bundy. The mailer alleged that Bundy’s 2014 standoff “led to the death of two Las Vegas police officers.”
The complaint doesn’t specifically identify the mailer in question. Bundy’s lawyer Bret Whipple told TPM in a phone interview, “I know there is at least one and potentially two mailers I am concerned about.” The mailer below was provided to TPM by the Kihuen campaign and matches the description included in the complaint.
The Kihuen campaign told TPM it never aired a TV ad alleging that the 2014 Bundy standoff led to the deaths of two Las Vegas police officers.
As for the TV ad referenced in the complaint, Whipple said, “I have not seen the TV ad myself.”
“I don’t watch TV normally and if I do I just flip it to the History channel,” Whipple said. “I was told by people, in fact one of my paralegals, that they observed it. “
The backstory on the police shootings:
In 2014, Jared and Amanda Miller – a husband and wife – killed two Las Vegas police officers. At the time, news outlets reported that the Millers shared “some apparent ideology that is along the lines of militia and white supremacists” and that they had both spent time at the Bundy Ranch standoff earlier 2014. After shooting the police in a restaurant, the pair moved to a Walmart where they shot another man. Then, Jared Miller was killed by police and Amanda Miller committed suicide, according to news reports from the time.
In his complaint, Bundy denies meeting with or speaking to the Millers:
In a statement, the Kihuen campaign called Bundy’s complaint “beyond absurd.”
“Cliven Bundy led an illegal armed standoff at Bunkerville, and when it was over two of his supporters assassinated two Las Vegas metro police officers,” campaign manager Dave Chase said. “It is beyond absurd for Cliven Bundy to pretend he’s worried about protecting his ‘good name’ while his son is talking to national media about leading yet another armed insurrection, this time at Gold Butte. This lawsuit – filed just days before an election – is clearly nothing more than a political stunt from Cliven Bundy on behalf of his close friend and ally Congressman Hardy.”
Read the complaint: