Presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) apparently just can’t quit Nevada rancher and anti-government activist Cliven Bundy.
The senator was among the big names in the GOP who distanced themselves from Bundy last year after the rancher openly wondered whether black people had been “better off slaves” than on government assistance. At the time, Paul called the comments “offensive” and said “I wholeheartedly disagree with him.”
But Politico reported on Tuesday that Bundy said he met privately with Paul to talk states’ rights on Monday after an event in Nevada.
Bundy, whose militia-backed standoff with the federal government over grazing fees made headlines last year, told Politico he “educated” Paul on his land philosophy at the event, held at Eureka Casino in Mesquite, Nevada.
“I don’t think he really understands how land rights really work in the western United States,” the rancher told Politico. “I was happy to be able to sort of teach him.”
He also said that during their 45-minute meeting Paul brought up work by the American Lands Council, which litigates federal lands back into states’ control, an approach Bundy opposes: “We are already a sovereign state. … It’s already state land.”
Before their meeting, Paul reportedly told attendees at the campaign event that “almost all” land use issues, including medical marijuana or endangered species, should be handled by states.
Bundy became a tea party darling after he refused to pay the federal government $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees because he does not recognize federal authority over the land. The dispute reached a flashpoint when a group of armed militiamen confronted Bureau of Land Management officials attempting to round up Bundy’s cattle. The federal government eventually backed down.
Before Bundy’s comments on “the Negro,” Paul had offered some support for hfor the rancher, criticizing what he characterized as a federal government overreach.
This post has been updated.