An Oregon judge floated a new way Monday for the local government to put the squeeze on its unwanted guests: send the armed militiamen the bill.
Harney County judge Steve Grasty suggested the militiamen pay for their standoff with the federal government, which he estimated cost the county between $60,000 and $75,000 every day during the first week of the occupation, the Guardian reported.
Grasty’s proposal, made Monday night at a Burns, Oregon community meeting, was met with loud applause from local residents.
“We’re going to send Mr. Bundy the bill,” he said.
Grasty has been an outspoken critic of the militiamen. He told the Guardian over the weekend that he wants the occupiers out, and that he won’t “go and advocate for anything that gives Bundy and his armed thugs a win.”
Laura Cleland, a county spokesperson, said because Harney County is “not a wealthy county” and runs on a “very strict budget,” Bundy and his allies have put a serious strain on its resources. She pointed to school closures caused by the occupation, overtime pay for law enforcement, and setting up a special command center as among the “huge costs” to the county.
It’s not clear whether Grasty has the legal authority to formally bill the militia, but Cleland said he’s dedicated to finding a way to return the money to the county.
The self-styled militiamen destroyed a fence at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge on Monday, claiming the federal property obstructed grazing lands. The Fish and Wildlife Service said the action could trigger additional legal action.