Tomorrow, leading land transfer advocate, ‘darling of the original Sagebrush Rebellion’ and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s top pick to become the permanent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director, Karen Budd-Falen, will make an appearance in Hamilton, Montana. This will be the latest stop in her efforts to promote the transfer of public lands in Western communities. Recently, she worked with Oregon’s Crook County Commission to pass a natural resource policy that asserts the local government’s control over thousands of acres of federal lands.
“Karen Budd-Falen has dedicated her career to advocating for seizing national public lands, suing the federal government, and defending extremists like Cliven Bundy. Now Ryan Zinke wants her to manage one of our nation’s largest portfolios of public lands,” said Chris Saeger, executive director of the Western Values Project. “What we’re likely to see in Hamilton on Saturday is a window into the radical anti-public lands vision Ms. Budd-Falen would bring to the BLM. Elected officials, both locally and nationally, should know that emboldening land transfer advocates like Karen Budd-Falen will put our outdoor heritage at risk.”
Ravalli County Commissioners rescinded an invitation for Budd-Falen to speak at a commission meeting after objections to her extreme views were raised by local residents. Montana State Representative Theresa Manzella instead organized a paid event at the local middle school, charging attendees a $10 fee to attend.
The fact remains that even by Trump administration standards, Budd-Falen is an extreme pick. Nominating her would indicate that, despite Secretary Zinke’s repeated denials, this administration could support an aggressive land transfer agenda.
Below are some examples of Budd-Falen’s extreme positions that should disqualify her from an appointment to any high-level government post. View her full Department of Influence profile here.
Karen Budd-Falen opposes the BLM and its employees
She has accused the federal government of waging “a full scale war” on private landowners. She has gone so far as to help rally protests against the BLM at its local offices. [Mike Stark, “Ranchers rally at BLM office,” Billings Gazette, 11/11/03].
Karen Budd-Falen rejects the legitimacy of the federal government to make land management decisions
She “pursues legal arguments, such as her claim that county authority supersedes federal authority over federal land, that collapse in court.” [Amanda Marcotte, “Karen Budd-Falen, the Bundy family’s lawyer, may be Trump’s pick to manage federal lands,” Salon, 07/18/17]
Karen Budd-Falen is the Bundy family’s lawyer
Karen Budd-Falen said that “‘the Cliven Bundy situation goes to show how American citizens react when a government has so expanded that it believe (sic) that the citizens are subservient to political power.’” She called the armed standoff between Bundy and the federal government “‘simply a case of the government putting a rancher out of business because the rancher has to prove a negative — the burden is on the rancher while all deference goes to the federal government and the government only has to make allegations to eliminate a family, a business, a community, a way of life.’” [Michael Bastasch, “Feds accused of ‘intimidation’ and ‘bullying’ ranchers” Daily Caller, 04/14/14]
Karen Budd-Falen subscribes to extreme conspiracy theories
Karen Budd-Falen said during a 2013 radio interview that the federal government and environmental groups are engaging in “rural cleansing.” She believes that “rural cleansing” is happening because “people are easier to control in large metropolitan areas.” [“Federal Bullying and Rural Cleansing,” YouTube, 12/16/13 (16:00 and 18:35)]
Karen Budd-Falen appeared on a conservative radio show in 2011 to discuss Agenda 21, a “conspiracy theory” based on U.N. policy. She claimed that “the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity and Agenda 21” is “actually a way to move people into more populated areas” where “it’s much easier to control them economically and socially.” When asked if Agenda 21 is “something we really need to be concerned about,” Budd-Falen replied, “I think it’s really hard for people to believe that this is happening, but I think you have to sort of separate out who’s in charge and who is not… I think that the general, run-of-the mill American citizen doesn’t understand that what they are helping to fund is really controlled by just a few individuals with a big plan.” Budd-Falen believes that Agenda 21 does not get more attention in the press because it is “so hard to believe.”