Bundy Protests

Ammon Bundy speaks during a protest in front of the Ada County Courthouse on April 3.

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BOISE — After he was sentenced to 40 hours of community service for trespassing at the Idaho Capitol in 2020, gubernatorial hopeful Ammon Bundy told a court last week that he’s already completed 1,621 hours of public service through what appear to be campaign activities.

Meanwhile, on Sept. 16, Bundy appealed the trespassing conviction as well as a subsequent court decision to deny an acquittal request. On Tuesday, an Ada County District Court judge dismissed the appeal.

In a Nov. 26 letter to the court — printed on “Ammon Bundy for Governor” letterhead — Bundy and campaign aides suggested that he already completed court-ordered public service over 1,621 hours traveling throughout the state, attending public events and encouraging people to hold public officials accountable.

“Mr. Bundy has traveled the State of Idaho several times meeting with people and encouraging them to become more active in holding public officials accountable to the People of Idaho,” said the letter, which was signed by campaign treasurer Aaron Welling. “Mr. Bundy has organized and attended over 90 public events since he was sentenced six months ago. Through these public events Mr. Bundy has encouraged hundreds of people to register to vote and begin to participate more in preserving the conservative values the great State of Idaho was built upon.”

Bundy was arrested on Aug. 25, 2020, after he refused to leave a Statehouse auditorium when officials ordered it to be cleared. Bundy, who was protesting coronavirus-related restrictions at the time, also refused to cooperate with Idaho State Police officers, and he was wheeled out of the Capitol in an office chair as he was taken into custody.

In addition to the arrest, Bundy was barred from Capitol grounds for a year. The ban expired in August, according to Lynn Hightower, communications director for Idaho State Police, the agency responsible for guarding the Statehouse.

A jury convicted Bundy this summer for trespassing and resisting arrest. He was sentenced to eight days in jail, but the sentence was commuted to 40 hours of public service, to be completed within six months, in lieu of jail. According to Idaho’s criminal code, sentencing “may include the rendering of labor and services to charities, governmental agencies, needy citizens and nonprofit organizations.”

When asked by phone whether the letter described community service or campaign activities, Welling told the Idaho Press, “It is what it is. If the courts don’t like it, the courts don’t like it.” He said several people working for the campaign, including himself and Bundy, wrote the letter. Welling noted that Bundy passed out water at political protests in addition to the other activities described as “public service.”

Bundy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Tuesday, Senior District Judge Gerald Schroeder dismissed Bundy’s appeal of the trespassing conviction. Bundy failed to pay processing fees for transcripts of his trial, a condition of the appeal, by a court-mandated deadline, according to court documents.

The transcripts for Bundy’s four-day trial totaled nearly 2,000 pages and would have cost more than $3,600, according to an email from an Ada County court reporter, which was included in court documents.

Bundy’s attorney in the case, Seth Diviney, told the Idaho Press that the transcript fee wasn’t paid in time because Diviney was “very ill” last month.

“The dismissal relates to my inactivity during the period of my illness,” he said by email.

Diviney said he has asked the court to “find good cause” to reinstate the request for an acquittal due to his illness.

Ryan Suppe is the Boise City Hall and Treasure Valley business reporter for the Idaho Press. Contact him at 208-344-2055 (ext. 3038). Follow him on Twitter @salsuppe.

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