Nevada legislators stand atop soapbox as Bundy backers

The Nevada legislators were vocal members of a group of approximately 100 that assembled to support Bundy and his fellow defendants, who face criminal charges after their participation in a 2014 standoff with the Bureau of Land Management. An increased police presence was noted, but officers kept an extremely low profile.

It was the kind of unthreatening protest that, in retrospect, Bundy may wish had taken place back when ham-handed BLM contractors unsuccessfully tried to round up his herd.

The challenge for legislators Shelton and Moore is whether they fully appreciate their responsibilities as public officials when it comes to discussing such volatile issues as the Bunkerville standoff and the takeover of an Oregon federal wildlife refuge in January that resulted in the shooting death of reactionary Arizona rancher Robert LaVoy Finicum. The politicians also were on hand in the final days of the Oregon standoff.

Here are two excerpts from their Thursday pronouncements:

“A man was murdered as well, Mr. Finicum, at the hands of the FBI, the Oregon State Police, and others,” said Moore, who often mentions his military service. “Contractors out of Idaho Falls, Blackstone I believe. It’s time that the federal government wakes up, responds to the needs of the people instead of overrunning our citizens. I did not fight in combat so that my government can murder citizens, treat us like dogs, and run us like cattle into jail, holding us in cages, like animals.

“… Our political prisoners must be freed. They are being held unconstitutionally.”

Shelton said, “God is on our side. This country was founded on God’s principles. And we have innocent until proven guilty. And we have to remember that. We have prisoners, in jail right now who are innocent and they’re being held without bond.”

Shelton, who often mentions God and prayer in her public speeches, said she’s heard stories of cruelty toward the defendants, including them being “chained to a wall for hours” and being denied phone access.

“You have rapists and murderers being treated better than our political prisoners,” Shelton said. “And for what? For standing up for liberties and our freedoms. And we need to stand behind them.”

The voices of protest in the Bundy case figure to remain strong, at least as long as that megaphone holds out.

HOOP HYPE: Look no further than this week’s Mountain West basketball tournament for a sign of how Las Vegas can benefit from sporting events even without its own professional franchise.

Take The Mirage, for instance. This week it looks a lot like the rooting section for the University of New Mexico. The Lobos’ boosters are headquartered there, and there’s even a Lobo Lounge near the sports book. There are pep rallies, giveaways, and drink specials.

More than 160,000 fans are expected to converge on the Mountain West, WCC, and Pac-12 tournaments, including diehards and repeats with 23,000 or so coming from outside Southern Nevada, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Senior Director of Communications Jeremy Handel says. That translates into approximately $22 million in direct spending with a total economic impact of $36 million.

That’s just the college hoops. Once the NCAA Tournament cranks up, Las Vegas reminds the gambling world that it’s a sports betting mecca.

ON THE BOULEVARD: If someone hands you a leaflet on the Boulevard, it’s likely to be a card advertising outcall “girls to your room” or “exotic entertainment.” On Thursday, at least one protestor at the courthouse was issuing a copy of something called “The Constitution of the United States.” … Former Assemblyman Pat Hickey, the Republican conservatives love to hate, on Wednesday filed to retain his seat on the State Board of Education, a position to which he was appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval in October.

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