Ammon Bundy headed to jail after Idaho judge says he ‘consistently’ defied orders

Darin Oswald/doswald@idahostatesman.com
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Far-right leader Ammon Bundy is heading to jail for 10 days.

The gubernatorial candidate was found guilty of being in contempt of court Thursday after he refused to complete 40 hours of community service related to a July 2021 conviction. Bundy had argued that the stops made during his gubernatorial campaign satisfy his court-mandated community service.

Ada County Magistrate Judge Annie McDevitt sentenced Bundy to 10 days in jail along with a $3,000 fine. He was immediately handcuffed and taken to the Ada County Jail on Thursday.

“You didn’t just blow it off. Rather, you took the time and effort to blatantly disrespect the court’s order, making a mockery of the sentence you received,” McDevitt told Bundy. “You were given an opportunity to go complete public service — you could have done it.”

In February, Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Whitney Welsh issued a motion to hold Bundy in contempt of court for not completing the 40 hours of community service he was sentenced to after he was found guilty of trespassing at the Lincoln Auditorium.

Bundy had until Jan. 1, 2022, to complete the 40 hours of community service, and he had yet to complete any as of Thursday. In the motion, Welsh argued that Bundy willfully failed to complete his community service.

Bundy disagreed. Less than a month before the community service was due, Bundy had argued that his campaign stops satisfied the community service mandate. On Nov. 29, Bundy’s campaign treasurer, Aaron Welling, submitted a letter to Idaho’s 4th District Court and claimed Bundy had “completed 1,621 hours of public service.”

Welling said Bundy has traveled the state while encouraging people to “become more active in holding public officials accountable to the people of Idaho.”

Bundy argues campaign was public service

During roughly two hours of court proceedings, Bundy said that prosecutors did not meet their burden of proof in proving he was guilty.

He argued he performed a public service in campaigning, and that his campaign organization was a nonprofit — which were two of the terms stipulated by the preceding judge in July, when Bundy was initially sentenced.

Bundy also argued that Bundy for Governor, the organization that signed off on his 1,621 hours of community service, was not his company but an organization formed to help him become governor.

McDevitt argued that even if the campaign was a nonprofit, the court told Bundy in July that “working for your own company isn’t going to count.”

“You did not do public service that was selfless, that was to serve others, but rather, you did it for your own campaign — which is by design to get you elected as governor, which is a paid political position in the state of Idaho,” McDevitt said.

In a roughly 20-minute presentation Thursday, Welsh showed multiple videos and documented Bundy’s well-known history with the criminal justice system in recent years, saying that Bundy has “repeatedly shown contempt for the laws of the state of Idaho.”

“He has a repeated pattern of interpreting the law however he believes it should be interpreted,” Welsh said during Thursday’s sentencing. “And even worse than that, he’s a leader in showing others how he believes the law should be interpreted and encouraging them to follow his lead.”