Thursday, May 1, 2014 | 11:09 a.m.
Nevada Sen. Dean Heller said he thinks rancher Cliven Bundy should have to pay the government the more than $1 million he owes for allowing his cattle to graze illegally on public lands since 1993.
The Republican made the comment in response to a reporter’s question during a press conference today on his unemployment bill. He didn’t elaborate. His staff maintains Heller has always thought Bundy should pay the fees, and Heller said as much in an interview with Politico this week".
But Heller’s comments today mark a continued shift in Heller’s tone when talking about Bundy. This week, he told Politico he was “too quick” in calling Bundy’s supporters “patriots,” a phrase he backtracked from after the Bunkerville rancher was quoted wondering if black Americans would be better off as slaves.
Heller’s comments in Washington comes as more light is shed on just how dangerous the April 12 standoff between government officials and the self-described militia supporters who rallied to Bundy’s side really was. BLM officials called off a cattle roundup after tensions escalated between militiamen and government officials.
And tensions still appear to be high. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., sent a letter this week to Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie detailing the police-like state he said Bunkerville residents feel they’re in as Bundy supporters carry guns around schools, parks and have a presence on local and federal roads.
Nevada’s other senator, Harry Reid, is also dealing with fallout from the standoff. The Senate majority leader said authorities are investigating death threats he received in connection to his comment that Bundy supporters are “domestic terrorists.”