A Bundy Believer Heads to Oregon's Senate

Earlier this month, Oregon State Representative Dallas Heard was appointed to fill the State Senate seat of Jeff Kruse, who resigned this year following the release of an independent investigator's report that confirmed he had engaged in unwelcome physical contact with coworkers in the Oregon legislature.

Heard is little known but for the notoriety he gained back in 2016 when he joined out-of-state politicians for a visit to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during its occupation by the Bundy militia. Heard was urged not to visit with the occupiers, resisting calls from his fellow Oregon legislators, as well as local officials and law enforcement.  He declared himself  "elected representative of the people” and blamed the media for “getting a lot wrong.”

However, Heard himself ended up being the one to get a lot wrong during the trip, misrepresenting several facts to local officials and the FBI during a meeting in Harney County, including support from other Oregon elected officials.

Heard said that Rep. Mike McLane, the leader of Oregon House Republicans, was aware of the plans. “He supports what I’m doing,” Heard said in the recording, which was taken by a participant in the room. “One of the reasons he’s not here is because he has his voluntary guard duty stuff. And I wish he was here.”

That weekend, McLane was at the Oregon Air National Guard. However, in an interview with OPB, McLane denied ever endorsing the refuge occupation or Heard’s actions.

“I didn’t support it and I don’t support it,” he said. “Rep. Heard is mistaken.”

Steve Grasty, County Judge (not an actual judge, more like a county commissioner) at the time, was unimpressed with Heard’s excuses.

"I find it really interesting that not only did law enforcement advise him not to go out there, [but] it seems to me that we now have a state representative who will not listen to local input," Grasty said. "And isn't that the same thing that our armed visitors are saying about the federal government? It's the same thing."

Heard has expressed sympathy to the national public lands seizure movement, an effort of special interests and well-funded politicians to turn management of public lands and resources over to private industry. One of Heard's top donors, for example, is Lone Rock Timber Management Company, which made an unsuccessful bid to privatize Oregon's Elliott State Forest. 

Undermining public lands protections and turning them over to local commercial interests was a core message of the Bundy’s armed takeover of the Malheur wildlife refuge in 2016. 

However, this stance has been widely rejected by Oregonians. 

Statewide, 80 percent of the poll's respondents said they would be less likely to support a politician who voted to "sell off or privatize" public lands.

Dallas Heard will now be working with new colleagues in the Oregon Senate. It would behoove Oregon’s State Senators to take a page from Dallas Heard’s own playbook and, on the subject of public lands, just ignore his advice.

Photo Credits: 
Malheur photo by Jergen Hess