Far-right provocateur Ammon Bundy—who was arrested at his son’s football banquet on Friday—could have bonded out by posting $10,000. But instead he was spending the weekend cooling his heels in an Idaho jail.
That’s no accident, according to a lawyer for the hospital that has been locked in a legal battle with the militia leader.
Erik Stidham, a lawyer for St. Luke’s Health System, told The Daily Beast in a statement that “Mr. Bundy could easily get out of jail now by paying an extremely low bond. He is not paying the bond because he wants to use his arrest and time in jail to further a false narrative that he is some kind of martyr.”
“Mr. Bundy is not a martyr, he is a grifter who continues to grift his followers by asking them to shield him [from] paying damages and facing the contempt charges,” Stidham added.
Stidham led the legal team that won a $52 million judgment against Bundy, an associate, and three organizations after a defamation trial that Bundy boycotted.
A judge found him in contempt for failing to show up for legal proceedings, and an arrest warrant was issued in April.
In an Aug. 10 video posted on social media, Bundy bragged about all the things he has been doing instead of answering the arrest warrant—including traveling to multiple states and Mexico.
“This idea that I am just holed up in my house and hiding behind a window sill with an AK-47 is just another great lie from our wonderful media,” Bundy said. “So, I just wanted to dispel that.”
The next day, the Gem County Sheriff’s Office showed up at an Emmett High School football fundraiser, handcuffed him, and escorted him out as attendees booed, as seen in video posted on Bundy’s social media.
His arrest predictably sparked outrage among his supporters, several of whom were seen outside Gem County Jail holding signs and yelling. His official Twitter account urged supporters to “Gather at Gem County Sheriff’s office in Emmett if you can!”
The arrest is the latest legal development in Bundy’s ongoing battle with St. Luke’s, which began after he organized days of protests, claiming an associate’s grandson was kidnapped by the hospital. In reality, 10-month-old “Baby Cyrus” was taken into protective custody after officials determined he was malnourished.
The protests spurred authorities to arrest Bundy, then a gubernatorial candidate, for trespassing outside of the hospital last March. At the time, Bundy insisted that the infant was “medically kidnapped” over a “missed non-emergency doctor’s appointment.”
The allegations spurred St. Luke’s to file a defamation suit against Bundy and Diego Rodriguez, who is Baby Cyrus’ grandfather and an activist in Bundy’s far-right People’s Rights Network (PRN).
During the course of the case, the Gem County Sheriff briefly refused to serve legal papers to Bundy on his property out of concern for his deputies’ safety—after Bundy threatened to greet law enforcement on his doorstep with a shotgun.
After the jury issued its $52 million verdict, Bundy insisted in an interview with the Idaho Statesman he had no plans to turn over any assets or abide by any court decision.
“I owe St. Luke’s nothing,” Bundy told the outlet. “I plan on doing what I have been doing. Providing for my family and living life as much as normal.” He also said it would be too expensive to appeal.
On Friday, the hospital filed a new complaint against Bundy, accusing him of hiding assets to “frustrate” efforts to collect their damages. In the complaint, the health care system and other plaintiffs asked to void any transfers of property of assets made by Bundy and his family.
Bundy sold his his $1 million home in December in what the filing called a “sham transaction.” The hospital’s filing states that the Bundys are still on the property.
— Isabella Ramirez contributed reporting