BOISE, Idaho — Far-right activist and gubernatorial candidate Ammon Bundy was ordered to spend ten days in jail and pay a $3,000 fine after a judge found him in contempt for failing to complete court-ordered public service.
Bundy had been sentenced in July to 40 hours of "public service" in lieu of a jail sentence after being convicted of trespassing and resisting arrest for refusing to leave a closed committee room in the Idaho Statehouse during the 2020 legislative special session.
The sentencing judge told Bundy that he could complete that service at a church or non-profit of his choice, but explicitly warned him that working for his own organization, or any service for which he got paid would not count.
However, Bundy submitted hours that he had worked on his own political campaign, turning in a letter on his own "Ammon Bundy For Governor" letterhead certifying that he had completed all 40 hours.
On Thursday, Judge Annie McDevitt ruled that not only did his campaign work not satisfy the requirement, but that it showed blatant disrespect for the instructions he had been given.
Bundy did not just blow off his court-ordered service - which happens with defendants sometimes - but instead willfully made "a mockery of the sentence you received," McDevitt told him.
At the contempt hearing, Prosecutor Whitney Welsh urged the judge to send the message that Bundy was not above the law, playing videos that showed him involved in violent clashes at the Statehouse and at Southwest District Health building and recounting his many arrests and refusals to follow court orders.
"He does not obey laws with which he does not agree," Welsh told the judge.
Welsh also pointed to instances in which Bundy had targeted those who crossed him, including a video of him reading out the home address of a Ada County judge who had presided over a child custody hearing involving his family friends, as well as threats he made to Idaho State Police troopers who took him into custody.
"I'll come after you, each one of you personally," Bundy says in footage from the back of the police car, telling the troopers he would find out where they lived. "You will not be protected, you have been forewarned."
Acting as his own attorney for the contempt hearing, Bundy argued that Idaho's trespassing laws that resulted in his original conviction were flawed, adding that he would like to see the United States Supreme Court weigh in on their legality. He also argued that police and Statehouse officials did not have the authority to arrest him or ban him from that Statehouse, and told McDevitt that he had had been punctual and polite throughout the court process.
"Do I go around breaking the law everywhere? Do I go around disrespecting the courts?" he asks. "No, I don't."
McDevitt was not convinced, however, and handed down the maximum allowed sentence: The suspended five day jail sentence on the original trespass conviction, followed by another five days for contempt.
"The whole point of public service is to give back to the community in ways that do not serve yourself," she said. "Clearly, working for your own campaign is self-serving work."
The judge also condemned Bundy directing his supporters to go to the home of a judge he disagreed with, telling him she believed he was wielding his leadership and influence to bully and harass people.
"You repeatedly violate lawful orders to suit your own agenda," she said.
Bundy was handcuffed by deputies and taken into custody immediately after the hearing to begin serving the ten-day sentence.
Bundy's political campaign manager, Wendy Leatham, released a statement on his sentence Thursday afternoon, arguing that he should not have been convicted of the original trespassing charge and that his "over 1,000 hours of public service performed on the campaign trail" should have counted as the court-ordered service.
"If this not-for-profit act isn’t considered a 'service' to the public, we don’t know what is," Leatham wrote. "So, he is now being subjected to a total of 10-days in jail (with no bail option) and a $3,000 fine. If ever there was a demonstration of abuse of power and systemic corruption of our legal system—you are witnessing it right now."
Bundy's latest trespassing case from March remains pending, with a pretrial date set for May 16.
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