LAS VEGAS (CN) — Cliven Bundy on Thursday sued a Democratic congressional candidate from Nevada, claiming Ruben Kihuen blamed him for the killing of two police officers during, but away from, the armed standoff at Bundy's ranch in April 2014.
Bundy seeks at least $160,000 in damages for what he calls Kihuen's misrepresentation of the "peaceful protest" against the Bureau of Land Management at or around near Bundy's Bunkerville ranch.
Kihuen, a Nevada state senator, is running for Nevada's Fourth Congressional District seat, in central Nevada, against GOP incumbent Cresent Hardy.
On June 8, 2014, Jerad and Amanda Miller, who were married, killed two police officers and an armed civilian in North Las Vegas. Jerad Miller died from gunshot wounds inside a Wal-Mart. Amanda Miller shot herself and died next to her husband.
Investigation indicated the Millers traveled from Oklahoma to the Bundy Ranch to take part in the "peaceful protest," Bundy says in the complaint in Clark County Court.
He says he never met or spoke with the Millers, who were "forced away from the group, as they appeared to be a threat to the participants of the protest."
Bundy says that on Oct. 24 this year, he learned of political ads on TV and in mailed flyers to Clark County residents on Kihuen's behalf. He says the attack ads "included false claims that were wrongfully and/or intentionally reported as 'facts' regarding plaintiff, which were known to be false."
The complaint continues: "Specifically, one of the advertisements distributed by Ruben Kihuen claims Bundy's dispute with federal agents over his cattle grazing on Bundy Ranch 'led to the deaths of the two Las Vegas police officers.'"
Bundy says that "this factual assertion is false, that the defendant knew it was false and/or negligently published and aired information he should have known to be false, and that this factually inaccurate publication damaged the plaintiff's reputation and has additionally damaged him financially."
Most of the residents of Nevada's Fourth Congressional District live in northern Clark County.
Kihuen's campaign manager Dave Chase told Courthouse News in an email: "It is beyond absurd for Cliven Bundy to pretend he's worried about protecting his 'good name' while his son is talking to national media about leading yet another armed insurrection. ... This lawsuit — filed just days before an election — is clearly nothing more than a political stunt from Cliven Bundy on behalf of his close friend and ally Congressman Hardy."
Chase also said that the TV ads were never broadcast.
He added: "Since the start of this campaign, we have consistently called out Congressman Hardy for his controversial association with racist rancher Cliven Bundy. Congressman Hardy's failure to disavow Bundy despite his racism and total disregard for the law is a glaring reminder that he is out of touch with the people of the 4th Congressional District."
Bundy says the mailer sent to voters is "libelous on its face" and exposes him to "hatred, contempt, ridicule and obloquy because it insinuates that the plaintiff orchestrated and promoted the disgraceful and disgusting acts of the killing of two local law enforcement officers."
He says the mailer has injured his "good name, reputation and credit as a community activist." He seeks compensatory and punitive damages of $20,000 or more on each of four counts of defamation.
His attorney Bret Whipple could not be reached by phone Thursday evening and did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.
Kihuen's campaign did not immediately respond to an email request for comment Thursday evening.
Bundy, 70, and 16 co-defendants face up to 80 years in prison on up to 16 felony charges each, in a trial set for Feb. 6, 2017. Bundy also faces a $3 million fine for unpaid federal grazing fees and penalties for interfering with the Bureau of Land Management.
Bundy and his supporters held off federal and local officials in April 2014 when they tried to round up cattle Bundy had grazed on federal land without a permit and without paying grazing fees for more than 20 years, and for 16 years after a federal judge told him to keep his cattle off the federal land near Bunkerville.
Two co-defendants pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.