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Anti-Public Lands Nominee Pendley Puts Gardner, Daines “In A Tough Spot”

Trump’s Nomination of William Perry Pendley as Bureau of Land Management Director Despite Long History of Anti-Environmental Views and Advocating to Sell Off Federal Lands Puts “Endangered GOP Senators” in an “Awkward Position”

A new story from HuffPost spotlights how President Trump’s formal nomination of William Perry Pendley, an extremist with “anti-environmental views and a long history of advocating for the sale of federal lands,” to run the Bureau of Land Management is putting endangered Senators Cory Gardner and Steve Daines “in a tough spot.” The emerging “dilemma” will force Gardner and Daines, facing increasingly difficult re-election campaigns, to decide whether to “enrage public land advocates” in their states or “face the wrath of Trump.”

Gardner and Daines have both refused to disavow Pendley in the past:

  • Daines even “signaled… that he’d back Pendley” last year, but a Daines spokeswoman “declined to comment” this week on whether he still plans to support Pendley.
  • Gardner has “managed to avoid taking a stand on the controversial public lands chief” – including again this week in a disastrous interview where he refused to say whether Pendley’s past positions and statements should disqualify him as BLM director.

“Senator Daines and Senator Gardner have been trying to mislead voters and greenwash their records, but their reluctance to reject a dangerous enemy of public lands like William Perry Pendley is yet another reminder of their real priorities and why they deserve to lose their seats,” said DSCC spokesperson Stewart Boss. “Refusing to oppose an anti-environment extremist who wants to sell off public lands is more proof Senator Daines and Senator Gardner can’t be trusted to stand up to their party leaders in Washington, even when it means failing their states.”

HuffPost: Trump’s Pick For Public Lands Chief Puts Endangered GOP Senators In A Bind
Either Cory Gardner and Steve Daines back an anti-environment extremist and outrage public land advocates, or they oppose him and face Trump’s wrath.

By Chris D’Angelo
July 1, 2020

Key Points:

  • President Donald Trump just put two of his favorite Senate allies in a tough spot. 
  • Late Tuesday, Trump formally nominated William Perry Pendley, a conservative lawyer with extreme anti-environmental views and a long history of advocating for the sale of federal lands, to serve as director of the Bureau of Land Management ― an agency that manages 245 million acres, more than one-third of all federal land.
  • Pendley could have remained in that [acting] role indefinitely, but Trump instead opted on the cusp of the 2020 elections to kickstart the scrutiny of a Senate confirmation process that Pendley has so far avoided.
  • That presumably will confront Republican Sens. Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Steve Daines (Mont.) ― two close Trump allies facing tough reelection bids… with a dilemma: vote to confirm Pendley, which would surely enrage public land advocates, or oppose the nominee and face the wrath of Trump.
  • Land Tawney, president of the Montana-based nonprofit Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, told HuffPost that Pendley’s nomination “poisons the well.” 
  • Daines signaled in November that he’d back Pendley for the BLM director post, as E&E News reported. Asked Wednesday if Daines still plans to support Pendley, a spokeswoman declined to comment. 
  • Gardner has managed to avoid taking a stand on the controversial public lands chief. During a Wednesday interview with Colorado Public Radio, he was asked if Pendley’s past positions and statements, including advocating for the sale of public land and dismissing climate change activists as “kooks,” should disqualify him from leading the federal agency.
  • Pendley, whose anti-environmental record is well-documented, is unlikely to answer tough questions from senators. He has repeatedly dismissed concerns about his stance on federal lands and claimed his personal views and past statements ― including describing climate science as “junk science” and comparing immigrants to a “cancer” ― are “irrelevant” to leading the bureau. 
  • A native of Wyoming, Pendley is the former longtime president of Mountain States Legal Foundation, a right-wing nonprofit that has pushed for the government to sell off millions of federal acres.
  • Pendley… has said the Endangered Species Act seeks “to kill or prevent anybody from making a living on federal land,” railed against environmental “terrorists” and “eco-fascists,” and published anti-environmental pieces in a fringe magazine of the late cult leader, convicted fraudster and paranoid conspiracy theorist Lyndon LaRouche.
  • Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond School of Law who closely tracks presidential nominations, told HuffPost that Pendley’s nomination does not make political sense for the GOP effort to retain its Senate majority, given the awkward position it puts Daines and Gardner in. 
  • “It’s the fox in the henhouse,” Tobias said of Pendley, adding that Trump administration officials must know “he’s a lightning rod for people in the West.”

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