WASHINGTON — Federal authorities are investigating threats against Sen. Harry Reid, U.S. Capitol Police confirmed Monday, in the wake of the standoff over Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s “trespass cattle.”
The Capitol Police “is currently looking into threatening statements made against Sen. Reid, as part of an ongoing investigation,” spokesman Shennell Antrobus said. He declined to discuss the nature of the threats or to confirm details of Reid’s security. It was unclear whether the threats were related to the Bundy standoff.
Politico first reported the investigation and said Reid has increased his security detail in recent days. A Reid spokeswoman declined to comment. As Senate majority leader, the Nevada Democrat is provided a 24-hour guard team by the agency that provides security in the Capitol complex.
Reid initially kept a low profile as the Bureau of Land Management attempted to round up Bundy cattle deemed to be grazing illegally on public land in the Gold Butte region of Clark County.
Bundy, who says he does not recognize U.S. government jurisdiction on the land, has not paid grazing fees since the early 1990s and is said to owe $1.1 million.
But Reid unloaded when the BLM was forced to back down on April 12 after hundreds of armed Bundy supporters showed up, adding to the tense atmosphere.
“Those people who hold themselves out to be patriots are not. They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists,” Reid said during an April 17 appearance at a discussion hosted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
He later called Bundy a “hateful racist” after the rancher made inflammatory remarks about African-Americans on April 19.
The BLM has not signaled its next move. While the standoff continues, the continued presence of people with guns is causing worry in the rural communities in northeastern Clark County.
On Sunday, Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., urged Sheriff Douglas Gillespie to investigate complaints about the “armed militia groups” in the area.
Horsford, whose congressional district includes the area, alleged that people with guns “have set up checkpoints where residents are required to prove they live in the area before being allowed to pass.”
Horsford said militia members also have established “a persistent presence along the highways and local roads, and near churches and schools.”
“We must respect individual constitutional liberties but the residents of and visitors to Clark County should not be expected to live under the persistent watch of an armed militia,” Horsford said.
A similar request was made of the FBI, according to sources. Horsford’s office said Monday evening that he has asked “appropriate federal agencies” to stay abreast of the situation and work with Gillespie.
Gillespie did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
Horsford met last Thursday with elected officials from Mesquite, Bunkerville and Moapa Valley.
“They are extremely frustrated by the fact we have these armed militia in our community, the fact that children in Bunkerville cannot walk around the corner from their home to school without armed militia on the hills,” Horsford said afterwards in a television interview.
“We want the armed militia to know we want you to leave.” Horsford said. “The neighbors of Cliven Bundy want their community back.”
Review-Journal reporter Jeff German contributed to this report.
Contact Steve Tetreault at 202-783-1760 or STetreault@stephensmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.