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Rancher Cliven Bundy sues congressional candidate Ruben Kihuen over attack ads

Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy is suing Democratic congressional candidate Ruben Kihuen, alleging he’s responsible for political attack ads and mailers that are libelous and falsely connect Bundy’s 2014 dispute with federal agents to the shooting deaths of two police officers later that year.

Specifically, Bundy’s lawsuit, filed Thursday, states that Kihuen campaign ads falsely state that Bundy’s dispute with federal agents in 2014 “led to the deaths of the two Las Vegas police officers.”

Kihuen is challenging U.S. Rep. Cresent Hardy, R-Nev., in the 4th Congressional District.

Bundy is under indictment in federal court on charges in connection with the April 2014 standoff that took place between his supporters and federal agents. The BLM had rounded up his cattle because Bundy hadn’t paid grazing fees required to have them on public lands. The feds released the cattle and no shots were fired at the armed standoff.

Two months after the standoff, Jerad and Amanda Miller shot and killed officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31, in east Las Vegas. The couple died in a shootout with police.

As previously reported by the Review-Journal, the Millers had visited the Bundy ranch at one point to join the protesters, but didn’t fit in and left the group. The lawsuit says the Millers went to the ranch but never met or spoke to Bundy before they were forced to leave.

Bundy’s lawsuit calls the mailer connecting Bundy’s conflict to the police shootings as “libelous” and complains that it exposes Bundy to “hatred, contempt, ridicule and obloquy because it insinuates that (Bundy) orchestrated and promoted the disgraceful and disgusting acts of the killing of two local law enforcement officers.”

The lawsuit says the ads came in the forms of television ads and mailers.

In a statement, Kihuen’s campaign said Hardy’s association with Cliven Bundy has been called out consistently throughout the campaign and called the lawsuit a “political stunt from Cliven Bundy.” Kihuen Campaign Manager Dave Chase criticized Bundy’s comments in a New York Times account about wondering if African-Americans were “better off as slaves, picking cotton.”

Kihuen’s campaign also says its only campaign television ad that mentions Bundy doesn’t say anything about the police killings.

A mailer paid for by the Nevada State Democratic Party is part of the lawsuit’s basis. It shows a mugshot of Bundy and states: “This man’s armed standoff led to the deaths of two Las Vegas police officers.” The mailer adds: “And he’s supported by Congressman Hardy.”

Bundy’s attorney, Bret Whipple, said the discovery process in the lawsuit is designed to find out more information, adding that other parties could be added.

While the timing comes shortly before the general election, Whipple said the language used will continue to be unfair after Election Day to Bundy, who is facing a federal trial next year.

“At this point, I just want it stopped,” Whipple said. He added: “This could all be resolved with an apology.”

Hardy is not a party to the lawsuit.

Hardy campaign spokesman Larry Farnsworth fired back in a statement, noting that Kihuen’s friend, Las Vegas City Councilman Ricki Barlow, is the subject of an FBI investigation.

“If we’re going to make people guilty by association, then the only house Ruben Kihuen is headed to is the courthouse to stand by all of his friends under FBI investigation,” Farnsworth said in a statement.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2904. Follow @BenBotkin1 on Twitter.

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