Ex-Idaho governor candidate Ammon Bundy issued new $250K bond arrest warrant
Former Idaho gubernatorial candidate Ammon Bundy — who was arrested in August on contempt of court charges — has a new warrant out for his arrest after skipping the first day of his court trial.
The trial, set to start Monday, would have focused on contempt of court charges requested by private attorneys representing St. Luke’s Health System and several medical professionals, who were awarded a combined $52 million in damages this year after suing Bundy, associate Diego Rodriguez and groups linked to them.
“My entire life has been consumed by political prosecutions. I must now do what is necessary to sustain my family,” Bundy wrote in an email to the court.
After reading Bundy’s email to a courtroom of attorneys and Bundy supporters on Monday, Ada County District Court Judge Nancy Baskin announced that she’d issue a warrant for Bundy’s arrest, raising the bond to $250,000. Baskin revoked Bundy’s $10,000 of bond paid on his first arrest warrant, issued in April by a previous judge overseeing the case.
“This court is doing everything in its power to protect Mr. Bundy’s rights, to give him an opportunity to confront and cross-examine witnesses, to have his motion to dismiss heard. I simply cannot do that unless he is actually at court,” Baskin said.
Bundy is being charged with civil and criminal contempt for allegedly violating court orders issued by a previous judge in a lawsuit brought by St. Luke’s Health System that required him to remove defamatory statements from the internet and to not intimidate or harass witnesses in the lawsuit.
If convicted in the first contempt trial, Bundy could face up to six months in jail, Baskin previously ordered. The maximum legal penalty for each civil contempt penalty is $5,000 and five days in jail.
Bundy and Rodirguez did not attend the two-week jury trial in July, which Rodriguez appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court. Several witnesses who testified in the July trial said that webpages focused on harassing them were still online, despite the previous order barring Bundy, Rodriguez and their groups from threatening or intimidating witnesses affiliated with the lawsuit.
Bundy applied for a public defender ahead of the contempt trial, but withdrew his request the same day as he was scheduled for a hearing on the request, which he did not attend.
“Once again, Mr. Bundy thinks he can simply say he does not need to be in court. Again, that is not how the rule of law works in this country,” Baskin said.
If Bundy does not appear in court after being arrested on a new warrant, the court “will set a bond so high that I don’t think he can post it,” Baskin said.
Bundy did appear in court in August after he was arrested on contempt of court charges.
Attorneys for St. Luke’s Health System filed 22 counts of contempt against Bundy in the contempt trial. The court would have on Monday taken up Bundy’s request to dismiss the charges, which he argued in previous court filings were too vague and that the contempt charges violate his freedom of speech.
Bundy was also scheduled on Monday to be arraigned on a new motion by St. Luke’s Health System attorneys to hold Bundy in contempt of court. The new motion alleges that Bundy violated an order by Baskin issued in August ordering Bundy and others in the case to remove statements deemed false and damaging in the lawsuit that concluded this summer. Baskin said she would decide later whether to combine those charges with Bundy’s existing contempt charges or to consider them separately.
The contempt trial was originally scheduled in October. But Baskin moved the trial to November after Bundy requested additional time to harvest fruit.
As an independent in the 2022 governor race, Bundy earned 17% of the vote, more than 100,000 votes. While Bundy still came behind Democratic candidate Stephen Heidt and the successful Republican candidate Gov. Brad Little, Bundy had only received about 20,000 fewer votes than Heidt.
A timeline of Bundy’s court saga with St. Luke’s:
May 11, 2022: St. Luke’s Health System, St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center, its CEO and two other employees sued Ammon Bundy, associate Diego Rodriguez and groups linked to them for defamation and harassment.
April 18, 2023: Judge Lynn Norton, who previously oversaw the case, issued an arrest warrant for Bundy. That was in response to motions by attorneys for St Luke’s Health System who sought to charge Bundy with contempt of court for allegedly violating orders by the judge.
July 24, 2023: A jury ordered Bundy, Rodriguez and groups linked to them to pay $52.5 million.
Aug. 11, 2023: Bundy was arrested in Gem County on contempt of court charges. Bundy’s bond on his first arrest warrant was $10,000. He was sued earlier that day a second time by St. Luke’s Health System. The second lawsuit alleges that Bundy has made fraudulent property transfers to evade collection of $26 million in damages awarded to the hospital system in its initial lawsuit against him, People’s Rights Network and his campaign for governor.
Aug. 25, 2023: Ada County Judge Nancy Baskin issued a permanent injunction in the first lawsuit ordering Bundy, Rodriguez and groups linked to them to remove defamatory statements from their website about St. Luke’s Health System and three employees — including ones referring to them as “criminals” or alleging abuse and kidnapping.
Aug. 29, 2023: Bundy appeared in Ada County District Court on his contempt of court charges. Bundy was charged with civil and criminal contempt for allegedly violating court orders issued by a previous judge in the case that required him to remove defamatory statements from the internet and to not intimidate witnesses in the lawsuit. Judge Baskin also slightly reduced damages owed in the lawsuit to about $52 million due to a technical error.
Sept. 8, 2023: Gem County Judge Brent Whiting, presiding over St. Luke’s second lawsuit, blocked Bundy and others from moving financial assets through a preliminary injunction. Bundy later defaulted in that lawsuit, essentially forfeiting, the Idaho Statesman reported.
Oct. 20, 2023: Private attorneys for St. Luke’s Health System file a new motion for contempt against Bundy, People’s Rights Network and Bundy’s campaign for governor for allegedly not removing defamatory statements as ordered by judge Baskin on Aug. 25.
Nov. 13, 2023: Bundy was scheduled to begin his trial for contempt of court charges. The trial could have lasted through Friday, Nov. 17.