After his GOP backers largely abandoned him, scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy has left the Republican Party.
Bundy, who remains embroiled in a dispute federal government over grazing rights on federal land, signed forms Friday night with his wife, Carol, to register with the Independent American Party.
“I haven’t got much good out of the Democrats and Republicans so I decided to try a new one,” Bundy said.
The anti-government party, which aims to reverse laws and treaties that are “an offense to God and our Founding Fathers,” sponsored the event at the Las Vegas National Golf Course to honor Bundy’s “courage in standing up for state sovereignty.”
The party has endorsed conspiracy theorist David Lory Van Der Beek, who believes terrorist attacks and mass shootings are government-backed false flag organizations, as its candidate for Nevada lieutenant governor.
Van Der Beek has been a staunch defender of Bundy and his cause, including a bizarre videotaped “debate” with Nevada’s Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval as chickens cackled in the background.
“The fundamental legal question is, what government should he be accountable to?” Van Der Beek asked a cardboard cutout of the governor. “His legal argument is that he should be accountable to his county government, not the federal government.”
The Bureau of Land Management alleges that Bundy owes more than $1 million in grazing fees and penalties for allowing his cattle to graze for more than 20 years on federally owned land.
But the rancher refused to recognize federal authority over the land, and his cause drew armed militia members to his Bunkerville, Nevada, ranch, forcing a standoff with federal agents.
The government backed down to prevent bloodshed, although the dispute remains unsettled and militia members remain in the area to the annoyance of some neighbors.
Bundy’s cause drew the support of Republican lawmakers and conservative commentators such as Sean Hannity of Fox News, but most of that mainstream support dried up after the rancher wondered aloud whether black people had been better off as slaves.
Niger Innis, a Republican candidate for Nevada’s 4th congressional district and son of civil rights legend Roy Innis, defended Bundy at the Independent American Party event.
“I don’t consider Cliven racist at all,” said the younger Innis, who blamed the controversy on Bundy’s liberal enemies.
“They will try to distract, with the firestorm that Cliven started by using the R-word,” Innis said. “The racism word. I can only tell you my experience with the Bundys. Having eaten with them and broken bread with them, and I don’t consider Cliven or his wonderful family racist at all. Period, end of story.”
Watch this video of Bundy joining the Independent American Party posted online by David Lory Van Der Beek: