Idaho lawmakers take aim at Ammon Bundy’s goon squads: ‘We shouldn’t have to legislate this behavior’
Ammon Bundy (screengrab)

A bipartisan pair of Idaho lawmakers are co-sponsoring legislation aimed at right-wing activist Ammon Bundy's "intimidation" tactics against elected officials.

State Rep. Greg Chaney (R-Caldwell) signed on as co-sponsor of House Bill 195 to prohibit targeted protests outside a person's home with intent to harass, annoy or alarm, and shortly afterward pitchfork-and-torch-wielding demonstrators hung him in effigy outside his family's home, reported the Idaho Statesman.

"It didn't bother me for my sake, it bothered me to see the unrest in my wife and my kids," Chaney said. "My wife is tough. She always has my back, and I have hers. But it did create a sense of insecurity in our home. It lingered for — it still lingers if you talk to her — but it was palpable for a couple of weeks after."

The Republican legislator backed the bill, which ultimately failed, after Bundy's People's Rights Group picketed outside the homes of police officers and public officials to protest coronavirus safety measures, and the measure also received rare bipartisan support in a House where Republicans enjoy a 58-12 supermajority.

"I went to him and said, 'Listen you had a lot of courage to say what you did out loud,'" said state Rep. Brooke Green (D-Boise).

Green brought the bill forward and sought out Chaney as co-sponsor after the GOP legislator called out Bundy by name after his group gathered outside a police officer's home April 22, 2020, to protest the arrest of a woman who disobeyed a playground closure.

"Go home, Ammon," Chaney says in a video recorded at that time.

The anti-lockdown protests continued throughout the year at the homes of public officials who backed measures to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus, and Green and Chaney decided legislative action was needed.

"Nothing was more resonant than seeing the kids becoming victims in their home because of parents doing their jobs," Green said.

The ACLU and Idaho Freedom Foundation made unlikely allies against the bill, whose opponents called it well-intentioned but overly broad, although supporters say the protests may collide with the state's newly passed stand-your-ground laws.

"The last thing I want is to add more laws to the book," said Green, who plans to bring back the bill if the residential protests continue. "We shouldn't have to legislate this behavior."