Letters from the West

Idaho lawmakers Scott and Boyle returned to Oregon refuge to get occupiers out

CORRECTION: This article originally misidentified occupier David Fry.

Idaho Republican Reps. Judy Boyle of Midvale and Heather Scott of Blanchard were among those gathered outside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Thursday when the occupation ended. Like others, they said they were there to ensure the occupiers’ safety.

Idaho couple Sean and Sandy Anderson walked out to a checkpoint where the Rev. Franklin Graham and Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore were waiting. Jeff Banta, of Yerlington, Nev., soon joined them.

But the FBI separated Graham and Fiore from the others on hand, which made the occupiers “freak out,” Boyle said. Nonetheless, Fiore and the FBI got those three to leave peacefully.

Occupier David Fry spent the next two hours making more demands. At one point he had a gun to his head. Boyle said Fry had not had the medications he needs for mental issues.

Boyle and Scott were several miles down the road from the checkpoint with Ammon Bundy’s lawyer, Mike Arnold. Arnold used Boyle’s phone to call Bundy in jail in Portland to try to patch him into the FBI negotiator. Boyle did not know whether Bundy played a role, but soon Fry walked out.

“I’m just glad there there was no more bloodshed,” Scott told the Statesman.

Fiore called Scott on Wednesday, asking her and Boyle to assist because the Andersons are from Riggins. There were no rooms in Burns, so the two Idaho lawmakers slept in a truck.

“These aren’t my constituents, but they are Idahoans; they are four lives,” Boyle told the Statesman.

“We figured the FBI wouldn’t kill legislators as much as regular citizens like they did two weeks ago,” she said, referring to the shooting death of occupier Lavoy Finicum, who drove off from a police stop, got out of a truck after crashing into a snowbank to avoid a roadblock, and then was seen reaching inside his jacket, where the FBI said he had a loaded gun. “We were there as shields.”

Boyle said she heard criticism for not being in the Capitol after her January trip to the refuge to meet Bundy. She said saving lives matters more.

Greg Bretzing, the FBI agent in charge of the operation made reference to Fiore and Graham in his comments but none about a possible role of Bundy in convincing Fry to leave.

"As we have said since day one, our goal has been to end this illegal occupation peacefully, and we are grateful that we were able to do so today," Bretzing said.

Rocky Barker: 208-377-6484, @RockyBarker