- Associated Press - Friday, February 17, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah has called for a wider probe of a federal Bureau of Land Management agent who played a key role in the standoff with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy before coming under investigation for his activities at Burning Man.

The chair of the House Oversight Committee said in a letter that the allegations against Salt Lake City supervisor Daniel Love could undermine trust in the agency and should be probed by Department of Interior inspectors. The department’s Office of Inspector General did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter released on Friday.

Chaffetz pointed to reports that Love asked employees to “scrub” emails before responding to a congressional records request and delete documents from a shared server. He was also accused of coaching an employee on what to say before during an interview with government investigators, according to the letter dated Feb. 14.

The Office of Inspector General has previously faulted the supervisory agent from Salt Lake City for accepting sold-out Burning Man tickets and having agents drive around his family during the Nevada event in 2015.

The investigators also found evidence he manipulated a hiring process so a friend could get a job at the Bureau of Land Management. The report released Jan. 30 was referred to higher-ups for possible disciplinary action.



Bureau of Land Management spokesman Derrick Henry said the agency takes allegations of misconduct seriously, but doesn’t comment on personnel matters. Messages left at publicly listed phone numbers for Love were also not immediately returned Friday.

Love, who oversaw the Bundy cattle roundup in 2014, is expected to be an important witness for the prosecution during a trial unfolding in Las Vegas for six men accused of illegally wielding weapons during the standoff. Defense attorneys pushing for the case to be dismissed say they should have previously been informed about the allegations against Love.

He was also the target of a federal lawsuit from the family of a southern Utah doctor, James Redd, who killed himself after he was arrested in a 2009 artifact looting investigation that marked an early skirmish in the struggle for control of public lands. The family said the Bureau of Land Management agents led by Love used excessive force when they arrested Redd at gunpoint.

That case was dismissed by an appeals court Monday after judges found the presence of agents in SWAT-like gear wasn’t unreasonable given the large volume of evidence and longstanding local opposition to federal control of public lands.

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