Two Democrats Ask Whether Trump Pardon Of Hammond Ranchers Was The Consequence Of An Alleged Bribe

Trump Pardon: Two Democrats on a Congressional committee have written to the Secretary of the Interior of the United States, requesting records that could reveal whether former President Donald Trump pardoned Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven Hammond, ranchers in eastern Oregon, in exchange for a campaign contribution from an Arizona real estate developer.

Two Democrats Ask Whether Trump Pardon Of Hammond Rancher

The head of the House Committee on Natural Resources and a subcommittee head wrote to U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Friday that information obtained from another inquiry suggested that real estate developer Michael Ingram used his “unique access” to high-ranking Trump administration officials to advocate for the Hammond pardons.

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According to the letter, Ingram’s executive assistant advocated for the pardon of the Hammonds in an email sent to a high-ranking official at the Department of Interior on May 25, 2018. The email linked to two stories on the case and an op-ed pushing for the pardons.

Oregon’s Republican U.S. Representative Greg Walden tweeted on July 1 that he had spoken with President Trump, who “is seriously considering” pardoning the Hammonds.

Ingram gave $10,000 to the super PAC America First Action, Inc. the following day.

According to the letter, America First Action, Inc. is the only “Official Pro-Trump Super PAC” and is “committed to supporting President Trump.”

Each Hammond was granted a pardon by Trump on July 10, 2018.

Two Democrats Ask Whether Trump Pardon Of Hammond Ranchers Was The Consequence Of An Alleged Bribe
Two Democrats Ask Whether Trump Pardon Of Hammond Ranchers Was The Consequence Of An Alleged Bribe

According to the letter, Ingram gave only one other $10,000 throughout the 2017-2018 off-presidential election season.

Committee chair Ral M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., and the subcommittee on oversight and investigations head Katie Porter, D-Calif., stated that the donation’s timing raises serious questions about a “possible case of bribery” and calls for additional inquiry.

The letter asks for any and all correspondence between Ingram, any White House staff, and attorneys who represented Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, including Portland attorney Lawrence Matasar and the Portland office of Ransom & Blackman.

Attorney Lanny J. Davis, who is representing Ingram, has refuted allegations of wrongdoing on his client’s part.

“I have no qualms about Mike Ingram’s ethics and honesty,” Davis, an attorney for Ingram and his El Dorado Development company, said.

A pardon was supported by many in the Oregon ranching community, including Mr. Ingram. However, allegations that he made a political contribution in exchange for that support are unfounded.

Also related to Ingram and the Trump administration, the committee reportedly sent its first-ever criminal referral to the Justice Department in May. The committee then brought up concerns about a clean water permit for an Ingram development project, the Villages at Vigneto, that former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt rescinded shortly after Ingram donated roughly $250,000 to the RNC and Trump’s reelection campaign.

Davis has also rejected the idea that Ingram is responsible for any misconduct.

Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven Hammond were released from a California federal prison on July 11, 2018, and arrived in Burns via private jet. They had been granted pardons by former President Trump.

By intentionally setting fire to publicly owned grazing areas, they were found guilty of arson and given obligatory minimum terms of five years. Both were found guilty of arson in 2001, and the son was found guilty of arson twice more between 2006 and 2008.

Attorney Matasar, who helped submit a petition to the White House to get the Hammonds’ sentences commuted, denied having any communication with Ingram.

The father and son returned to Burns in September 2018, nearly three years after demonstrators marched through the city in the heart of southeastern Oregon’s high desert to decry their probable court-ordered return to jail in January 2016. An armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge lasted for 41 days because of this case.

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When contacted on Monday, Susie Hammond replied that she was not familiar with the name Michael Ingram. Dwight Hammond Jr., she explained, was “out feeding cows” and so not at home.

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