Knute Buehler Cheers Trump’s Pardon of Eastern Oregon Arsonist Duo: “They Are Good People, Not Terrorists”

Republican candidate for governor lines up with the right wing of his party on divisive federal lands issue.

State Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend) took to Twitter today to cheer President Donald J. Trump's pardon of Dwight and Steven Hammond, the ranchers convicted of arson on federal lands in 2015 and sentenced to five years each.

"Justice has been served for Dwight and Steven Hammond," Buehler writes. "They were treated unfairly and a pardon is the appropriate remedy. They are good people, not terrorists."

Here's Buehler's tweet:

Beuhler has staked out moderate positions in his candidacy so far, highlighting his pro-choice and pro-same sex marriage positions.

But his position on the Hammonds is unlikely to burnish those moderate credentials, given the feds' description of what the ranchers did.

A 2001 arson that was part of  the case against them, federal officials said, happened after "Steven Hammond and his hunting party illegally slaughtered several deer on BLM property."

The second fire, set during summer fire season in 2006, was set to save the Hammonds' winter animal feed.

"The fires burned onto public land and were seen by BLM firefighters camped nearby," a summary of the federal case says. "The firefighters took steps to ensure their safety and reported the arsons."

At the time of the 2015 convictions, U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams explained why the men were going to prison—albeit on a sentence that was a mandatory minimum penalty for setting public lands on fire.

"We all know the devastating effects that are caused by wildfires," Williams said in a statement. "Fires intentionally and illegally set on public lands, even those in a remote area, threaten property and residents and endanger firefighters called to battle the blaze."

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.