Every president of the United States is faced with critical decisions. Nominating individuals to serve in government is among the most consequential. In order to be confirmed and to be effective, nominees must gain the trust of the American people. President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violates that trust.
When it comes to impacting policies related to our public lands, the BLM director has wide authority. The director has capacity to make unilateral decisions about how lands are used and managed. The BLM director also leads several thousand employees, including law enforcement officers, many of whom have given years of dedicated service to the Bureau.
For 28 years, I was one such public servant. I served as a federal law enforcement officer with USDA Forest Service as a Special Agent criminal investigator. Before that, I served our country in the Army during the Vietnam War. I know firsthand the importance of the rule of law. Respect for the law must permeate at all ranks within an organization—especially at the top.
Tracy Stone-Manning, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Director of the Bureau of Land Management, speaks during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in Washington on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
(Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call)
Earlier this year, President Biden nominated Tracy Stone-Manning to be director of the BLM and her contentious nomination now awaits a confirmation vote in the Senate. Senators should carefully consider Stone-Manning’s history of criminal behavior and disregard for the laws of our country before casting their votes.
Throughout her adult life, Tracy Stone-Manning has shown contempt for law enforcement and she colluded with dangerous extremists.
It is now widely known that Stone-Manning collaborated with a group of eco-terrorists who spiked trees in the Post Office Timber Sale in Idaho during the spring of 1989. Tree-spiking is a dangerous and illegal practice of hammering a piece of metal into the trunk of a tree in order to sabotage a logger’s blade and safety. She edited, typed and mailed a threatening letter to the Forest Service on behalf of the tree-spikers. I feel an obligation to come forward because I was the agent charged with investigating this crime and Stone-Manning’s involvement.
In 1993, Stone-Manning received a target letter from a federal grand jury after the girlfriend of one of the suspects came forward to the FBI and identified those involved in the crime. Soon after Stone-Manning discovered she could be charged with a crime, she hired an attorney, negotiated a deal with the federal prosecutor, and received immunity for her testimony against her friends. But just because she cut a deal, does not mean she didn’t violate federal felony laws. In this case, she violated several.
Tracy Stone-Manning listens during a confirmation hearing for her to be the director of the Bureau of Land Management, during a hearing of the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Washington.
By typing the threatening letter to the Forest Service, she was aiding and abetting those who committed an offense against the United States. When she hid her knowledge of the crime for three years and was intentionally obstructive while under investigation, she made herself an accessory after the fact.
By not immediately reporting the crime or divulging what she knew about who was involved, she concealed a felony. When she planned to mail the threatening letter to the Forest Service she involved herself in a conspiracy against the United States. It was also a felony to send the letter through the U.S. Postal Service.
Tracy Stone-Manning listens during a confirmation hearing for her to be the director of the Bureau of Land Management, during a hearing of the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The Senate should review the records of the grand jury investigation into these crimes. Senators should also review the immunity agreement to determine what charges Stone-Manning faced.
Some of Stone-Manning’s defenders claim that she should be forgiven for actions she took decades ago. Those same folks overlook the most recent crime Stone-Manning committed by willfully falsifying, concealing, and covering up her past involvement in these crimes when questioned by the Senate.
Lying to the United States Senate is a crime. If she is comfortable lying to the federal government—and the American people—under penalty of perjury, how can we trust her to lead a powerful bureaucracy?
Throughout her adult life, Tracy Stone-Manning has consistently demonstrated her disregard for the laws of our country—laws designed to protect each and every one of us. She has shown contempt for law enforcement and she colluded with dangerous extremists.
Senators should consider the implications of confirming someone who has violated several federal laws. The employees at the Bureau of Land Management deserve honest leadership. The American people should have confidence that the individual in charge of this agency will follow the law, even when the law may be at odds with personal convictions. Tracy Stone-Manning is not that individual.
Michael Merkley served as a Special Agent criminal investigator for the USDA Forest Service.