Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF)

MSLF Was Founded In Support Of The Sagebrush Rebellion And Many Of Its Employees Would Go On To Work At Reagan’s Interior Department

The Mountain States Legal Foundation Was Founded By James Watt, Who Would Be Reagan’s First Interior Secretary

Former Reagan Interior Secretary James Watt Founded the Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) in 1977. “One result was a small office opened here in 1977 by James G. Watt, a conservative Wyoming lawyer. As President Reagan’s first Secretary of the Interior, Mr. Watt became a leading opponent of the environmental conservation movement specifically and liberals in general. The law office he founded, the Mountain States Legal Foundation,  has grown into a major voice for a conservative free-enterprise interpretation of the Constitution.” [New York Times07/28/85]

  • A MSLF Executive Vice President Said She Did Not Mind ”Being Called A Right-Wing Organization.” ”‘I don’t mind us being called a right-wing organization,’ Beverly A. Kinard, the foundation’s executive vice president, said in an interview. ‘There have always been plenty of law groups like Ralph Nader’s, the environmentalists, the consumers, but there were really none that espoused our point of view.’” [New York Times07/28/85]
  • MSLF Joined Three Other Regional Conservative Law Groups To Form An Umbrella Group, The National Legal Center For The Public Interest. “Besides Mountain States, three other regional conservative law groups were founded: the Midwestern Legal Foundation, the Gulf and Great Plains Legal Foundation and the Capital Legal Foundation in Washington. The four have formed a national umbrella group, the National Legal Center for the Public Interest. A fifth group, the Pacific Legal Foundation, predates all these but does not belong to the coalition.” [New York Times07/28/85]

MSLF Would Begin With the Sagebrush Rebellion And Move Onto Other Issues Including Affirmative Action

MSLF Began With The “Sagebrush Rebellion” And Moved Onto To Questions Of Constitutional Law. “From the Mountain States Legal Foundation’s inception in support of what it called a ‘’sagebrush rebellion’’ by Western land, mining and water interests against Federal policies, the foundation has moved into broad questions of constitutional law, just as many of its aggressive young lawyers have moved on to join the Reagan Administration.” [New York Times07/28/85]

  • MSLF Lawyers Have Undertaken Several Challenges To Programs Including Affirmative Action And Federal Regulation Of Private Enterprise. “Lawyers for the foundation have undertaken a number of court challenges to such programs as affirmative action, extension of the ratification period for the proposed Federal equal rights amendment and Federal regulation of private enterprise of all sorts.” [New York Times07/28/85]
  • MSLF Challenged The Constitutionality Of A Voluntary Affirmative Action Teacher Hiring Program In Jackson, Michigan. “Recently the Supreme Court agreed to hear the foundation’s challenge to the constitutionality of a voluntary affirmative action program in teacher hiring in Jackson, Mich., that lawyers on both sides of the issue say could have far-reaching effects on such policies if the Court upholds the foundation’s view. The plaintiffs have lost all the rounds so far.” [New York Times07/28/85]
  • MSLF Took Up Case After Case Was Dismissed In Federal District Court. “Mountain States took up the case for the teachers after their suit was dismissed in Federal District Court. The dismissal was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. To Mountain States, the school district’s program and the absence of any judicial finding of discrimination represented a red flag.” [New York Times07/28/85]
  • MSLF Attorney Claimed “If This System Is Allowed To Stand, It WIll Institutionalize Discrimination For Discrimination’s Sake. ”’If this system is allowed to stand, it will institutionalize discrimination for discrimination’s sake,’’ said Diane L. Vaksdal, one of the foundation’s five lawyers. ‘’What they’re saying is that black children can’t learn from white teachers. That’s like saying you or I couldn’t learn from Gandhi or Martin Luther King.’’ [New York Times07/28/85]

MSLF Was Created To Give A “Public-Interest Coloration” To Its Cases

MSLF Was Created In Part To “Provide A Public-Coloration To Its Case.” “Besides giving legal voice to conservative interpretations of the law, Mountain States was created partly to provide a public-interest coloration to its cases, just as the American Civil Liberties Union and other liberal groups have done for years. ‘Companies have this black hat on when they go into court,’ [MSLF Executive Vice President Beverly] Kinard said, ‘that they’re only interested in money. And on either side of them is Ralph Nader or the Sierra Club, and of course they’re only trying to save mankind. That perception tends to make a very serious imbalance in the way courts look at cases that we try to correct by saying that we represent a public-interest view, too.’” [New York Times07/28/85]

The MSLF Board Of Directors Have Ties To Ranching, Oil and Gas and Utilities. “The critics note that Mountain States’ board of directors, who must approve any cases it takes, are all engaged in the traditional businesses of the West: ranching, oil and gas, mining and utilities.” [New York Times07/28/85]

MSLF Executive Vice President Beverly Kinard Said Foundation Would Be “In Much Better Shape” If It Could Keep Its Attorneys From Going To Washington. ”In fact, if we could keep our lawyers from going to Washington,” Mrs. Kinard said, ”we’d be in much better shape.” [New York Times07/28/85]

MSLF Said To Specialize “The David Versus Goliath Government Cases.” After the National Marine Fisheries Service released a biological opinion calling for the drawing down the Dworshak Reservoir, MSLF was hired by the local Chamber of Commerce.  “The Orofino Chamber of Commerce and its allies have hired a group founded by former Interior Secretary James Watt to help wage a court battle against the federal government’s plan to draw down Dworshak Reservoir by as much as 80 feet this summer. ‘This is along the type of work that they specialize in, the David versus Goliath government cases,’’ Chamber Executive Director James Grunke said about the Mountain States Legal Foundation of Denver, Colo.” [Lewiston Morning Tribune07/07/95]

MSLF Is Headquartered In Denver, Colorado. “Pendley has been the firm’s president and chief lawyer for 18 years. His staff includes about a half-dozen other lawyers, headquartered in a small office park in suburban Denver, across from an insurance agency, a dentist and Pilates Plus. An American flag on a tall pole marks the building’s entrance, with a plaque that says “Old Glory.” [High Country News12/10/07]

MSLF Has Received Funding From Joseph Coors And Koch-Related Entities

Mountain States Legal Foundation Has Financial Ties To the Kochs And Has Represented A Wide Range Of Clients In A Variety Of Areas

Mountain States Legal Foundation Has Received Funds From The Koch-Linked Donors Trust And Was Initially Headed By Former Interior Secretary James Watt. “Pendley’s ties to the most conservative networks run deep. Pendley’s Mountain States Legal Foundation, founded in 1977 and initially run by Reagan’s controversial first Interior Secretary James G. Watt, has received backing from ultraconservative groups and individuals such as the Koch-linked Donors Trust and beer tycoon Joseph Coors.” [Washington Post07/31/19]

MSLF Funding Also Includes Colorado Oil Company Families, Ranching Operations And Loggers

MSLF Donors Include Colorado Oil Company Families, Ranching Operations And Loggers. “Inside the headquarters there are more plaques engraved with names: Rocky Mountain family oil companies (Yates, Kennedy, McMurry, Anschutz, Dugan), notable ranching operations (Page Land and Cattle Co.), loggers and an aircraft-tour company. They’re some of the donors who support Mountain States’ work, most of which is done on a pro bono basis — for free, or a relatively small cost to clients.” [High Country News12/10/07]

MSLF’s Original Funding Came From Joseph Coors

MSLF’s Original Funding Came From Joseph Coors, Of The Coors Brewing Family, “A Champion Of Conservative Causes.” “Much of the group’s original money came from Joseph Coors of the Coors brewing family, a champion of conservative causes.” [New York Times07/28/85]

Both MSLF And The Heritage Foundation Were Founded By Joseph Coors.“Coors founded the Mountain States Legal Foundation in 1976 to bring lawsuits designed to enrich giant corporations, limit civil rights and attack unions, homosexuals and minorities. He also founded the right-wing Heritage Foundation to provide a philosophical underpinning for the anti-environmental movement.” [The Independent12/04/03]

Ronald Reagan’s Victory Gave Heritage And MSLF “Immeasurable Clout.” “From its conception, the Heritage Foundation and its neoconservative cronies urged followers to “strangle the environmental movement,”\’ which Heritage named “the greatest single threat to the American economy’. Ronald Reagan’s victory gave the Heritage Foundation and the Mountain States Legal Foundation immeasurable clout. Heritage became known as Reagan’s “shadow government” and its 2,000-page manifesto, ‘Mandate for Change,’ became a blueprint for his administration.” [The Independent12/04/03]

  • Coors Picks Included MSLF President James Watt To Become Interior Secretary. “Coors handpicked his Colorado associates: Anne Gorsuch became the EPA administrator; her husband, Robert Burford, a cattle baron who had vowed to destroy the Bureau of Land Management, was selected to head that very agency. Most notoriously, Coors chose James Watt, the president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, as the Secretary of the Interior.” [The Independent12/04/03]
    • Watt Cited The Apocalypse As To Why He Was Giving Away Lands. “Watt was a proponent of ‘dominion theology,’ an authoritarian Christian heresy that advocates man’s duty to ‘subdue’ nature. His deep faith in laissez-faire capitalism and apocalyptic Christianity led Watt to set about dismantling his department and distributing its assets rather than managing them for future generations. During a Senate hearing, he cited the approaching Apocalypse to explain why he was giving away America’s sacred places at fire-sale prices: ‘I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns.” [The Independent12/04/03]

Numerous MSLF Officials Would Go On To Work In The Reagan Administration

The Reagan Administration Recruited A Number Of MSLF Officials, Beginning With James Watt. “Whatever its standing, Mountain States has impressed the Reagan Administration, which has recruited a number of its officials, starting with [James] Watt.” [New York Times07/28/85]

  • Former Reagan Solicitor General, Rex Lee, Was On The MSLF Board Of Litigation. “Rex E. Lee, the former Solicitor General, was on the Mountain States board of litigation.” [New York Times07/28/85]
  • Roger Marzulla, Former MSLF President Moved To The Justice Department’s Land And Natural Resources Division. “Roger J. Marzulla, who succeeded Mr. Watt as Mountain States president, is now in the Justice Department’s land and natural resources division.” [New York Times07/28/85]
  • John Norton, A MSLF Board Director Became An Assistant To The Secretary oF Agriculture. “John Norton, a member of the foundation’s board of directors from Arizona, is now an assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture.” [New York Times07/28/85]

MSLF Has Represented Numerous Clients In Extractive Industries

MSLF Represented Clients That Had Mining Claims On Lands That Had Been Reopened By The Bureau Of Land Management But Were Put On Hold By A Court Ruling

MSLF Appealed A Decision That Upheld A Preliminary Injunction That Barred The Bureau Of Land Management From Revoking Withdrawals Or Terminating Classifications Of Public Lands Until Ruling. “The Mountain States Legal Foundation will appeal a decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upholding a preliminary injunction that bars the Bureau of Land Management from revoking withdrawals or from terminating classifications of public lands until the District Court rules on the merits of the case.” [Inside Energy/with Federal Lands, 12/21/87]

  • The National Wildlife Federation Filed A Suit Against BLM After The Agency Began Reviewing Existing Withdrawals To See If Original Restrictions Were Being Served. “A withdrawal withholds land from one or more of the general land and mineral disposal laws, including the 1872 Mining law and the Geothermal Leasing Act. Classifications designate public lands for retention and frequently segregate the lands from various disposal laws. [National Wildlife Federation] filed suit against BLM in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the agency began reviewing existing classifications and withdrawals to see if the original purposes of the restrictions were being served.” [Inside Energy/with Federal Lands, 12/21/87]
  • BLM’s Redirection Of Attention Opened Significant Amounts of Public Land Previously Restricted. “The agency directed priority attention be paid to terminations of classifications that segregated lands from mining and mineral leasing, and subsequently terminated classifications for about 160-million acres and revoked withdrawals covering 20-million acres. As a result, significant amounts of public land were opened to many previously restricted uses.” [Inside Energy/with Federal Lands, 12/21/87]
  • MSLF Represented Clients With Mining Claims On The Reopened Lands That Have Been Put On Hold Since The Injunction Was Issued. “The Mountain States Legal Foundation represents clients with mining claims on the lands that were reopened to public use by BLM but that have been put on hold since the preliminary injunction was issued.” [Inside Energy/with Federal Lands, 12/21/87]

MSLF Represented Clients That Had Mining Claims On Lands That Had Been Reopened By The Bureau Of Land Management But Were Put On Hold By A Court Ruling

MSLF Compiled A “Multiple Use Handbook” To Be Used In Interactions With The Public, Media And Interest Groups. “MOUNTAIN STATES LEGAL FOUNDATION, A PUBLIC INTEREST INSTITUTE, wants to ensure that advocates of multiple use of public lands are not unarmed in verbal battles with conservation interests. The conservative foundation, based in Denver, is compiling a ‘Multiple Use Handbook’ listing facts and figures on multiple use activity to be used in ‘dealings with the public, interested groups and members of the media.” [Inside Energy/with Federal Lands, 03/04/91]

  • Then-MSLF President William Perry Pendley Claimed “Multiple Use” Was “Under Attack” By Those Who Did Not Understand. “Perry Pendley, the foundation’s president, said, ‘Multiple use is under attack by those who sim-ply don’t understand the wise use of our natural resources. It is time that the friends of multiple-use — timbermen and women, cattle ranchers, woolgrowers, oil and gas prospectors, miners, off-highway-vehicle enthusiasts, skiers, hunters and millions of others — have the facts and figures they need to refute the lies and report the truth.’” [Inside Energy/with Federal Lands, 03/04/91]

MSLF Filed Lawsuits Against The Clinton Administration Over The Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument

MSLF Filed A Lawsuit Against The Clinton Administration In October 1996 Regarding The Clinton Designation Of the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument In Utah. “A SUIT OVER THE GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENT in Utah has been filed by the Western States Coalition and the Mountain States Legal Foundation.  Filed in U.S. District Court in Utah Oct. 29, the lawsuit challenges President Clinton’s designation of the 1.7-million-acre monument in Utah’s red-rock country on Sept. 18. The groups asked the court to enjoin the federal government from restricting land use in southern Utah as a result of the monument’s designation. Named in the suit (Civil No. 2:96CV0924G) were Clinton, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and the U.S. government. The groups claimed their members would suffer harm from potential restrictions on new mining claims and on access to existing claims, from limits on prospecting, as well as from other effects on camping, fishing, hunting and recreation.” [Inside Energy/with Federal Lands, 11/18/96]

MSLF Filed A Lawsuit Seeking To Overturn Five Monument Designations By Then-President Bill Clinton. Two land-use groups are challenging five new national monuments in federal court, claiming President Clinton overstepped his authority by putting new restrictions on 1.5 million acres in Arizona, Colorado, Oregon and Washington state. The Mountain States Legal Foundation and the BlueRibbon Coalition filed a lawsuit in federal court here Tuesday seeking to overturn the declarations. The monuments are among 10 Clinton has designated this year on 4 million acres the government already owned. Mining, logging, oil drilling and off-road vehicle use are banned or restricted in the national monuments. [Associated Press, 08/30/00]

Pendley Claimed “The President Doesn’t Have The Authority To Do What’s Done.” “’The bad thing is, the president did it unilaterally,” said William Perry Pendley of the foundation, a conservative group that earlier filed a pending lawsuit challenging Clinton’s 1996 creation of a national monument in Utah. ‘The bottom line is, the president doesn’t have the authority to do what he’s done. Only Congress does.’” [Associated Press, 08/30/00]

  • Pendley Argued That Antiquities Act Could Not Be Used To Protect Features That Are Not Historic, Archeological Or Scientific Sites. “Pendley’s group is trying to do that through the courts, arguing that Clinton violated the Antiquities Act’s requirement that the area set aside be as small as possible. Pendley also argues that Clinton cannot use the act to protect features that are not historic, archaeological or scientific sites.” [Associated Press, 08/30/00]
  • Pendley Claimed Clinton Had “No Authority” To Protect Areas “Because They Are Pretty.” “‘He has no authority to close these areas because they are pretty, because they have endangered species habitat, because they have wild and scenic rivers or because they have 800-year-old trees,” Pendley said.” [Associated Press, 08/30/00]

Lawsuit Was Dismissed By U.S. District Court.  “A federal judge on Thursday upheld President Clinton’s decision to protect federal land in four Western states, saying Clinton acted properly under a 1906 law when he created six new national monuments. Clinton’s use of the Antiquities Act, which allows presidents to act without congressional approval to safeguard objects of historic and scientific interest, had led to a legal fight by Mountain States Legal Defense Fund of Denver. The conservative organization challenged the constitutionality of the law and contended that Clinton overstepped his authority when he created monuments in Arizona, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman dismissed the lawsuit Thursday, finding that Clinton had acted appropriately under power legally granted by Congress.” [The Associated Press State & Local Wire, 11/15/01]

  • Ruling Allowed The Cascades-Siskiyou National Monument, The Handford Reach, The Canyons Of The Ancients In Colorado And The Grand Canyon-parashant, Ironwood Forest And Sonoran Desert National Monuments Stand. “That let stand Clinton’s action regarding the Cascades-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon, the Handford Reach in Washington, the Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado and the Grand Canyon-Parashant, Ironwood Forest and Sonoran Desert national monuments in Arizona.”  [The Associated Press State & Local Wire, 11/15/01]
  • Pendley Said MSLF Would Appeal And “We Believe The Court Needs To Go Further.” William Perry Pendley, president and chief legal officer for the Mountain States Legal Foundation, said Friedman gave too much deference to the president’s judgment. Pendley said he planned to appeal. ‘We’re talking about millions of acres of land that, with a stroke of a pen, the president set aside,’ Pendley said. ‘We believe the court needs to go further and say, ‘Wait a second. Are these areas truly scientific? Are they historic? Is this the smallest area necessary to protect the resource?’” [The Associated Press State & Local Wire, 11/15/01]

MSLF Would Appeal Clinton’s Monuments Designations In September 2002. “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard arguments last week from groups over a lower court ruling that dismissed a lawsuit against President Clinton for six monument designations he made in 2000 and 2001. The court did not rule on the case, but is expected to do so in the next three months. Colorado-based Mountain States Legal Foundation,  which brought the suit that was dismissed in November 2001 by Judge Paul Friedman of the U.S. District Court in Washington, claims the designations were illegal and unconstitutional. The foundation’s challenge is centered on Clinton’s use of the 1906 Antiquities Act, which allows the president to reserve federal land for a monument with only one restriction: the area must be ”confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.” [Inside Energy/with Federal Lands, 09/09/02]

  • Clinton’s Monuments Designations Would Be Upheld. “A federal appeals court upheld former President Clinton’s orders protecting 2 million acres of federal land in five Western states through creation of national monuments. In a ruling Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed lower-court rulings that dismissed challenges to Clinton’s designation of the monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act. The law allows presidents to act without congressional approval to safeguard objects of historic and scientific interest. The monuments affected are the Grand Canyon-Parashant, Ironwood Forest and Sonoran Desert national monuments in Arizona; Giant Sequoia National Monument in California; the Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado; the Cascades-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon; and the Hanford Reach in Washington. Timber interests, recreation groups and Tulare County, Calif., challenged the Giant Sequoia monument in that state. The Mountain States Legal Foundation of Denver, a conservative public interest law firm, led the legal fight against the monuments in the other states. [Associated Press, 10/19/02]

MSLF Asked For A “Full-Court Review” Of Ruling. “Advocates of pro-development property rights in the West on Wednesday requested a full-court review of an environmentally friendly ruling that upheld former President Bill Clinton’s designation of six national monuments during the waning days of his administration. While critics found it galling that the outgoing president was able to place 2 million acres of federal lands off limits to development with the stroke of a pen, they were unable to overturn his actions in their previous foray into federal court. Last month, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington upheld Clinton’s proclamations under the 1906 Antiquities Act. But the Mountain States Legal Foundation asked the full court to take another look at the ruling, which the plaintiffs complained was steeped in legal technicalities and not reflective of the law’s requirements.” [United Press International11/27/02]

  • Pendley Claimed The Decision “Ignores The Facts And Returns Jurisprudence To The Days When Judges Wore Wigs And Waistcoats.” “’The panel’s decision ignores the facts and returns jurisprudence to the days when judges wore wigs and waistcoats,’ complained William Perry Pendley, the head of the Denver foundation. ‘Under its own and the Supreme Court’s decisions, it may not dismiss this case.’ The plaintiffs argued that Clinton’s proclamations overstepped the bounds of the Antiquities Act, enacted during President Theodore Roosevelt’s administration at the urging of famed naturalist John Muir. They argued that the act restricts the president to preserving only areas of clear scientific or historical interest, and that preserving other areas constituted formation of a national park, which was a matter for Congress to decide. The court’s panel, however, decided on Oct. 18 that the Mountain States Legal Foundation did not present any evidence that a review of Clinton’s actions was warranted and they upheld a lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit.” [United Press International11/27/02]

MSLF Filed A Lawsuit Challenging New Bonding Regulations That Governed Hard Rock Mining Activities

The Northwest Mining Association Challenged Interior’s New Bonding Regulations On Hard Rock Mining Activities, Which Were Found To Be Invalid. The Northwest Mining Association (NWMA) prevailed in federal court over Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on May 13, 1998. NWMA had challenged Babbitt’s new bonding regulations governing hard rock mining activities on BLM administered land in a lawsuit filed on May 12, 1997. The rules, which were adopted at the direction of Secretary Babbitt on February 28, 1997, more than five and one-half years after the public comment period closed, were declared invalid in a decision by Judge June L. Green of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Judge Green granted NWMA’s Motion for Summary Judgement against the BLM and remanded the mining rules back to the BLM after she found that Babbitt had violated federal law. [Business Wire, 05/20/98]

  • William Perry Pendley, Then MSLF’s President And Chief Legal Officer, Said The Clinton Administration “Earned The Reproach It Deserves.” “The Clinton Administration’s attitude in this case, ‘We’re the government, we can do anything we want, and no one can say otherwise,’ earned the reproach it deserved,’ said William Perry Pendley, president and chief legal officer of Mountain States Legal Foundation, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of the Northwest Mining Association.” [Business Wire, 05/20/98]

MSLF And Pendley Sued To Overturn Montana’s Stream Access Law 

MSLF Filed A Lawsuit To Strike Down Montana’s Stream Access Law, Which Landowners Claimed Deprived Them Of Privacy and Income. “Three Montana landowners, backed by the Mountain States Legal Foundation, have filed a federal lawsuit aimed at striking down Montana’s Stream Access law.The landowners and the Denver law firm filed suit on May 31, alleging that the law violates rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, according to a foundation news release. No one at the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks had seen the lawsuit as of Monday afternoon. The release said Harvey and Doris Madison of Absarokee, who own property on the Stillwater River; Charles and Elena d’Autremont of Alder, property owners on the Ruby River; and Harrison Saunders of Ennis, who owns property on the O’Dell Creek, a tributary of the Madison River, filed the suit. They charge that the Stream Access Law deprives them of their privacy, denies them income for the use of their property while enriching others who use their property, and subjects their property to abuse and misuse, including harassing and disturbing livestock and residents, leaving garbage and building fires.” [Associated Press, 06/07/00]

  • Pendley Claimed The Montana Stream Access Law Turned “Property Into Public Parks.” “One of the constitutional hallmarks of private property ownership, regardless of how large or small that property may be, is the right to exclude others,’ said William Perry Pendley of the Mountain States Legal Foundation. ‘The Montana Stream Access Law denies that constitutional right to property owners along non-navigable streams, turning their property into public parks. As a result, those property owners pay taxes on and maintain their property, but all others may use that property as if it were their own.’” [Associated Press, 06/07/00]

MSLF Set Up A Hotline For Reporting “Eco Sabotage” 

The Mountain States Legal Foundation Set Up A Hotline For Reports For Eco Sabotage. In April 1990, the Heritage Foundation released a report that discussed the concept of “ecotage” where activists deliberately damaged or destroyed property, infrastructure, etc. in attempts to stall or halt extractive industries. “Similarly, the Mountain States Legal Foundation,  based in Denver, Colorado, established a ecotage hotline last year. In the first two months of hotline operation, Foundation President William Perry Pendley received reports of ecotage from California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Mountain States also established a clearinghouse to file civil damage actions against saboteurs and to assist the government in prosecuting violators. n20 Mountain States also established a clearinghouse to file civil damage actions against saboteurs and to assist the government in prosecuting violators.” [Heritage Foundation Reports, 04/12/90]

MSLF Joined Ranchers, Lodgers, Miners And Others To Prevent An Earth First! Gathering 

MSLF Joined A Group of Ranchers, Lodgers, Miners And Others To Prevent An Earth First! Gathering. “U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell rejected arguments by the Denver-based Mountain States Legal Foundation and 77 other groups that want to prevent the gathering, including ranchers, loggers, miners, and off-road vehicle users. ‘We are incredibly disappointed,’ William Perry Pendley,  the foundation’s president and chief legal officer, said in a telephone interview. ‘We believe the court must take a group like Earth First! at its word as to the reason it exists and what it will do to achieve its objectives,’ Pendley said. ‘What Earth First! has said is it will use violence and terrorism to achieve its objectives to drive people off the public lands of the West.” [Associated Press, 07/05/90]

MSLF Also Took On Cases Involving Accessibility, Affirmative Action And Unions

MSLF Represented Companies That Opposed A Program That Encouraged The Formation And Growth Of Women And Minority-Owned Businesses

MSLF Represented Two Companies That Sued Over Denver, Colorado’s Program To Encourage The Formation And Growth Of Women And Minority-Owned Firms. “The first is a challenge to the local ordinance filed by Concrete Works of Colorado, which has been represented by William Perry Pendley and Todd Welch of the Mountain States Legal Foundation of Denver. That case is in U.S. District Court. A recent decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the case must go to trial so that Concrete Works may be allowed to show that there is no “strong basis in evidence” to support Denver’s affirmative-action legislation. Concrete Works has contended that Denver has not shown a history of discrimination against minority-owned firms that would be a necessary first step to the creation of a race-based remedial contracting program. The second, and even more important, case concerns a Colorado Springs company, Adarand Constructors Inc. Adarand has sued the U.S. Department of Transportation, again represented by the Mountain States Legal Foundation, over its minority contracting program. The company lost at the district court and circuit court levels, but in what must be counted a major surprise, last September the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review it.” [The Denver Post, 11/20/94]

  • Pendley Called Race-Based Decisions “Unacceptable Except Under The Most Extreme Circumstances.” “The Adarand case is being closely watched by advocates for women and minorities, who fear an anti-affirmative-action ruling could destroy hundreds of programs designed to atone for a history of discrimination. Conservatives hope a reopening of the issue will end what they say has evolved into discrimination against whites. [Adarand Constructors, Inc. owner Randy] Pesch and his attorneys at the Denver-based Mountain States Legal Foundation say special treatment for minorities violates the Constitution. “’In a free society, decisions based on race are unacceptable except under the most extreme circumstances,’ said Pesch’s attorney, William Perry Pendley.” [States News Service, 01/10/95]
  • Pendley Claimed The Government Gave Out “$10,000 Bonuses For Contractors To Make Decisions Based On Race.”  “You have the government giving out $10,000 bonuses for contractors to make decisions based on race,” said William Perry Pendley,  president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, which is representing Pech. ‘We’re hoping the Supreme Court will say now is a good time for this to stop.’” [Chicago Tribune03/19/95]

MSLF Wanted To Appeal After Losing In The 10th U.S. Circuit Court Of Appeals. “Race-based affirmative action programs are constitutional if narrowly applied to specific inequities, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. The ruling Thursday by a three-judge panel came in the case of Adarand Contractors Inc., a Colorado Springs company that sued the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1989 when it lost a bid to install highway guardrails. The case has bounced back and forth for years between federal trial courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. Denver-based Mountain States Legal Foundation,  which represents Adarand owner Randy Pech, said it wants to appeal the decision.” [The Associated Press State & Local Wire, 09/29/00]

MSLF Filed A Lawsuit Against A School District For Allegedly Misusing Public Resources To Support Political Agendas

MSLF Filed A Lawsuit Accusing A School District “Improperly Using Public Resources To Support Political Agendas of Schoolteacher Unions.” “In a federal lawsuit filed yesterday, the Mountain States Legal Foundation accused the Cherry Creek School District of improperly using public resources to support the political agendas of schoolteacher unions. And the conservative-oriented public interest foundation wants the practice stopped. The foundation, which has asked for a preliminary injunction, claims that Cherry Creek Schools are allowing taxpayers’ money, public equipment, facilities, materials and employees to be used to help collect money for political action committees of the Colorado Education Association and the Cherry Creek Education Association. [Denver Post, 03/05/94]

MSLF Joined An Amicus Brief Regarding Usage Of Union Dues In Political Campaigns

MSLF Joined An Amicus Brief On Limiting Use Of Union Dues In Political Campaigns. If Individual Members Don’t Approve. “The group also joined an amicus brief on limiting the use of union dues in political campaigns if individual members don’t approve.” [Washington Post07/31/19]

MSLF Represented A Home Developer And Homebuilders Association Challenging A “Visibility” Ordinance In Pima County, Arizona

A Home Developer And His Association Challenged A Local Arizona Ordinance That Required “Visitability” For “Physically Challenged Individuals.” A Pima County, Ariz. ordinance that requires that all new homes be built to ensure “visitability” by physically challenged individuals was challenged in a hearing today in federal court in Tucson. After filing their lawsuit last Friday, a custom home developer and his trade association returned to court asking that Pima County be barred from enforcing the ordinance, which is scheduled to go into effect tomorrow. David A. Garber and the Southern Arizona Homebuilders Association charge that the ordinance violates their constitutional rights and Arizona law. [U.S. Newswire, 10/07/02]

  • Pendley Claimed The Rights For Owning, Usage, Exclusion Of Others, And The Rights Of Association Were All Guaranteed By The U.S. Constitution. “The right to own and to decide how to use one’s property, the right to exclude others from that property, the right to associate with whom one pleases, and the right not to associate with those from whom one wishes to disassociate are all rights guaranteed by our Constitution,” said William Perry Pendley, of Mountain States Legal Foundation,  which represents Garber and the Association.” [U.S. Newswire, 10/07/02]
  • Pendley Claimed The Ordinance Added “Unnecessary Cost.” “Pima County’s ordinance not only adds unnecessary cost to the construction of new homes, not only has nothing to do with electric, fire, or mechanical codes, not only makes homes built pursuant to it incapable of being sold, the ordinance is unconstitutional. We believe Pima County will be barred from enforcing its ordinance and that it will be struck down.” [U.S. Newswire, 10/07/02]

MSLF Offered To Sue On Behalf Of The Home Developers. “An attorney for the Colorado-based Mountain States Legal Foundation said the organization, founded by former Secretary of the Interior James Watt in 1976, heard about the case and offered to sue on behalf of the home builders and Garber. ‘We have a number of members of the foundation in Arizona,’ William Perry Pendley, foundation president and chief legal office, said yesterday.” [Tucson Citizen, 10/09/02]

Former MSLF President William Perry Pendley Gave Numerous Speeches To Special Interest Groups During His Tenure

MSLF President William Perry Pendley Claimed There Was A “Reexamination of Environmental Issues In Speech To The Independent Petroleum Association

Pendley Claimed There Was A Groundswell Of Support Of Private Property Rights Due To A “Reexamination Of Environmental Issues” In A Speech To the Independent Petroleum Association Of America. “A groundswell in support of private property rights is sweeping the country as part of Americans’ reexamination of environmental issues, William Perry Pendley, president and chief legal officer of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, told the Independent Petroleum Assn. of America last week.” [Inside Energy, 11/27/95]

  • Pendley Claimed Property Owners Were “Fed Up With Questionable Enforcement Of Endangered Species Protections.” Property owners are fed up with questionable enforcement of endangered species protections, Perry said, and he described a situation in Texas where landowners were stunned by the restrictions that accompanied designation of numerous counties as critical habitat for the golden-cheeked warbler. ‘That’s why [former Texas Gov.] Ann Richards is hawking Doritos today,’’ Pendley said. ‘’For the first time, the American people have begun to question the fundamental assumptions of the environmental movement.” [Inside Energy, 11/27/95]

MSLF President William Perry Pendley Said “We Are All Environmentalists, Seeking Balance” To The Nebraska Cattlemen And Cattlewomen

Pendley Claimed “We Are All Environmentalists, Seeking Balance” In Address To The Nebraska Cattlemen And Cattlewomen Convention. “We are all environmentalists, seeking balance,” said William Perry Pendley of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a conservative, nonprofit legal center that often sues the government on natural resource and environmental issues. ‘Unfortunately, too many people don’t really understand what makes their community-run.’ Pendley addressed a session of the annual convention of the Nebraska Cattlemen and Cattlewomen in Omaha Monday.” [Omaha World Herald, 11/28/95]

Pendley Said Results Of 1994 Midterm Elections Caused People To Rethink Environmental Issues

Pendley Claimed Republicans Regaining Control Of Congress After 1994 Midterm Elections Sent A “New Environmental Message.” “‘There is a new environmental message in this country, although it is now very clear that President Clinton either hasn’t heard it, or believes he can ignore it.’ That was one of the messages delivered today by William Perry Pendley, president and chief legal officer for the Mountain States Legal Foundation  in Denver, a public service, non-profit law firm which takes on property rights cases for people who can’t afford representation. Addressing a gathering of the 101st annual convention of the Northwest Mining Association, Pendley said last year’s midterm election which gave Republicans control of both houses of Congress marked a watershed in how Americans view the effects of environmental law on personal and property rights.” [Business Wire, 12/07/95]

  • Pendley Claimed People Were Questioning Environmental Assumptions. “Pendley said there are three main reasons why Americans are beginning to resist how environmental issues are handled. People are beginning to question basic environmental assumptions such as global warming, for example. They understand better that global warming is still largely theoretical and that the scientific method has been comprised to accommodate politics.” [Business Wire, 12/07/95]
  • Pendley Said “Americans Don’t Like The Vision Environmentalists Have Of The Future.” “Also, ‘Americans don’t like the vision environmentalists have of the future,’ in which North America is reserved for plants and animals, but not for human beings. He said the 1994 forest fires which swept the West were defended by environmentalists even though firefighters were killed, and homes were destroyed. ‘Most Americans did not think the fires were a good thing,’ said Pendley. ‘Nor did the tiny communities that were threatened with fiery devastation. It’s important to understand that this is not about the environment. It’s about a new vision of the West that doesn’t include people. People in the East need to understand that if they (environmentalists) can do this to us, they can do it to you.” [Business Wire, 12/07/95]
  • Pendley Claimed “Environment Policy Was Free For Everyone Except The Poor Landowner.” Pendley also said Americans now understand that environmental issues are no longer an automatic “feel good” issue and are no longer free. “Environmental policy was free for everyone except the poor landowner who was discovered to have some endangered species upon his land, or whose property was coveted as a ‘wetland’ or ‘viewshed’ or ‘pristine habitat,’” Pendley said, adding that the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution provides for just compensation in property takings, and that can cost a lot of money to taxpayers in general. He said a tiny snail in Owyhee County, Idaho, cited for protection by the federal government, had the potential to put half the farmers in the county out of business. ‘Environmental policy is no longer feel good because the Americans are learning that people are being hurt by so-called environmental policy,” said Pendley. [Business Wire, 12/07/95]
  • Pendley Filed Litigation To Narrow Protection For Grizzly Bears In 2007. “In 2007, the foundation, represented by Pendley himself, filed litigation seeking to narrow protections for grizzly bears on national forest lands. It sought to reverse a National Forest Service ruling barring motorized access to parkland to protect grizzly bears under the Endangered Species Act. The filing called the ruling “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion.” [Washington Post07/31/19]

Land Transfer Champion William Perry Pendley Sued Interior Multiple Times After Working At Interior During The Reagan Administration

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt Signed Order Making William Perry Pendley, Former Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) Lawyer, The Acting Director Of The Bureau Of Land Management (BLM). This week, Trump’s Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed an order making the Wyoming native William Perry Pendley the acting director of the Bureau of Land Management. Pendley, former president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, was a senior official in Ronald Reagan’s administration. The appointment comes as a critical time for the BLM, which manages more than a tenth of the nation’s land and oversees the federal government’s oil, gas and coal leasing program. Two weeks ago, Interior officials announced the department would reassign 84 percent of the bureau’s D.C. staff out West by the end of next year. Only a few dozen employees, including Pendley, would remain in Washington.” [Washington Post07/31/19]

  • Pendley Is a “Longtime Crusader For Curtailing The Federal Government’s Control Of Public Lands.”  “After more than two-and-a-half years in office, Trump has yet to nominate a permanent director for BLM. By placing Pendley in charge of the agency, Bernhardt has installed a longtime crusader for curtailing the federal government’s control of public lands.” [Washington Post07/31/19]
  • Pendley Has Sued Interior Multiple Times Ever Since Leaving The Agency During The Reagan Administration. “In the three decades since serving under Reagan, Pendley has sued the Interior Department on behalf of an oil and gas prospector, sought to undermine protections of endangered species such as the grizzly bear, and pressed to radically reduce the size of federal lands to make way for development.” [Washington Post07/31/19]
  • Interior Said “The Administration Adamantly Opposes The Wholesale Sale Or Transfer Of Public Lands. “His views differ sharply from those articulated by former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who said ‘I am absolutely against transfer or sale of public land.’ Asked whether Pendley’s appointment marks a change in policy, an Interior Department spokesperson said on Tuesday said that ‘the administration adamantly opposes the wholesale sale or transfer of public lands.’” [Washington Post07/31/19]

Pendley Claimed The Endangered Species Act Is “Based On Political Science And Not Good Science.” The Endangered Species Act, which Pendley called ‘the pitbull of environmental law’ has become a major issue because ‘It’s based on political science and not good science. It doesn’t consider people and it doesn’t take into consideration the fact that some endangered species can be common in one area and uncommon in another.” [Business Wire, 11/07/95]

Pendley Claimed That A National Park Service Ban On Climbing At Devils Tower In Wyoming Promoted A Particular Religious Faith. “A ban on climbing at Devils Tower in Wyoming during June – a month sacred to several American Indian tribes that hold ceremonies there – violates the constitutional prohibition against government support of religion, a federal judge has ruled. The National Park Service had banned groups led by commercial climbing guides, and had asked individual climbers to voluntarily stay off the tower, an 867-foot column of lava featured in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Although most climbers honored that request, a small group of commercial guides sought an injunction against the ban. Devils Tower has an international reputation among climbers. Last year, nearly 6,000 people inched their way up its distinctive vertical grooves. While U.S. District Judge William Downes of Casper, Wyo., termed the voluntary climbing ban “laudable” in his ruling Saturday, he said that forbidding the commercial groups to use the tower amounted to ‘impermissible governmental entanglement with religion.’ William Perry Pendley, president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation of Denver, which had sought the injunction, contended that the Park Service ban actually promoted a particular religious faith.” [The Philadelphia Inquirer 06/11/96]

Pendley Tweeted He Was No Longer With MSLF On December 9th, 2018. Pendley tweeted: BTW, no longer with @MSLF but NEVER retired; busy as ever!  Eager for 1st year-end in 30 years calling friends simply to say “Merry Christmas“ or “Happy Hanukkah.” To paraphrase Dan Fogelberg, “I’m in Colorado [because] I’m not in some hotel [before I hit the road again in 2019].” [Tweet by William Perry Pendley, 12/08/18]

William Perry Pendley’s Wife Elisabeth Received More Than $57,000 As A “Consultant” With MSLF

Elisabeth Pendley, Wife Of William Perry Pendley, Received $57,304 Dollars From The Mountain States Legal Foundation For Consulting Work in 2008. The description was “Consultant.” The form indicated there was no sharing of the organization’s revenues. [Mountain States Legal Foundation 2008 990, accessed 08/27/19]

Elisabeth Pendley, Wife Of William Perry Pendley, Received A Total Of $6,825 Dollars From The Mountain States Legal Foundation For Consulting Work in 2009. [Mountain States Legal Foundation 2009 990, accessed 08/27/19]

Current Acting Bureau Of Land Management Director William Perry Pendley Has Been Or Is Still Involved In Lawsuits Pertaining To The Interior Department

William Perry Pendley And The Mountain States Legal Foundation Have Filed Lawsuits Against The Interior Department At Least 40 Times

William Perry Pendley Has Been Involved In At Least 25 Lawsuits Opposing Interior And/Or Its Subagencies. According to the PACER database, William Perry Pendley has represented plaintiffs opposing the Department of Interior and/or its sub-agencies (the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service) in at least 25 lawsuits. [Search for William Perry Pendley in PACER Case Locator, accessed 08/15/19]

The Mountain States Legal Foundation Has Been Involved In At Least 18 Lawsuits Opposing Interior And/Or Its Subagencies According to the PACER database, the Mountain States Legal Foundation has represented plaintiffs opposing the Department of Interior (the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service) in at least 18 lawsuits. [Search for Mountain States Legal Foundation in PACER Case Locator, accessed 08/15/19]

William Perry Pendley Is Still An Attorney For Three Utah Counties Who Are Engaged In Ongoing Monument Reduction Lawsuits

William Perry Pendley Is Still Listed As An Attorney In Three Ongoing Lawsuits Regarding The Bears Ears/Grand Staircase Escalante Monument Reductions. According to the PACER database, William Perry Pendley is still listed as the attorney representing Movants Garfield and Kane Counties, Utah, in GRAND STAIRCASE ESCALANTE PARTNERS et al v. TRUMP et al, as well as Movants San Juan County, Utah in two separate suits (UTAH DINE BIKEYAH et al v. TRUMP et al and NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL, INC. et al v. DONALD J. TRUMP et al). All three cases are currently ongoing and were filed to oppose to the Bears Ears/Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument reductions made by Donald Trump. [Search for William Perry Pendley in PACER Case Locator, accessed 08/15/19]

  • Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners et al. v. Trump et al. Claims Monument Reduction Would Threatens Plants, Animals And Insects. The plaintiffs are the Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, Conservation Lands Foundation. They argue the Antiquities Act does not authorize Trump to reduce the size of a monument and doing so threatens “plants, animals, insects, artifacts, and geological formations in danger.”  The suit seeks to halt the government from “recognizing, enforcing, or otherwise carrying out” the monument reduction.” Outside Magazine, 12/13/17]
  • Utah Dine Bikeyah et al. v. Trump et al. Claims The Monument Reduction Would “Threaten Hundreds of Historical Rock Art Panels, Artifacts, Pueblos and Kivas.” The suit was brought by “a broad coalition representing American Indian tribes, recreation interests and paleontologists” and argues that reducing the Bears Ears Monument would “threaten hundreds of historical rock art panels, artifacts, pueblos and kivas.” It seeks an order to require Trump to restore the original monument and “bar his administration from acting on the reconfigured designations.” [Salt Lake Tribune12/10/17]
  • Natural Resources Defense Council Inc. et al. v. Donald J. Trump et al. Claims The Monument Reduction Threatens Artifacts And Cultural Sites. “The suit was brought by multiple groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and The Wilderness Society. This suit argues that the monument reduction threatens artifacts and cultural sites. It seeks to block extractive activities such as drilling and mining in the area that had previously received protection under President Barack Obama’s monument declaration.” [Outside Magazine, 12/13/17]

William Perry Pendley Joined MSLF In 1989

Pendley Joined MSLF In 1989 And Represented A Variety Of Clients In Political Cases. “Since Pendley joined the Mountain States Legal Foundation in 1989, the group has represented a variety of clients in political cases. One was racecar driver Bobby Unser who was fined $75 for straying into federal lands on a snowmobile. Unser said he and a friend got lost in a blizzard.” [Washington Post07/31/19]

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