A watchdog group is calling this week for federal prosecutors to investigate allegations that Tracy Stone-Manning, President Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management, may have made false statements to Congress regarding a tree spiking plot during her confirmation process.
Republican lawmakers say Stone-Manning to be barred from consideration over her ties to environmental activists who placed spikes in trees in an effort to sabotage a timber sale in Boise, Idaho in 1989. Stone-Manning later cooperated with federal authorities and testified against two others who were convicted.
The complaint from Protect the Public’s Trust to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington D.C. is focused on Stone-Manning’s written testimony to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on June 8. In response to a question on her own legal history, Stone-Manning said she had never ‘been the target” of a criminal investigation, though she acknowledged testifying before a grand jury during the federal investigation into the tree-spiking incident.
“Common sense and publicly available facts point to the conclusion Ms. Stone-Manning was under investigation for her role in the tree-spiking eco-terrorism plot,” the group said in its complaint. “Further, she was aware of the need to cooperate with the authorities to avoid federal indictment and/or prison.
“The record established by subpoenas, newspaper articles, Ms. Stone-Manning’s own public statements, and the fact she testified in exchange for immunity clearly support this conclusion. Whether she was ultimately charged or convicted in the case is irrelevant; she was being investigated by federal authorities in the tree spiking case, and the fact of her immunity undeniably reinforces this point,” the complaint added.
Protect the Public’s Trust asserted Stone-Manning violated federal law with her response to the question. The watchdog group called for an immediate investigation into the situation.
Tree-spiking is a tactic in which metal spikes or rods are placed in tree trunks to prevent them from being cut down. It is considered a federal crime.
Stone-Manning admitted to sending a letter to federal officials in 1989 warning that trees were spiked in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest and “a lot of people could get hurt” if logging continued. She testified that she sent the letter at the request of one of the two people and was trying to prevent injuries.
She received immunity in exchange for her testimony and was never charged with a crime.
“The U.S. Senate depends on complete and truthful answers during the confirmation process to fulfill its constitutional duty. Without this, Senators cannot do their jobs and the American public can lose faith in the character and integrity of its high-ranking officials,” Protect the Public’s Trust Director Michael Chamberlain said in a statement. “There are significant inconsistencies between the available facts and Stone-Manning’s statement under oath to the Senate committee. The American public deserves a thorough and complete investigation.”
A vote on Stone-Manning’s nomination has yet to be scheduled. At least one Democrat would have to join GOP senators to block her confirmation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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