This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Ammon Bundy has hired Utah Republican politician Morgan Philpot to defend him against federal charges tied to the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
Philpot, who is running for state Senate District 14 in Utah County, was identified as Bundy's new attorney in court records filed Wednesday in federal court in Portland.
Bundy is charged with conspiracy to impede officers and weapons violations. He and 25 others were arrested in connection with a 41-day armed occupation of the Burns, Ore., sanctuary in January and February. The defendants have said they were protesting in support of two ranchers who were ordered to return to prison to fulfill a mandatory minimum sentence for a series of fires on BLM lands.
Philpot is a former Utah state representative and 2010 Republican nominee for Congress. He lost to incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson. Public land policy was at the center of Philpot's campaign. He objected to unilateral federal decisions on public access and oil and gas drilling an interest he said that he cultivated as an intern in Washington, D.C., during President Bill Clinton's 1996 declaration of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Philpot, a tea party favorite, also challenged Gov. Gary Herbert from the right in the 2012 Republican Convention. He attacked Herbert on federal land issues, vowing that he would willingly be arrested in a fight to secure the state's control over public lands. He said he would defy orders to close roads over federal lands and reopen roads that previously were closed.
Philpot has represented retiring State Sen. Alvin Jackson in a debt collection case, and prominent Utah gun advocate Clark Aposhian in a domestic violence case in Holladay.
Philpot is the latest Utah tie with the Malheur occupiers. Bundy's co-defendants include his brother Ryan, who ranches in southwest Utah, as well as Shauna Cox, of Kanab, and Wesley Kjar, a 32-year-old Manti native who lives in Salt Lake City.