by Andrew Kerr
The Senate vote 50-45 on a party-line vote Thursday to confirm President Joe Biden’s Bureau of Land Management nominee amid strong opposition from Republicans and former Obama administration officials over the nominee’s involvement in a 1989 eco-terrorism incident.
The nominee, Tracy Stone-Manning, failed to win a single Republican vote amid accusations she lied to the Senate Energy Committee over her involvement in the 1989 Clearwater National Forest tree-spiking case. All 48 Senate Democrats and the two independent senators who caucus with the party voted in favor of Stone-Manning’s nomination to lead the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which oversees 245 million acres of public lands.
Two former high-ranking BLM officials that served under former President Barack Obama’s administration, including Obama’s first director of the agency, Bob Abbey, came out against Stone-Manning’s confirmation prior to Thursday’s vote, saying her involvement in the eco-terrorism case should be disqualifying.
The Daily Caller News Foundation first reported the contents of an anonymous and threatening letter Stone-Manning sent to the Forest Service in 1989 on behalf of John P. Blount, her former roommate and friend, warning that a local forest in Idaho had been sabotaged with tree spikes to make the trees unsafe to log. Stone-Manning received legal immunity to testify against Blount in a 1993 criminal trial, resulting in his conviction and a 17-month prison sentence.
Stone-Manning has since described Blount as a “rather disturbed” and “frankly, frightening” person, and she said she waited over three years to inform authorities that she sent the threatening letter on his behalf because she was scared he would threaten her life.
Blount told the DCNF during an extensive phone interview in August that he resents the way Stone-Manning describes their relationship.
“I knew who Tracy was. Didn’t know her well. She liked the way I kissed,” Blount said. “I don’t see the horrifying menacing part.”
Stone-Manning told the Senate Energy Committee in writing in May that she had never been the target of a federal criminal investigation, but the lead Forest Service investigator in the case, Michael Merkley, informed the committee in June that the nominee was one step away from being indicted on criminal charges in 1993 for her “active participation in planning these crimes” before she lawyered up and received an immunity deal.
Merkley, now retired from the Forest Service, reiterated his account in a Fox News op-ed Thursday, writing that Stone-Manning “concealed a felony” by holding out for three years before coming clean to authorities about her involvement in the eco-terrorism plot. The retired investigator said Stone-Manning was “intentionally obstructive while under investigation.”
Republican lawmakers have also taken umbrage with Stone-Manning’s advocacy for population control in her 1992 graduate thesis, in which she called a shirtless American baby an “environmental hazard.”
Senate Energy Committee Ranking Member Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming railed against Democrats prior to Thursday’s vote seeking to confirm Stone-Manning amid crises in Afghanistan and the U.S. southern border.
With mounting Democrat-caused crises in our country, Senate Democrats’ top priority is to confirm an eco-terrorist collaborator who lied to the Senate. Tracy Stone-Manning should never be the director of @BLMNational. Senate Republicans are united against this dangerous nominee.
— Sen. John Barrasso (@SenJohnBarrasso) September 29, 2021
Tracy Stone-Manning's history of aiding ecoterrorists—and her attempt to conceal it from the Senate—make her unfit to serve as Director of @BLMNational. Utahns deserve to have our 23 million acres of public lands managed by someone we can trust—and Ms. Stone-Manning isn't it. pic.twitter.com/PI8f1Nxdge
— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) September 30, 2021
Senate Democrats and the White House have dismissed Republicans’ statements opposing Stone-Manning, saying their fixation on the eco-terrorism incident is nothing more than a smear campaign.
“Unfortunately, members of this body have played politics with her nomination,” Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, Stone-Manning’s former employer, said in July. “They have dragged a good person’s name through the muck in a cynical smear campaign by folks who would rather play politics than see a qualified competent woman run the Bureau of Land Management.”
– – –
Andrew Kerr is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Tracy Stone-Manning” by Montana Mountain Mamas.