Top GOP senator demands answers from Biden nominee over involvement in dangerous tree spiking case
Andrew Kerr, DCNF
Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the number three ranking Republican in the Senate, sent a lengthy letter to President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management on Saturday demanding answers to questions about her involvement in a 1989 tree-spiking incident.
Barrasso demanded the nominee, Tracy Stone-Manning, provide answers to 39-pages worth of questions about her involvement in the eco-terrorism incident in addition to questions about a favorable loan she had received in 2008 from a wealthy Montana land developer while working as a staffer for Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.
Barrasso said in his letter that Stone-Manning has yet to provide answers to written questions the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee had sent to her on June 10. He demanded Stone-Manning provide answers to those questions and the 39-pages worth of additional questions he sent her on Saturday by no later than the afternoon of July 15.
Stone-Manning’s involvement in the 1989 tree-spiking incident has placed her nomination to lead the Bureau of Land Management in turmoil. Multiple Republican senators and a prominent conservation group have come out against her nomination due to the role she played in the incident.
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 her former roommate and friend warning that a local forest in Idaho had been sabotaged with tree spikes, a tactic that has been widely reported as an eco-terrorism tactic.
Stone-Manning received legal immunity to testify in a 1993 criminal trial that she mailed the anonymous letter. Her testimony led to the conviction of the two individuals responsible for spiking the trees.
Stone-Manning told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in writing in May that she had never been the subject of a federal criminal investigation, but numerous news reports, accounts of federal law enforcement officials and statements from Stone-Manning herself at the time of the incident and subsequent criminal trial strongly suggest she was a target of the federal government’s investigation into the matter.
An unidentified retired federal law enforcement official reportedly told E&E News in late June that Stone-Manning was considered a target of the investigation during its initial stages, and that her alleged initial refusal to cooperate with law enforcement officials set the investigation back by many years.
NBC News reporter Josh Lederman said Friday that an unidentified Biden official described Stone-Manning’s nomination as a “massive vetting failure” by the administration.
However, the White House has remained publicly supportive of Stone-Manning’s nomination despite the blowback.
“Tracy Stone-Manning is a dedicated public servant who has years of experience and a proven track record of finding solutions and common ground when it comes to our public lands and waters. She is exceptionally qualified to be the next Director of the Bureau of Land Management,” a White House official told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
A committee vote on Stone-Manning’s nomination has yet to be scheduled.