Photo: AP

Oregon Public Broadcasting has obtained an email from Cliven Bundy’s lawyer to a Utah state representative with known ties to the Koch brothers, asking whether the notorious libertarian billionaires would be willing to fund the Bundys’ legal fees.

The federal government owns most of the land in the American West, where people like Rep. Ken Ivory, R-Utah, believe that control of federal lands should be transferred to the states. (States are more likely to sell their land to private businesses, especially as Republican-controlled legislatures gut their budgets.) Until recently, Ivory was also the president of the American Lands Council, which was funded, in part, by the Koch brothers.

“I cannot represent Cliven for free. I’m not independently wealthy,” Bundy’s lawyer Joel Hansen wrote in an email to Ivory. “I understand from news articles that the Koch brothers are helping to fund Cliven’s efforts to return our lands to the states. I would like to speak with someone about helping to fund the legal fees associated with this case.”

Bundy, his sons, and a swathe of associates have been arrested and charged in connection with the 2014 standoff at the Bundy ranch and the occupation of the Malheur wildlife refuge earlier this year. “The case will be huge, with 19 defendants, and so it will be long and complicated and so legal fees will not be insignificant,” Hansen wrote.

It does not appear that Ivory responded to Hansen’s request. Ivory did not immediately respond to a request for comment, although his voice mail message does remind callers that, “This is a wonderful time to be alive.”