BOISE, Idaho — Just days after St. Luke’s Health System filed a new lawsuit against far-right activist Ammon Bundy — accusing him of hiding assets to avoid paying damages a jury awarded in a defamation case — an Idaho judge has restricted the failed gubernatorial candidate’s finances.
Third District Judge Brent Whiting issued a verbal restraining order during a Monday afternoon hearing restricting Bundy and his wife — as well as entities he controls — from transferring ownership of any properties, companies or other significant assets, attorney Erik Stidham, who is representing St. Luke’s, told The Idaho Statesman.
Whiting is expected to publish a written order in the matter, Stidham said.
The order, which lasts for roughly two weeks, prevents the defendants from transferring any assets that “go beyond taking care of your living expenses,” Stidham said by phone. He added that Bundy is also restricted from paying off any debt and can make only minimum payments.
“The individual gets to, of course, pay his bills, feed his family, those kinds of things,” Stidham said.
In July, a 12-person jury ordered Bundy and Diego Rodriguez, his former campaign adviser and close associate, and their organizations to pay a total of $52.5 million in damages to St. Luke’s and other plaintiffs, the Statesman previously reported. Bundy and Rodriguez led protests at the St. Luke’s hospitals in Meridian and downtown Boise in March 2022 over a child welfare case involving Rodriguez’s 10-month-old grandchild, leading to the defamation case.
St. Luke’s filed a 22-page complaint Friday asking the 3rd Judicial District to void any transfers of property or assets made by Bundy and his wife, including what the plaintiffs called the “sham transaction” of their 5-acre, 4,760-square-foot Emmett home, which St. Luke’s claims was done to avoid paying millions in damages.
This new suit was the first step in the process, Stidham said. Next, Bundy will be expected to appear at the Gem County Courthouse on Aug. 28 for a preliminary injunction hearing, where St. Luke’s will be expected to present evidence. Stidham said the judge will decide after that hearing whether to restrict Bundy’s financial transactions — aside from what he needs to pay bills — until the end of the lawsuit.
The defendants, including Bundy’s People’s Rights Network, Bundy for Governor and White Barn Enterprises, are also prevented from transferring ownership of any assets, Stidham said. White Barn is controlled by Aaron Welling, a former gubernatorial campaign treasurer for Bundy and his longtime friend, according to the lawsuit.
According to the Idaho Capital Sun, which first reported on Monday’s hearing, the defendants are also restricted from spending more than $5,000 for the next two weeks.
White Barn is the entity that purchased the Bundys’ property and then leased it back to them.
“Mr. Bundy, on behalf of himself and his entities, has made clear he’ll do whatever it takes, including apparently arming himself at his front door, to prevent my clients to collect on their judgments,” St. Luke’s attorney Bob Faucher told Whiting during Monday’s hearing, according to the Sun. “My clients and their attorneys will not be intimidated, and so we are going to try to collect on their judgments. And this is the first stage of doing that.”