In a phone conversation with Piute County (Utah) Commissioner Darin Bushman about the possibility of Utah ranchers and ranch hands showing up in the Bunkerville area as a show of support for cattleman Cliven Bundy, whose cattle were being rounded up from Bureau of Land Management land, the Clark County commissioner told Bushman the Utahns should mind their “own (expletive) business” and called them “inbred bastards.”
Collins, who always wears cowboy hats and boots, also suggested that anyone coming to Clark County had “better have funeral plans.”
“I’m trying to do everything I can to discourage anybody who tells me they’re coming here with loaded guns,” Collins told a Las Vegas newspaper reporter. “I’m going to tell them not to come,” adding that “all these gun-packing folks just need to go home.”
This from a man known to stay home and celebrate Independence Day in the backyard of his urban North Las Vegas home with whiskey and live ammo, taking on an offending tree stump and fence post with seven rounds from a semi-automatic pistol.
Police arrested Collins but the charges did not stick, unlike a prior DUI and a couple of convictions for battery.
Now boozing and fisticuffs and gunplay may be pardonable offenses for an elected county official, but in 2010 Collins registered as a lobbyist at the Nevada Legislature so he could carry water, so to speak, for former lobbyist and land developer Harvey Whittemore. Whittemore has since been convicted of illegally bundling campaign contributions for Sen. Harry Reid, reportedly a friend and political ally of both men.
And that conflict of interest pales in comparison to him taking a contract to lobby other elected officials in the county for a bus company seeking a $600 million contract with the local transportation agency.
Good judgment is not his forte.
But earlier this week he finally apologized during a county commission meeting.
“While I’m sorry I offended some people who came down here, my intention all along has been a peaceful resolution,” he said, adding that his advice to people who came to Bunkerville armed was “change the law, don’t break the law.”
Collins’ motives in this latest dust up appear laudable, keeping the peace. Though Nevadans may love our rootin’, tootin’, shootin’ cowboys, his impolitic and impolite rhetoric toward our good Utah neighbors was not excusable. An apology was the least we expected from Collins, hopefully it was made with bowed head and cowboy hat humbly in hand. — TM