Michele Fiore, named a suspect in Oregon, met agents alone; testified based on 'limited proffer'
“Longbow Productions, yeah…I literally went into their trailer.”
More than five years ago Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore offered these words to defense attorney Mike Arnold just outside the Portland, Oregon Federal Courthouse where she was scheduled to testify that same day in the trial of the United States of America vs. Bundy; et al. a prosecution better known to the public as the Malheur Refuge case.
The trailer she was referring to, one Fiore, in the same conversation with Arnold, guessed was, “probably at least a million dollar trailer,” was utilized by the Bureau to infiltrate the rural Bunkerville, Nevada compound belonging to Cliven Bundy and his family in 2014.
Presenting themselves as a documentary film crew, and calling their company Longbow Productions, federal agents managed to obtain audio and video interviews with those present during the Bundy Ranch standoff. Eventually the footage became the center of a battle between prosecutors and defense attorneys during the trial centered on the Nevada based incident. Despite being wholly separate events, which took place almost two years and one state apart, the proceedings for each unfolded in near simultaneous fashion.
Although presented to the court under seal by lawyers for the US Attorney’s office, Fiore admitted to Arnold she had been given access to the partially completed “documentary.” Although miffed about being, “lied to,” Fiore, a movie producer herself, was complimentary of the government’s effort. Having watched, “about 15 minutes of it,” Fiore opined, “they did it well.”
On November 3, 2016, Jeff German of The Las Vegas Review Journal reported that a government filing confirmed part of what Fiore passed onto Arnold. The FBI had in fact gained access to the Bundy clan, and their supporters, under the guise of being movie makers. However, neither the name Longbow Productions, nor the identities of the people used by the government to carry out the audacious plan, was ever officially revealed.
The date Michele Fiore disclosed her knowledge of the video to Mike Arnold was October 5, 2016.
Now a Las Vegas City Councilwoman, Michele Fiore has displayed a keen understanding of how to manipulate the media, an intense desire to bask in the spotlight, and a cunning mastery of side stepping lasting legal ramifications despite a decade of scandal and controversy. Currently running for Nevada Governor, this despite an ongoing FBI investigation into a variety of potential offenses linked to her, Fiore has often flaunted her ability to flout social norms, if not the law itself.
For the first time, through an investigation which combed hundreds of pages of law enforcement files, days of court transcripts, audio recordings in which Fiore took part, and interviews Fiore gave to a variety of outlets about her time spent involved in the Malheur occupation, it can be conclusively proven that not only was Michele Fiore named a criminal suspect for her 2016 actions in Oregon, but that she has also been disingenuous about her relationship with the FBI and the Federal Government.
Dwight and Steven Hammond, are a father and son ranching duo from Harney County, Oregon. Formerly controlling grazing rights covering almost 26,000 acres of federally owned land within their state, the Hammond’s experienced almost a decade of legal turmoil. Originally convicted of arson charges in 2012, they saw their sentences appealed by government prosecutors as being too light. This decision to appeal, and the significantly harsher sentences that resulted from it, was the impetus for the decision by Ammon Bundy and others to converge on, and take over, the Malheur refuge in 2016. Ultimately pardoned by then President Donald Trump in 2018, the pair saw their land access returned in 2019, only to be rescinded again in 2021 by the Biden administration.
The second day of 2016 was bitingly cold at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Just a few degrees off record lows, the brutal northwest weather showed a temperature reading hovering in the single digits before warming up to around 20 degrees Fahrenheit as early afternoon approached. Arriving at the Refuge around 2pm, hardened snow impacting the ground around them, the occupiers entered the MNWR, accessed its headquarters, secured the premises around them and waited.
Over the course of the next 41 days, one man would be dead, many arrested, and a second term, part time Nevada Assemblywoman, who was running for Congress at the time, would be lauded by The New York Times.
The original story of that Assemblywoman's time in Oregon, the same Michele Fiore who found herself in the middle of the original Bundy fiasco in Nevada, was narrated as that of a humbled public servant called into selfless action by the demands of the moment.
Twice, when asked why she got involved, once in an interview, and once during a court appearance, she referred to herself simply as, “a mom…looking for a monster under the bed,” at the request of her kids.
Yet, almost every one of the stories presented about, or by, her during this episode centered around a version of events either lacking context, significant information, or was a lie.
While Sean Anderson, one of the last four to leave, told media outlets that he and the others requested Fiore’s, and the Reverend Franklin Graham’s, presence to help end the rapidly devolving affair, her dash from Nevada to Oregon on February 10 wasn’t her first act related to the crisis.
An unreported phone call disclosed in court transcripts, a little discussed confab which placed her in the middle of the events since before they began in earnest, and a shocking, clandestine meeting between Fiore and known Malheur FBI informant Mark McConell in Las Vegas, all preceded her February jaunt.
Under questioning by another of Ammon Bundy’s defense team, Marcus Mumford, at her October 5, 2016 court appearance, Fiore claimed that in December of 2015, after speaking to Bundy, she proceeded to call the then Sheriff of Harney County, David Ward, to discuss with him what had transpired during her time in Bunkerville. Among the few details she shared was her belief in how well the Clark County Sheriff handled the potentially violent matter between local residents and the Bureau of Land Management. Over the course of an approximately 30 minute call, what the Harney Sheriff said in response to Fiore was not revealed during testimony but did emerge years later.
January 9, another call took place. This one was recorded, and featured Fiore, Washington State Representative Matt Shea, an FBI agent, local Judge Steve Grasty, and several other elected officials who together comprised a group called COWS. COWS, which stands for the Coalition of Western States, formed in the aftermath of Bunkerville with an expressed purpose to “restore management of public lands to the States where it Constitutionally belongs.”
Despite the stated intent, the organization had other motives, and to carry them out adopted a quasi military structure, with code names and operational security responsibilities being assigned to each of the members. Fiore, going by the pseudonym "Mambrosino" and using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, was an active participant in the group’s planning and outreach strategies, while also taking on a public facing role as a non official spokeswoman for the others.
Both her positioning and authority among her associates was made clear while on the call with the FBI agent and Judge.
During the meeting, which convened one week after Malheur was initially seized, Fiore, who was supposed to have attended in person but later claimed to Arnold to have missed her flight, attempted what was described by Oregon Public Broadcasting as a, “call to action.”
On the recording, which can be heard here in full, Fiore intoned that, “The BLM has become a bureaucratic agency of – basically – terrorism,” asking the others in the room, as the FBI listened in, “So at what point do we band together as elected officials, and say, ‘Enough is enough of the BLM?’ Can we divert this conversation? At what point are we going to actually do something for our citizens?”
Judge Grasty immediately rebuked her.
Ultimately, one of Fiore’s cohorts, who also participated in the meeting during which Fiore labeled the BLM an agency of, “terrorism,” confirmed to the media that those involved with COWS had warning that a take over by Bundy had been planned.
“We knew he was going to do something,” Robert Corbell, a County Commissioner from Greenlee, Arizona Corbell said, referring to Ammon Bundy.
In 2019, Matt Shea, the undisputed leader of COWS, an extensive report commissioned by his colleagues in the Washington State Legislature found that Shea’s participation in the Oregon events, “amounted to an act of domestic terrorism against the United States.” This resulted in his GOP colleagues expelling him from their caucus. In addition to this rebuke, and with it his eventual retirement from the legislative position he held, Shea is now under investigation by the FBI.
Among the events prosecutors are said to be exploring as part of the process in deciding whether to charge Shea with any crimes is a meeting headed by him, in which Fiore partook in during the summer of 2016.
That meeting in Washington State, which was mentioned briefly in the Las Vegas press in 2019, but which now can be expounded upon included distributing plans for a Biblical Basis for War, instructions on how to build “Tannerite based explosives,” and details on the use of grenades and Claymore mines.
Fiore continued to interact with Shea after this episode.
While looking into their colleague one exhibit that was used by the state of Washington's legislature in their findings against him related to specifically to Michele Fiore's presumed criminal conduct.
Labeled exhibit 13F and titled Harney County Oregon Sheriff's Office Incident Report # 1512255 re Malheur Occupation 11.5.2015 through 2.11.2016 , the exhaustive 227 page tome begins with pages of individuals grouped together by labels such as witness, suspect, victim, or other.
On page three, the report’s author, Harney Sheriff Dave Ward, inserted the names of seven criminal suspects.
Appearing on the third line, identified by both name and occupation, was Michele Fiore, State Assemblywoman.
Deeper into the report, Fiore’s prior account of her call to Ward was called into question.
Ward wrote that it took place in early November and while speaking to her, in ominous terms, warned Fiore, “about the demands, ultimatums, and threats of civil unrest and possible bloodshed made by Bundy and Payne,” and that he, “appealed to her to encourage them to work through legal channels for a peaceful resolution to their perceived injustice.”
Just over two months later this plea was show to have been ignored by Fiore during the January meeting as she attempted to rally other members of COWS to, “band together,” and, “actually do something” against the Bureau of Land Management.
Three weeks later Fiore, for reasons still murky, met in literal darkness with one of the most vilified characters in the Malheur saga to receive a clandestine handoff. Mark McConell, a paid government informant, was the lead driver in a convoy that carried LaVoy Finicum to his death, an act that also resulted in multiple arrests.
Posing as Ammon Bundy’s driver, McConell tipped off agents that the group were driving towards a prearranged roadblock on January 26th. After Finicum died, and the others were jailed, McConell was released without charges. Days after the shooting, the FBI allowed him to ferry Ammon Bundy’s personal possessions, which were in McConell’s car as the arrests transpired, to Fiore. Among the items was Ammon Bundy’s briefcase. An audio recording of this meet up was made by Fiore, eventually finding its way into the hands of those sympathetic to what is known in some circles as the “Patriot Movement.”
During their lengthy, often testy, exchange , Fiore peppered McConnel with pointed questions about who was present at the Refuge and what McConell remembered about the Finicum shooting.
Eventually, after the Wildlife Refuge was cleared, thanks to her assistance, Fiore returned to Oregon, this time for a court appearance.
As seen in official court transcripts acquired by Political.tips from the day Fiore testified, with the jury absent and Fiore not yet called in to the courtroom, presiding Judge Anna Brown and defense counsel Marcus Mumford discussed the small window of time that was needed for Fiore’s testimony, with Mumford estimating that her time on the stand would amount to no more than a,”10 to 15 minute examination.”
A delicate discussion then ensued over Fiore’s role as a witness.
Judge Brown asked the prosecution and defense teams if there were any more “issues… to address outside the jury's presence?”
Assistant US attorney Ethan Knight spoke up, “Your Honor, based on our understanding of the limited proffer we think her testimony would be cumulative.”
In the course of preparing to publish this story, Political.tips reached out to Michele Fiore for comment on multiple occasions.
One such attempt focused on what deal was struck between Fiore and the US government in the USA vs, Bundy, if any, had been brokered, and whether she made any similar arrangements with prosecutors outside the Oregon case.
When asked in writing by Political.tips for clarification of the circumstances surrounding the specific court appearance, Fiore refused to elaborate.
She also refused to clarify why their was a need for her cumulative testimony, which is defined as being identical or similar testimony made by more than one witness or the fact that the term proffer, which was bandied about in relation to her appearance, is explained by multiple legal sites as being when a potential criminal defendant shares information with the government, normally in exchange for immunity.
In a case that saw over two dozen people charged, Fiore’s appearance on the HCSO list of those tied to the case saw her in the same company of other suspects, including Duane Schrock, Butch Eaton, and Chris Briels.
None of those men were charged, each of them offering information or testimony which assisted the prosecution. Fiore and Briels were known to be in phone contact at least once while the drama unfolded.
Of the 15 confidential sources used by the United States for the benefit of prosecutors, only four were officially revealed.
Whatever the relationship between Michele Fiore and the FBI is currently, during her dalliance as a crisis negotiator for them, she was comfortable enough in their presence, and the overall mission to spend significant time alone with agents in preparation for starring in Malheur’s final act.
In a book authored by attorney Mike Arnold, he shares a curious scene, accompanied by photos, of an FBI rendezvoused with him and Fiore. On the side of a rural road, Fiore, despite Arnold’s pleas, jumped in a rental car with two agents, alone, and sped off. Arnold tried to keep up but found it difficult to stay with them.
What dialogue occurred between Fiore and the agents, as she sat in the backseat for the journey to the main law enforcement staging area, is unknown.
Arnold also provided another snapshot, one taken after the final occupier walked out and law enforcement agents regained control of the grounds.
In it a glowing Fiore struck a radiant pose, next to two unnamed associates of hers, basking in the peaceful resolution to a yet another worrying, and dangerous, affair in which she managed to find herself.
What bearing Fiore’s past actions and efforts on behalf of the nation will have during her present circumstances are unknown.
The only certainty, as exposed by Michele Fiore’s true Malheur history is that, fact or fiction, hers is a life always on stage.