Tim DeChristopher and the feds (updated)

Peaceful disruptor of BLM oil auction to be sentenced today by our ExxonMobil government-

Bill Mckibben opines on today’s sentencing of Tim DeChristopher by a government that couldn’t find a single corrupt banker after they just about destroyed the economy back in 2008.

Tim DeChristopher and the feds. By Bill Mckibben.  The Salt Lake Tribune.

Related: DeChristopher’s Facebook page.

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Update: DeChristopher gets two years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Story in the Salt Lake Tribune. By Brandon Loomis.
2nd update: DeChristopher laywers plan an appeal. By brandon loomis. Salt Lake Tribune.

The Salt Lake Tribune



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  1. Christopher Avatar

    His real “crime”, if you can call it that, is that he made the oil industry and the feds look foolish because they did not check his credentials when bidding. At any rate I hope he gets off altogether or with probation. However with the way things are I suspect I will bake a cake with a saw in it for him. What has this country come to?

  2. WM Avatar

    That is the thing about civil disobedience. Christopher is an adult, and he needed to weigh the consequences of his acts before doing them. The point was to screw up the auction. For that there are consequences.

    I tend to agree with the author of this opinion piece that the banking fiasco should have resulted in prosecutions. That miscarriage of justice was less a function of discretion than one of lacking laws under which to bring the criminal legal claims.

    These are two different issues.

    In the end, however, I hope the Christopher gets a light sentence that still sends a message that you don’t this kind of stuff – unless you are willing to pay the price. I bet the judge does it right.

  3. wolfsong Avatar

    Tim knew going in that there would be consequences to his actions, but he still chose to make his stand. However, I do not believe that Tim is a criminal, nor is civil disobedience a criminal action. Big oil and gas and their bed partners, the Tea Party are the true criminals and yet they remain unpunished. Watch what is going on on CSPAN1 right now in regards to HR1938 and the Keystone XL. The Koch brothers have spent their money well.

  4. Woody Avatar

    Is there an organized site where people can send money to help DeChristopher pay the fine? Seems there was one to help in his defense.

    1. wolfsong Avatar

      There is an assistance fund that has been set up to help Tim with his legal fees, the fine, and his appeal:


  5. WM Avatar

    Seems to me the same deterrent message could have been sent with only a year in jail, and the same, or maybe a little larger fine. Guess the judge really doesn’t want to see repeats of this kind of thing.

    1. WM Avatar

      The reason for the longer sentence is clear. His statement was long – very long. He peed on the prosecutor, allegedly messed with some aspect of jury selection AND seemed to suggest he would continue with a pattern of civil disobedience.

      His defense lawyers, if they were worth their salt, would have told him be short and stay on point; be repectful, show contrition and don’t pee on the prosecutor.

      Here is the capper for the judge, I expect:

      “The reality is not that I lack respect for the law; it’s that I have greater respect for justice. Where there is a conflict between the law and the higher moral code that we all share, my loyalty is to that higher moral code.”

      This is another way of saying to the court I like anarchy (since I define justice by my moral code) over the rule of law passed by Congress elected by the people, signed by a President, also elected by the people, and administered by a federal agency. I will screw with the process whenever I can, under my moral code.

      Now we all know that the sytem is not perfect. We discuss how it gets derailed by politics, and is maybe even corrupt in certain aspects, here, every day.

      But you don’t say stuff like this to a judge at your sentencing hearing unless you either want to be a martyr and use the forum for political speech, or you are just plain stupid. I don’t know what to think about deChristopher, but he strikes me as the martyr type, and not a very smart one at that.

      With that statement, I am surprised he didn’t get a much longer sentence including a huge fine.

      1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


        Maybe so, but there is a quite an irony when it is elected members of Congress from Utah, such as freshman senator Mike Lee, frightened (for his job) senator Orrin Hatch, freshman Representative Jason Chaffetz, and Representative Rob Bishop who have put the United States on the edge of financial collapse.

        What should the penalty be for the destruction of maybe 60-trillion dollars of property?

        1. WM Avatar

          I gather some of them get their ideas from a higher moral power of their own. At least, that would seem to be their justification if I understand the LDS faith.

          How do we fix this?

    2. JB Avatar

      So if you’re a wealthy banker and your actions take us an inch from a worldwide economic melt-down, you’ve no need to worry. But if you’re an average guy who temporarily disrupts an oil and gas giveaway, you should expect to do a few years in federal prison.

      “Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.” -MLK


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan