Tracy Stone-Manning accused of lying to Senate panel about tree-spiking investigation

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Bureau of Land Management nominee Tracy Stone-Manning told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that she has never been under federal investigation, but now the committee‘s ranking Republican says that was untrue.

Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, accused Ms. Stone-Manning of lying to the Senate on her background questionnaire and reiterated his call for President Biden to withdraw her nomination, citing recent disclosures about her involvement in a 1989 tree-spiking incident in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest.

A Friday report in E&E News said an unnamed retired federal agent “considered her a target of the grand jury investigation,” and stated that she only cooperated with authorities “because she was caught.”

“This investigator has confirmed what I have been saying. Tracy Stone-Manning collaborated with eco-terrorists who had booby trapped trees with metal spikes. She mailed the threatening letter for them and she was part of the cover up,” Mr. Barrasso said in a Friday statement to The Washington Times. “She did not cooperate with investigators until she was caught.”

She received immunity from prosecution to testify against two activist friends, John Blount and Jeffrey Fairchild, who were ultimately convicted on criminal charges for hammering metal spikes into hundreds of trees in an attempt to halt a timber sale.

Tracy Stone-Manning lied to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by claiming the tree spiking was ‘alleged’ and that she was never investigated,” said Mr. Barrasso. “Now, we have confirmation that neither of those things are true. President Biden must withdraw her nomination.”

His call comes with GOP opposition building against Ms. Stone-Manning’s selection to head the BLM, which manages 245 million acres of federal land, even as the Biden administration continues to stand behind the pick.

In the Senate questionnaire, Ms. Stone-Manning was asked if she had “ever been investigated, arrested, or charged by any federal, state or local law enforcement authority for the violation of any federal, state, or local law, regulation, or ordinance, other than a minor traffic offense.”

She responded that she had “never been arrested or charged and to my knowledge I have never been the target of such an investigation” while acknowledging her 1993 testimony before the grand jury.

“I testified before a federal grand jury in Boise, Idaho, as part of an investigation into an alleged tree-spiking incident related to a timber sale,” she said in the questionnaire. “I later testified in a trial that resulted in the conviction of a responsible individual.”

In her testimony, she said Blount gave her in 1989 an anonymous letter to mail to the Forest Service warning them of the tree-spiking, and that she retyped the letter on a rented typewriter, removed some profanity, and mailed it.

Why mail it? “Because I wanted people to know those trees were spiked. I didn’t want anybody getting hurt as a result of trees being spiked,” Ms. Stone-Manning said.

Her answer to the Senate gives her a little wiggle room—she wrote in response to a questionnaire that “to [her] knowledge” she was never under investigation—even as she faces mounting scrutiny over her role in the three-decades-old eco-sabotage case.

The former federal investigator told E&E that she refused initially to cooperate with authorities—“She absolutely refused to do anything” to help the investigation, he said—which set back the probe several years.

He also said that Ms. Stone-Manning, then a graduate student at the University of Montana, was required to submit hair samples, fingerprints, palm samples and a writing sample after investigators found a sweater, hair and a handwritten note at the forest site.

She ultimately agreed to cooperate after Blount’s former common-law wife contacted the FBI in 1992 and identified Ms. Stone-Manning as the person who mailed the letter, he said.

“The only reasons that Tracy Stone-Manning became a cooperator, if you want to call it that, is because she was caught,” he said.

In a 2013 interview with the Missoulian, however, Ms. Stone-Manning said she agreed to come forward after being contacted by the woman.

The article said that Blount’s common-law wife “called Stone-Manning out of the blue, and explained Blount was in jail because he had severely beat her and stolen their child,” and that “she was panicked because Blount would soon be released, and she wanted him to remain behind bars.”

She knew everything about the tree-spiking story and she knew if she told everything that could keep him in jail,” Ms. Stone-Manning said in the interview. “She asked if I would testify, and I said yes, and he went to jail.”

The Washington Times has not independently confirmed the identity of the investigator, who spoke to E&E on condition of anonymity.

An administration source told The Washington Times said that Ms. Stone-Manning has “always been honest and transparent about this matter, which has been covered by the media for decades, and ultimately testified against the responsible individual, who was convicted.”

Ms. Stone-Manning’s confirmation hearing was June 8, but the committee has not yet scheduled a vote on the nomination.

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