Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Unlikely alliance set Oregon ranchers' pardons in motion

When Dwight and Steven Hammond left federal prison Tuesday, it was in large part thanks to a Portland attorney who was politically and culturally their opposite. Larry Matasar, 68, is a political progressive who volunteered on Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. He's a self-described child of the '60s and rock aficionado who has attended more than 100 Bruce Springsteen shows. He's an urban creature from Chicago's South Side. "It's a long, long way from Burns," he said in reference to the Eastern Oregon town nearest the Hammonds' remote 12,000-acre ranch. Yet Matasar has represented the family for 25 years and connected with them personally. It was Matasar who represented the father and son in the controversial arson case that made them unwitting heroes in the anti-government land rights movement. "Everything about them rings true, the way they interact with one another, with their children," Matasar said. "They're good people. I'm glad I got to know them." Matasar was also part of the legal team that petitioned the White House to commute the Hammonds' sentences. On Tuesday, he was thrilled when President Donald Trump instead granted them full pardons. "Trump gave them more than they asked for," said Margaret Love, a former pardons lawyer in the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations who was hired by the Hammonds. "It was unexpected, to say the least."...MORE

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