“On the Record,” April 23, 2014.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now to that blistering fight over a Texas land grab. TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL GREG ABBOTT saying he is about ready to raise a come-and-take it play to tell the feds to stay out of Texas.
Attorney General Abbott joins us. Good evening, sir.
GREG ABBOTT, TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: Good evening, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: I have the letter you wrote to the Bureau of Land Management. What’s the story?
ABBOTT: This is alarming and disturbing because private property owners in Texas have owned this land that abuts up against the Red River for generations. They have cultivated it and they have produced off of it. Now, seemingly out of the blue, the federal government is coming in and trying to seemingly stake a claim to what we think is private property owned by Texans. And so what we are doing is firing off this letter to the Bureau of Land Management to find out exactly what it is they are looking into. Because we feel that, for one, at a minimum, they are overreaching, trying to grab land that belongs to Texans or, worse, they are violating due process rights by just claiming that this land suddenly belongs to the federal government, swiping it away from our Texans.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, apparently, you are not the only one who doesn’t like that. Wendy Davis, who is your opponent in the race for governor, her communications director released this statement which says: “Wendy Davis strongly opposes any potential seizure of private property by Texans from the Bureau of Land Management.” So it seems almost universal between the two of you heading — fighting over the job as governor. You both don’t like this.
ABBOTT: Well, and no one likes the federal government sticking their nose into Texas’ business, which is why I have already filed 30 lawsuits against the Obama administration and their overreaching federal government.
What we have seen, Greta, this is just the latest symptom of what seems to be a federal government run amok that is messing in states’ rights, now messing in private property rights. And from the very beginning of the founding of this country, this country was based upon the rule of law and private property rights. And for the federal government to trample both of those fundamental principles is just flat wrong. And as the attorney general of Texas, I’m going to be weighing in, working side by side with private property owners to ensure that both the rule of law and private property rights are respected by the federal government in the state of Texas.
VAN SUSTEREN: Interesting, because they have deeds. I’m not sure where the property lines are, but they have deeds and they have been paying taxes for years. Why would the federal government even want this land? What’s in it for them?
ABBOTT: That’s one of the questions that we have. We don’t have a clue why they are trying to claim it, what basis they have to claim it on. What we do know is that the federal government themselves came out in the mid 1990s and said that they really need an act of Congress to try to sort this out. Well, after that, Texas did engage in a compact with Oklahoma and we actually got an act of Congress to come out and say where the dividing line was, what property belongs to Texas, and we have been operating under that presumption ever since that act of Congress passed —
ABBOTT: – only now to have the federal government come in and try to stake a claim to it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the BLM says they aren’t doing this, that they are not moving in to take this land. They say they are not even doing this.
ABBOTT: Right. And, you know, one hand is saying one thing. The other hand is saying the other thing. We’re trying to figure out exactly what claims they are staking. If they are saying they are not taking any Texas land, that’s fine. However, that does contradict other statements that the BLM is making.
VAN SUSTEREN: And if they do come in and take the land, you are going to do what?
ABBOTT: We will be seeing them in court. Because this is land that belongs to Texans and we are going to be fighting for those Texans and their private property rights and the rule of law in a court of law. And we believe the courts will favor Texas in this fight.
VAN SUSTEREN: Attorney general, thank you, sir.
ABBOTT: Thank you, Greta.