Here's what we know: Rand Paul might or might not have met privately with infamous Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy this week.
Here's AP's Nevada reporter Riley Snyder with the details:
Also what we know: Whether the Kentucky senator and GOP presidential candidate actually met with the anti-government rancher is kind of beside the point. Because during Monday's town hall in the state, Paul might as well have been speaking straight to Bundy.
Witness this question-and-answer session with non other than Bundy's son, Ryan. He asked Paul: "There's simply no place in the U.S. Constitution that allows the federal government to hold land. Period. What are you going to do about it?
"I'd either sell or turn over all land management to the states," he told a crowd of mostly rural Nevadans and the Bundy family in Mesquite, about 80-miles northeast of Las Vegas.
As the video below shows, Paul's answer elicited a "Wow" and some clapping.
But Paul's treading in dangerous territory here -- whether he's courting Cliven Bundy directly or just his like-minded supporters. Bundy has made repeatedly clear that not only does he despise the federal government; he doesn't even recognize it.
"The federal government is encroaching and exercising unlimited power," Bundy told me by phone from his ranch in April. "Of course they have their laws, and they have their policemen, and they have their judges, and they have their courts. All of those things they have, but they don't pertain to this land. And I have no contract with the federal government."
Bundy is so out there on this stuff that the very conservative Nevada Cattlemen's Association wants nothing to do with him. It denounced Bundy in April 2014 when the rancher was resisting a federal government round-up of his illegally grazing cattle and calling on an underground militia to bare arms against the feds.
Meanwhile, GOP leaders like Paul were calling Bundy a hero and saying he had legitimate points. They later backtracked after Bundy made racist comments about "the Negro" and wondered aloud whether black Americans were better off as slaves.
Now, it appears, Paul wants to take a step closer to Bundy, whether physically or in spirit.
Look, we get what Paul's trying to do here. He's courting the libertarian vote in a key early-voting state that leans libertarian and where his father, former congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.), did well in his presidential bids. Paul probably needs to win the Nevada caucuses to have any hope of winning the nomination, and Bundy supporters are a natural constituency for him to appeal to.
And we'll grant what Paul said -- that there's a room to talk about how the federal government could best manage public lands out West, which accounts for about 85 percent of all of Nevada.
But there's absolutely no good political reason for Paul to cater to folks like Bundy, who don't even respect the office that Paul is hoping to occupy and represent a very limited portion of GOP voters in Nevada. And that's to say nothing of Paul's repeated efforts to try and expand the GOP's appeal to racial minorities. Meeting with Bundy, in that light, would seem a particularly bad decision.
We thought Republicans learned this lesson last year, when they jumped on-board with Bundy before vetting him; at least one of them apparently might have to learn it again.