The Nebraska Republican primary was supposed to be a coronation for state Attorney General Jon Bruning. Instead, it has revealed some significant holes in the political armor of the man many GOPers expected to beat Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson next year.
Four years after he stepped aside for former governor Mike Johanns in an open Nebraska Senate race, Bruning finally got his chance - and a golden one at that.
Now, though, there are signs that Bruning's coronation is on hold - big time.
The move, which a Republican source confirms has been in the works for a few weeks now, follows the roughest patch of the attorney general's campaign, where he compared welfare recipients to "raccoons" and took considerable heat for his co-ownership of a lake house.
Nebraska Watchdog has confirmed that Jon Bruning's recently troubled U.S. Senate campaign has a new pitch man.
Bruning has tabbed Washington D.C. based McCarthy-Hennings Media to replace Dresner Wickers and Associates out of San Francisco. According to a 1994 Time magazine report Larry McCarthy was one of the admen behind the infamous 1988 Willie Horton attack ad, which helped derail Democrat Michael Dukakis' presidential campaign.
Michaelis is reporting that "the word in local political circles" is that Bruning has canned San Francisco-based Bob Wickers of Dresner Wickers & Associates - Bruning's consultant since 2001. He theorizes that this is a response to the withering publicity Bruning has endured for, oh, about six weeks now.
I asked around, and I'm told Wickers has been replaced with Larry McCarthy - which Politico calls "the GOP's leading practitioner of the art of the attack ad."
Last month, news broke of Attorney General Jon Bruning's buying a vacation home with two Nelnet executives a year after attempting to release the Lincoln-based company from a million dollar settlement obligation with the state of Nebraska. The Nebraska Democratic Party has since alleged that Bruning covered up his property holdings and conflicts of interest, violating the spirit - if not the letter - of our state's disclosure laws for elected officials.
What's most telling about this allegation is who hasn't come to Bruning's defense. In separate interviews with Nebraska Watchdog's Joe Jordan, the top two elected Republican in the state - Gov. Dave Heineman and Sen. Mike Johanns - have both specifically refused to defend the conduct of the presumed frontrunner for their party's 2012 Senate nomination.
If timing is everything the latest poll in the GOP Senate race appears to be bittersweet at best for Jon Bruning.
According to the poll Bruning leads the GOP Senate race but is a long way from the nomination. In addition it's possible the latest controversy confronting Bruning will make his run even more difficult.
Given the chance to rush to Attorney General Jon Bruning's defense, another major player in the Nebraska GOP has decided to punt.
In an exclusive on camera interview (see video below) with Nebraska Watchdog, Senator Mike Johanns says he doesn't know enough about Bruning's latest ethical controversy to pass judgment. "I kind of pay attention to these things. I maybe read an article here and there," said Johanns. "Quite honestly I wouldn't feel equipped to weigh in on that kind of issue without getting a better understanding."
While Jon Bruning's budget as Attorney General has soared by 80% since he first took office in 2003, it seems astonishing that Bruning's Chief Deputy Attorney General David Cookson could attend the Nebraska Democratic Party's press conference on Monday at 9:30 am in the Capitol Rotunda. Not only did Cookson show up at the press conference, he then reported back to Bruning about the event. Nebraskans should be demanding to know why the Attorney General squanders our tax dollars to have a state employee waste time at an event which was tied to Bruning's campaign for U.S. Senate.
On Monday at 9:30 am, the Nebraska Democratic Party held a press conference at the Capitol in conjunction with the filing of a formal ethics complaint lodged with the Accountability and Disclosure Commission over Jon Bruning's failure to list his $675,000 vacation home on his statement of financial interests for three years, an omission that covered up the purchase of the property from the public for years.
Nebraska's Democratic Party on Monday raised questions about Attorney General Jon Bruning's ethical behavior and a possible conflict of interest in his purchase of a vacation home in partnership with two Nelnet executives.
The party filed an ethics complaint with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission alleging that Bruning failed to disclose co-ownership of the lakeside home on financial reporting forms for three years.
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning did not specifically identify his ownership of a lake house in state financial reports, but he did list his association with two businesses that owned the house, as required by a state form.
A question about whether Bruning properly reported his partial ownership in the lake house, which he shared with two top Nelnet executives, was raised Monday by the Nebraska Democratic Party, which filed a complaint with the state.