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Jon Bruning Takes Money from Beer Industry While Advocating for Lower Tax Rates on Their Products

9 April 2012
Bruning Receives Over $37,000 from Alcohol Industry and Fights for Lowers Taxes on "Alco-Pops"

LINCOLN- Jim Rogers, Executive Director of the Nebraska Democratic Party, called on Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning to donate campaign donations he has received from the alcohol industry to Project Extra Mile.

Nebraska Watchdog today reported on the ongoing issues of Jon Bruning's history of accepting campaign donations from certain industries while showing them favorable treatment. From the alcohol industry to Nelnet to Monsanto, Bruning has a record of rewarding his corporate donors.

http://nebraska.watchdog.org/21318/the-money-war-where-the-candidates-are-getting-campaign-cash/

Between 2001 and 2010 Bruning received at least $39,785 in campaign donations from the alcohol industry while he actively pushed for sweetened malt beverages, known as "Alco-pops," to be taxed as beer rather than hard liquor. "Alco-pops," like Mike's Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice, are frequently marketed at children.

http://journalstar.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/court-tax-flavored-malt-beverages-as-liquor/article_c8cb7dc5-779b-5108-a090-a90ab0cb75c4.html#ixzz1raAalxyP

"Just like a vending machine, Bruning responds when you plug him with money," said Jim Rogers, Executive Director of the Nebraska Democratic Party. "For years, Bruning has claimed that he was working to keep children safe, so it's time for Bruning to do the right thing. Bruning should cleanse his campaign accounts and donate the money he has received from the alcohol industry to Project Extra Mile, an organization fighting to keep children safe."

-30-

 

Nebraska Democratic Party Chair and State Senator Call Out Election Commissioner on Misinformation and Poll Closings

29 March 2012
Commissioner Knowingly Sent Incorrect Polling Information to North Omaha Voters, Closes Half of Voting Locations in Omaha

 

LINCOLN- Vic Covalt, Chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party, called on Douglas County Election Commissioner Dave Phipps today to reopen polling locations in Omaha after Phipps sent out false polling information to North Omaha voters.

It was reported in the Omaha World Herald yesterday that Phipps knowingly sent false polling information to 2,000 voters in North Omaha. This followed his previous decision to close half of the polling location in Omaha.

http://www.omaha.com/article/20120328/NEWS01/703289884#voters-sent-incorrect-polling-info

State Senator Brenda Council questioned Phipps' contention that his decision to close polls was driven solely by cost, particularly considering the added expenses that will now be required to correct the false polling information sent to North Omaha voters.

"He clearly has no problem wasting taxpayer dollars to correct this avoidable error," Senator Council said. "Whose interests are being promoted by Commissioner Phipps' actions? It is certainly not the taxpayers or the voters."

Covalt also questioned his motives.

"By his own admission, Phipps knew the polling information he sent to North Omaha voters was false," Covalt said. "He did this with full knowledge that voters would receive wrong information on where to vote.   Is this a direct attempt to suppress minority voting in Omaha? We cannot allow this to happen. He should be removed from office."

According to Nebraska Statute 32-214, the Governor is responsible for removal of an election commissioner when he or she has been "derelict in the performance of the duties of his or her office" and has displayed "conduct prejudicial to the public interest."

http://law.justia.com/codes/nebraska/2006/s32index/s3202014000.html

"Phipps needs to show some respect for voting rights in Douglas County," Covalt said. "These dirty tricks have no place in Nebraska."

The voter suppression attempts in Omaha came as prospects for the Voter ID bill started to dim in the Nebraska Legislature. This bill did not advance yesterday after a successful filibuster.  

 

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Robert Way Withdraws from Congressional Race, Endorses Korey Reiman

24 March 2012
Way says Reiman Has the Common Sense We Need in Washington

 

LINCOLN- Robert Way withdrew from the Congressional District 1 Democratic primary today and endorsed Lincoln Attorney Korey Reiman.

"From his small town roots to his fight for disabled veterans, Korey Reiman has displayed the best of Nebraska," Way said. "He has the common sense we need in Washington, now more than ever. I hope you will join me in supporting Reiman for congress, the best choice to represent Nebraska."

Reiman said he is grateful for the endorsement and looks forward to having Way's help on the campaign trail.

"I appreciate all the  help you have given me," Reiman said. "My goal is to give people like you, me and those who work hard to provide for their families a voice in Washington."

Way's withdrawal from the race leaves Reiman as the sole Democratic candidate vying to beat Congressman Jeff Fortenberry in November (though Way's name will still appear on primary ballots). It is clear that Reiman will offer a strong contrast.

A lifelong Nebraskan, Reiman was born in North Platte and grew up on a farm in Pawnee County. He received his undergraduate degree from Peru State College and received his law degree from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln.  Reiman practiced law for John Stevens Berry from 1999 to 2004, advocating for veterans rights and benefits. In 2004, Reiman opened up his solo practice in Lincoln.  

Reiman decided to run for Congress because he believes District 1 needs a strong representative. Reiman said his background on the farm, coupled with his longstanding Lincoln ties, prepares him well to represent the diverse interests of the district.  He also said his background fighting for veterans will work well for new military families he will serve as a result of congressional redistricting. Support for veterans will be among many issues Reiman will tackle.

Reiman is married to Melissa Reiman, a nurse at the Madonna Rehabilitation Center. The Reimans have two sons, Ethan and Elias and a daughter Isabella. Korey is a member the Nebraska Bar Association, Sons of the American Legion and serves as a volunteer YMCA soccer and football coach.

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Mark Sullivan Presents Real Contrast to Representative Adrian Smith

15 March 2012
Candidate Says Adrian Smith should be fired for representing Washington instead of Nebraska

LINCOLN– Mark Sullivan, a candidate for the Third District
Congressional seat, is running for the United States House of Representatives
because he doesn’t believe Congressman Adrian Smith is representing Nebraska.

Sullivan is specifically critical of Smith’s role in the
gridlock that resulted in the Country’s credit rating downgrade. He says Smith’s
inaction was harmful to America.

“If you hurt America, you ought to be fired.”
Sullivan said.  “Adrian Smith ought to be
fired for representing the Washington bosses and not the Nebraska people.”

Sullivan, 60, of rural Hamilton County is the Democratic Candidate for
the Third District Congressional seat.

He is a fourth generation Nebraska farmer. His grandfather and father
farmed near Doniphan where Sullivan now runs a 950-head feedlot and farms about
500 acres. He and wife of 41 years, Karen, have four adult sons with their own
families who also live and work in Central Nebraska.

Sullivan says he felt compelled to run for Congress because of the
gridlock in Washington. He agrees with Barbara Bush who once said, “When did compromise
become a dirty word?”

Sullivan has been a Democrat all his life. But he is a man of reason,
understanding that there is a balance to be achieved on most issues. 

People of good conscience can see both sides,” Sullivan said. “Elected
officials must represent their constituents in negotiating good solutions to
tough issues. I believe in courtesy in all relationships.

In an interview on March 6, Sullivan said we must work to continue the
economic turnaround and make sure there is a good job for everyone who needs
one.

Sullivan is weary of conflict, controversy, and gridlock in Washington.

“My Republican friends and neighbors don’t always agree with me, but we
all work well together,” Sullivan said. “We can and should do this on a
national level.”

Sullivan supports a balanced approach between tax cuts for the rich and
spending cuts.He noted that tax revenue will increase as more people go back to
work as the economy is improves. He says patience is a virtue.

Sullivan says there also needs to be a balance in protecting our
environment.  Most farmers and ranchers
work hard to protect the land, the water, and the air, Sullivan said. It is the
base of their livelihood.

“We farmers know that we must take care of our air and water and leave
them in good shape for our children,” Sullivan said. “No-till planting is
taking hold. Manure has become valuable for fertilizing. Farmers do not need to
be told what to do by the government; instead they may need help and ideas to
do things the right way.”

Sullivan is concerned about the environmental impact of tar sands and
fracking.  The Pipeline is a real concern
to be approached carefully and without politics or campaign contributions
influencing the decision.

Sullivan says he
will be travelling all over the district and looks forward to listening to the
people and their concerns.

###

Senator Brenda Council to Kick Off Reelection Bid

5 March 2012
Campaign will focus on Jobs, Education, Health and Justice System Reform

 

OMAHA- State Senator Brenda Council is set to kick off her campaign for reelection to the Nebraska Legislature with a news conference Friday at the Malcolm X Foundation in Omaha.

"I look forward to sharing my campaign platform with the people of my district," Senator Council said.

During her first term as the Senator representing District 11, Senator Council focused on empowering the people in District 11 by improving education and health, creating good jobs and reforming the criminal justice system.

"This campaign will stress the need to continue my efforts in these areas," Senator Council said.

Details of the event are as follows:

Time: 10:00 a.m.

Date: March 9, 2012

Place: Malcolm X Foundation at 3448 Evans Street in Omaha

Senator Council will also have a fundraiser March 10 at 5:30 at Love's Jazz and Arts Museum. Hors d'ouvres will be served and a cash bar will be available. Entertainment will include live music and performances by Word Smiths. For more information about the fundraiser, please contact Fred Conley at 402-707-8915.

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Governor Won’t Give Up on Property Tax Hike

5 March 2012
Heineman Continues to Push Legislature to Institute Tax Plan that would result in Property Tax Increase

LINCOLN- Governor Dave Heineman just won't give up on his idea to shift the tax burden to Nebraska homeowners.

When the Governor first proposed his tax shift to property owners, Nebraska county officials came out with strong opposition. Now the Governor is bemoaning the fact that his proposal has turned out to be extremely unpopular.

http://journalstar.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/compromise-offered-to-governor-s-tax-plan/article_aff1a755-36db-58eb-9912-63b27a3da9e5.html

"The Governor's comments today indicate that he is perturbed by the opposition to his proposed tax shift to property owners," said Jim Rogers, Executive Director of the Nebraska Democratic Party. "If he had been listening to Nebraskans all along, he would know that people don't want an increase in property taxes. In fact, people continue to say that property taxes are the most burdensome of all taxes."

Even with a compromise that removes the inheritance tax cut, the Governor's plan would still mean severe cuts in State Aid to Education and a tax increase risk to property owners.  The Governor's proposal would mean a $50 million loss in state aid to education for the next fiscal year.

Nebraska already  ranks 47th in state funding for public schools, according to a 2009 Report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

http://www.census.gov/prod/www/abs/govern.html

"The Governor has it all backwards," Rogers said. "He wants to cut taxes for the wealthiest Nebraskans while shifting the tax burden to middle-class property owners and decimating education funding. The Governor is out of touch with everyday Nebraskans."

Jon Bruning Takes Money from Beer Industry While Advocating for Lower Tax Rates on Their Products

1 March 2012
Meanwhile, Warren Buffett confirms Legal Expenses Related to Bruning’s Former Campaign Finance Director

LINCOLN - Attorney General Jon Bruning was taking campaign money from beer companies while advocating for a lower tax rate on the companies' malt beverage products. 

The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled today that sweetened malt beverages, also known as "alcopops" should be taxed as hard liquor instead of beer. The ruling means the state can tax malt beverages at $3.75 per gallon, instead of the 31-cent-per-gallon tax imposed on beer.

http://journalstar.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/court-tax-flavored-malt-beverages-as-liquor/article_c8cb7dc5-779b-5108-a090-a90ab0cb75c4.html

According to campaign finance reports from the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, Bruning took in at least $39,785 from the alcohol industry from 2001-2009 and at least $4,500 from the industry since 2010.

The donations frequently overlap with Bruning's defense of the tax rates for malt beverages.

http://www.projectextramile.org/files/Alcopops_in_NE_-_A_Timeline_9_11.pdf

"Jon Bruning now has a well-established pattern of taking money and favors in one hand while offering paybacks with the other," said Jim Rogers, Executive Director of the Nebraska Democratic Party. "He needs to explain why he feels it acceptable to use his office for his own political and personal gain."

Meanwhile, in an interview with CNBC, Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett confirmed that Berkshire has received $1.4 million in legal expenses related to Jon Bruning's former Campaign Finance Director Dave Sokol.  Buffett said he assumes an investigation is under way due to the bills.

http://www.omaha.com/article/20120227/NEWS01/120229521/-1#berkshire-legal-bills-for-sokol-1-4m

"His previous defense of Sokol, coupled with the cover up of the lake house he purchased with Nelnet executives and his use of legal settlement dollars for political purposes, continue to raise serious questions about Bruning's honesty and integrity," Rogers said.  

Last summer, the Omaha World-Herald took Bruning to task for his defense of Sokol, his then-finance chair, saying:

"For Bruning to so quickly leap to a conclusion that no criminal act had occurred when he would have no way of knowing whether that was true is inexcusable for the attorney general."
(Omaha World-Herald, Bruning out of line in his comments, 4/29/11)

The Washington Post reported last summer on Bruning's defense of Sokol and the fact that he kept him on as finance chair, even after questions arose about securities trading. Bruning said this to the Post:

"I hope Nebraskans don't forget all the good things David Sokol has done for this state," he told me. "I think there's often a rush to judgement by the public and the media. I'm not one who abandons his friends."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/the-rising-jon-brunings-time/2011/07/06/gIQAVm6AEI_blog.html

Korey Reiman Files for 1st Congressional District Seat

1 March 2012
Lincoln Attorney has Strong Reputation; Formerly Served as Veterans Advocate

 

LINCOLN - Lincoln Attorney Korey Reiman filed for the District 1 Congressional seat yesterday.  Reiman says he will present a strong contrast to current Congressman Jeff Fortenberry.

A lifelong Nebraskan, Reiman was born in North Platte and grew up on a farm in Pawnee County. He received his undergraduate degree from Peru State College and received his law degree from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln.  Reiman practiced law for John Stevens Berry from 1999 to 2004, advocating for veterans rights and benefits. In 2004, Reiman opened up his solo practice in Lincoln.   

Reiman decided to run for Congress because he believes District 1 needs a strong representative. Reiman said his background on the farm, coupled with his longstanding Lincoln ties, prepares him well to represent the diverse interests of the district.  He also said his background fighting for veterans will work well for new military families he will serve as a result of congressional redistricting. Support for veterans will be among many issues Reiman will tackle.

"To me, the American Dream is that if you work hard in life, you should have the chance to succeed," Reiman said. "Somehow we have strayed from that."  

Reiman is married to Melisa Reiman, a nurse at the Madonna Rehabilitation Center. The Reimans have two sons, Ethan and Elias and a daughter Isabella. Korey is a member the Nebraska Bar Association, Sons of the American Legion and serves as a volunteer YMCA soccer and football coach.

"In my career, I have fought for those who had no voice and those who have not had the financial means to ensure they are treated fairly," Reiman said. "I would bring that same passion to fighting for what is right for Nebraskans."

Statement from Senator Bob Kerrey

28 February 2012

Doing things the conventional way has never been my strong suit. This afternoon, I will file to become a candidate for the United States Senate in Nebraska. I came to realize that my previous decision was the easy one, not the right one. My commitment to serve Nebraska and America, and to be part of the debate about the challenges we face was too strong to dismiss. My family supports this decision 100%. I look forward to seeing you in the coming weeks. We have a lot of work to do.

Time for Gubernatorial Accountability on Child Welfare System

27 February 2012
Nebraska Democratic Party Calls on Governor to Stop Passing the Buck and Embrace Legislative Fixes

LINCOLN - As the Nebraska Legislature begins debate on measures to fix the problems with children's services, Governor Dave Heineman is still refusing to accept accountability and support bills to fix the mess. 

Several proposals have been introduced to address child welfare services, including LB821 and LB961 which would create a state agency to oversee all programs providing services to children and require case management to be performed by the Department of Health and Human Services respectively.

The Nebraska Democratic Party has called on the Governor to accept the recommendations of the Legislature's Performance Audit Committee and the Children's Behavioral Oversight Committee.

"This Governor's lack of planning has cost the state millions of dollars unnecessarily," said Jim Rogers, Executive Director of the Nebraska Democratic Party. "And there is no stability for our children, who are being moved around between service providers like hot potatoes. The Governor must accept accountability for his administration's failures and support legislative measures to fix the system."

Just last week, the Heineman Administration announced that KVC would no longer provide case management services for child welfare. This was just the latest upheaval in a badly broken system.  The Governor has been successful in avoiding questions about the problems.

A Lincoln Journal Star editorial stated that "although state officials tried to downplay the impact of the decision by KVC, it's been apparent for some time that Gov. Dave Heineman's effort to privatize the system is in shambles. The reform effort has lurched from one crisis to another."

 http://journalstar.com/news/opinion/editorial/editorial-lurching-toward-improvement/article_e64d39b5-6510-590f-9b1d-e6a3d5d9dd88.html#ixzz1nh6vdgFk

An audit released last year from Auditor Mike Foley shows that Nebraska Child Welfare costs increased by 27 percent after a privatization plan initiative by Heineman.  According to the audit, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services failed to bid publicly multi-million dollar contracts with private service providers, resulting in increased costs and no effective oversight of children in state custody.

However, the Governor has talked about new spending proposals in the Legislature this session as serving "special interests," even though the major spending proposals  introduced this session seek to rectify the millions of dollars Heineman threw away through his mismanagement.

An article from the Omaha World-Herald previously indicated the Governor was not inclined to support legislation to fix the problem if it had a financial price tag.

http://www.omaha.com/article/20120101/NEWS01/701019907

"The Governor needs to understand that children are not a special interest," Rogers said. "The cost of not fixing the problem will be greater than the cost of fixing it - both in financial and human terms."