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State Senator Deb Fischer has Received Nearly $3 Million in Public Welfare Since 1973

9 July 2012

LINCOLN - The Nebraska Democratic Party has unveiled a new TV advertisement showing that State Senator Deb Fischer has received nearly $3 million in welfare assistance related to her sweetheart cattle grazing deal.

The information was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request with the U.S. Forest Service.

"Deb Fischer is a welfare rancher," said Vince Powers, Nebraska Democratic Party Committeeman and Chair-elect. "Every year, Fischer makes $125,000 off of her grazing leases. Her sweetheart deal is available to less than one percent of Nebraska ranchers and it costs taxpayers $120 million a year."

Powers went on to point out Fischer's hypocrisy on this welfare assistance.

"Welfare Rancher Deb Fischer refuses to support an amendment to the Farm Bill that would put public grazing prices in line with private sector prices," Powers said. "She thinks her welfare program should be exempt from cuts, even as we face a $1.1 trillion dollar deficit."

Fischer leases nearly 12,000 acres of federal land in North Central Nebraska. She and her husband have leased this land since at least the early 1970s, benefitting from leasing permits already obtained by her husband's family.

"Even worse, there is no bidding process for this assistance," Powers said. "This means that Welfare Rancher Fischer will be able to keep these leases indefinitely - including passing them on to her children through the transfer of ownership of Sunny Slope Ranch. Why should Fischer and her family receive this indefinite entitlement, at taxpayer expense?"

The federal grazing fees paid by Fischer's Sunny Slope Ranch from 1973 until 2012 were approximately $244,000 while the private market price was more than $2.9 million.

In October 2011, the Omaha World Herald reported, "Few ranchers in Nebraska hold federal grazing rights. Only 136 of Nebraska's 20,000 beef producers hold them."

Fischer protects her own welfare even while supporting radical proposals like Cut, Cap and Balance which would set federal spending at 18 percent of GDP. And while signing the Grover Norquist tax pledge, which means she believes that billionaires should pay lower tax rates than everyone else. Even Fischer's fellow Republicans are running away from Norquist.

"It's clear who Welfare Rancher Deb Fischer would work for in Washington - herself and her benefactors," Powers said.




Governor Pushed to Keep Power Over Phipp's Job

16 April 2012
Heineman Kept Voters From Having Ability To Vote Phipps Out of Office

LINCOLN- At this Saturday's Nebraska Democratic Presidential Caucus, Douglas County Voters continued to be livid at the actions of Election Commissioner Dave Phipps, who closed nearly half of Douglas County's polling places and knowingly sent incorrect information to voters regarding their polling places. This story continues to unfold today as more pieces emerge from the darkened halls of the Unicameral.

On Wednesday, March 28, 2012, the Omaha World Herald reported that Phipps knowingly sent false polling information to 2,000 voters in North Omaha. This followed his previous decision to close more than half of the polling location in Douglas County.

Phipps claimed the closing of polling places would save $115,000, but the mess caused by the misinformation sent by his office has cost the County at least $132,000 to correct it.

Several elected officials have called for further investigation into Phipps' actions including U.S. Senator Ben Nelson and State Senator Brenda Council.

Senator Nelson called on Attorney General Eric Holder to explore possible "voter suppression" when Phipps closed polling places that would "adversely affect those residents living in predominantly minority and low-income communities who wish to vote" in the Primary on Tuesday, May 15, 2012.

State Senator Brenda Council questioned Phipps' contention that his decision to close polls was driven solely by cost, "Whose interests are being promoted by Commissioner Phipps' actions? It is certainly not the taxpayers or the voters."

Today, the plot thickened to include the actions of Governor Dave Heineman, who has refused to comment on the situation.

Nebraska Watchdog revealed that on Wednesday, February 1, 2012, Heineman sent a letter to State Sen. Bill Avery, Chairman of the Government Committee, regarding LB 934, which would have removed the governor's ability to appoint the election commissioners Douglas, Lancaster, and Sarpy Counties. Heineman commented that he believed "this important appointment authority should remain with the governor." The Governor went on to add that "Transferring appointment authority to county boards creates the opportunity for an intermingling of personal interests and public duties."

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."

"Heineman still does nothing to remove Dave Phipps from office for violating the most basic rights of voters," said Jim Rogers, Executive Director of the Nebraska Democratic Party. "This mess is just another case of GOP elected officials behaving like birds of a feather with Phipps sending incorrect information to voters and Heineman covering his tail."



IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: OBAMAHA - Or, Planning for an Electoral Vote Tie

16 April 2012
Nebraska's Split Electoral Vote Could Be Tie Breaker For 2012 Presidential Election

Lincoln, NE- ABC News spoke with Nebraska Democratic Party State Chairman Vic Covalt today about Nebraska's split electoral vote and the potential impact on the 2012 Presidential election. Covalt noted that President Obama's campaign has already opened an office in Omaha, yet there is no sign of the Romney in Nebraska.

The Obama campaign opened an Omaha office for their 2008 campaign in late-July of that year. Obama for America just recently opened their Omaha office on March 15, 2012 - a full four months earlier than 2008. The earlier a campaign has workers in a state, the more it means the campaign has invested in winning the vote.

In 2008, Congressional District 2 went "Blue" for Obama and awarded him one electoral vote under the split electoral method, which selects one elector within each Congressional District by popular vote and selects the remaining two electors by the statewide popular vote. Obama won Nebraska's Congressional District 2 by 3,325 votes over John McCain. David Plouffe, Obama's 2008 Campaign Manager, identified the Omaha electoral vote as his "personal favorite target."

In 1996, Nebraska changed state law from the "winner-takes-all" method and joined Maine as the only two states to use a split electoral method. Earlier this year, Nebraska Republicans attempted to return the state to winner-takes-all system under the failed LB 21.

It is a mathematical possibility for Nebraska to hold a deciding electoral vote under a 269-269 split. Prior to 2008, the last time Nebraska's Congressional District 2 went "Blue" was in 1964 when Lyndon B. Johnson carried the state.

"Congressional District 2 is very much in play for the 2012 election," said Nebraska Democratic Party State Chair Vic Covalt. "The Obama campaign already has volunteers on the ground making phone calls and helping organize our state. Nebraskans want to move our great nation forward and they know re-electing President Obama is the answer to solving our problems whether it's saving the auto industry or killing Osama bin Laden."


Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Comments on Fundraising Visit by fmr. Governor Mitt Romney

10 May 2012
Romney Finally Visits Nebraska; Only if the Price is Right

LINCOLN- Today Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney makes his first campaign visit to Nebraska for a fundraiser. In comparison, Obama for America opened a campaign office in March of 2012; creating jobs and hiring Nebraskans to reach out to voters. By dropping in for a fundraiser, Romney shows he cares more about the money in Nebraska than Nebraskans.

"It surprises me that conservatives would support a candidate like Mitt Romney whose flip-flopping record as Governor has him at odds with members of his own Party," said Vic Covalt, Nebraska Democratic Party State Chair. "I only hope that Romney doesn't lose any ideals when Heineman shakes his hand. You have to be gentle with an Etch-A-Sketch."



Nebraska Democratic Party to State Senator Fischer: Your Comments Don't Reflect Nebraska Values

18 May 2012
Fischer Needs to Talk Less Trash and More About the Issues

LINCOLN -The Nebraska Democratic Party today urged State Senator Deb Fischer to engage in a more positive debate on the issues than has been reflected in her comments so far.

"Suggesting that Nebraskans who leave Nebraska and return home, or suggesting that individuals who moved to Nebraska to make it their home are not allowed to participate fully in our democracy reflects an intolerance that is not a Nebraska value," said Jim Rogers, Executive Director of the Nebraska Democratic Party.

On KLIN Drive Time Wednesday, State Senator Fischer suggested that Kerrey does not live in Nebraska because she "did not know his address." Fischer has also stated that Kerrey is no longer a Nebraskan because he lived in New York City as President of the New School University.

"These are truly mean-spirited and intolerant remarks that do not reflect the better nature of Deb Fischer or Nebraskans," Rogers said. "The good people of Nebraska have been given a black eye by Deb Fischer's comments. Nebraskans don't deserve it."

Rogers also raised the following questions:

1. Is State Senator Deb Fischer's billionaire benefactor, Joe Ricketts, no longer a Nebraskan because he resides in Wyoming? Has he lost his Cornhusker values as a result of moving out-of-state?

2. Is Congressman Jeff Fortenberry not a Nebraskan because he lived most of his life outside of Nebraska?

3. Did Senator Kerrey lose his status as a Nebraskan when he served in the U.S. Navy for three years?

4. Is there an expiration date after which Nebraskans who leave the state are no longer considered Nebraskans?

"It's time to move on to more important issues, like resolving our deficit, lowering the cost of health care, and defending our nation against terrorist threats," Rogers said. "Let's end the child-play."


Governor Heineman Still Not Over Losing 2008 Electoral Vote in Congressional District 2

24 May 2012
Nebraska Republicans Still Feel Sting of Loss; Nebraska's Electoral Vote Could Go For Obama Again

LINCOLN- In 1991, State Senator DiAnna Schimek worked to change Nebraska to a split electoral vote. As a result of her efforts, Nebraska is one of two states that allow for the electoral votes in a Presidential election to be split; the other 48 states vote as "winner takes all."

2008 marked the first time that Nebraska actually split the electoral vote for a Presidential candidate with Barack Obama winning a lone electoral vote from Congressional District 2 with Nebraska's four other votes going to McCain.

Since Obama's win in 2008, Governor Dave Heineman and the Nebraska Republican Party have been actively attempting to change Nebraska back to a "winner takes all state." Nebraska Republicans in the Legislature made it their priority to undo the split electoral vote with Legislative Bill 21 since they lost the electoral vote to Democrats at the polls on November 4, 2008.

This week, Governor Heineman continued the GOP's efforts to change Nebraska's split electoral vote, saying that it's "totally inappropriate," and he noted that efforts to retain the current system were "partisan and political."

"Heineman's grievance would carry more weight if it came prior to President Obama winning the electoral vote in Congressional District 2," said Jim Rogers, Executive Director of the Nebraska Democratic Party. "Had the Republicans previously complained at some other time in the nearly two decades after Nebraska switched to a split electoral vote, their claims of unfairness would not ring hollow with the fears that they're going to lose the electoral vote again in 2012."



Nebraska Democratic Party Executive Director Calls Out Governor and Secretary of State For Not Protecting Rights of Voters

11 April 2012
Governor and Secretary of State Stay Silent as Senator Nelson Calls for Federal Investigation into Actions by Douglas County Election Commissioner.

LINCOLN- Nebraska's U.S. Senator Ben Nelson has called upon the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate possible voter suppression and violation of the civil rights of voters registered in Douglas County in regards to the closing of polling sites and incorrect information sent to voters by Douglas County Election Commissioner Dave Phipps.

"Thank you to Senator Ben Nelson for again showing true leadership for our state by asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the actions of Douglas County Election Commissioner Dave Phipps," said Jim Rogers, Nebraska Democratic Party's Executive Director. "These are serious issues showing blatant disregard for the rights of voters. When Governor Heineman and Secretary of State Gale fail to take any action to protect the citizen's right to vote, then a demand for investigation into Phipps' incompetence is warranted.


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.

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.

"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."



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.

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."

"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.  



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.