LINCOLN-- Sarah Palin made an unscheduled drop-in to Omaha this weekend to visit with Deb Fischer. The two women met for the first time, and Palin noted about Fischer, "I love her common sense. I love her passion for sound policy." In May of this year, Sarah Palin endorsed Deb Fischer in Nebraska's Republican Primary after Fischer wrote to Palin requesting her support as "a fellow female Republican" and strong conservative. In Sunday's Omaha World Herald article about the Palin-Fischer meeting, Fischer's spokesperson denied that his candidate is tightly aligned with Palin's political philosophy.
"Deb Fischer now wants Nebraskans to believe she's not a student of her mentor Sarah Palin," said Vince Powers, Nebraska Democratic Party's National Committeeman and Chair-elect. "If there's a contrast between Fischer and Palin, then Deb Fischer needs to tell Nebraskans which of Sarah Palin's positions she disagrees with and which positions she supports. The two Tea Partiers do have one sharp contrast. Palin claims she wants to end government subsidies and Fischer plans to keep her big money government handout, available to a select few."
LINCOLN- While most Nebraskans are struggling to make ends meet, Deb Fischer continues to benefit from being a welfare rancher. The irony is that the brand for the Fischer's Sunny Slope Ranch is a dollar sign (see link below.) Deb Fischer not only takes advantage of a sweetheart grazing deal, but she reminds other ranchers that some people are so happy with what they've got...they want more.
"For someone who benefits from a federally subsidized sweetheart grazing deal that saves her over $100,000 annually, Welfare Rancher Deb Fischer sure likes to advertise it and rub it in the faces of the 99% of Nebraska ranchers who don't, and can't receive this assistance," said Jim Rogers, Executive Director of the Nebraska Democratic Party. "The brand for Fischer's Sunny Slope Ranch is a dollar sign, which reminds Nebraskans that Fischer benefits from a program which has shelled out over $3 million in tax payer dollars to her."
LINCOLN-- As wildfires are ravaging north central Nebraska - particularly in Legislative District 43 - Deb Fischer has been absent from her home turf. Nebraskans are wondering where Fischer has been since she still serves as their State Senator until January 2013. Fischer did take the time to issue a press release about the devastation saying, "In times of crisis, Nebraskans pull together and help each other."
However, on Wednesday, July 25, 2012, Deb Fischer was at 30th and Woolworth in Omaha filming a television commercial rather than remembering that people's lives come before polling numbers. The footage of Fischer's Omaha TV shoot is available at:
"Deb Fischer can't seem to remember that she is still the State Senator for Legislative District 43 because she's too focused on plotting her political career," said Jim Rogers, Executive Director of the Nebraska Democratic Party. "If she were really interested in helping her constituents during their time of need, Fischer would have spent the last week doing the job she currently has, instead of filming commercials for the next job she craves. It's no shock that Nebraskans are asking, ‘Where is Deb?'"
Is this the type of representation Nebraskans can expect from Deb Fischer if she is elected to the U.S. Senate?
OMAHA - While State Senator Deb Fischer remains silent on the nearly $3 million she has made on her sweetheart cattle grazing deal, the Nebraska Republican Party issued a release today that didn't refute the TV ad and the information.
"It's a bunch of bull," said Vince Powers, Democratic National Committeeman. "We correctly pointed out yesterday that Deb Fischer and the Nebraska Republican Party couldn't refute the nearly $3 million that Fischer has received in government handouts. Today, they just proved our point. Republicans again responded with a bunch of meaningless nonsense."
The Nebraska Republican Party falsely claims that the Democratic Party ad insults ranchers, conveniently forgetting that 99 percent of Nebraska ranchers don't, and can't, receive this assistance.
"These distortions by Fisher and the Nebraska Republican Party are an insult to the 99 percent of Nebraska ranchers who are at a competitive disadvantage," Powers said. "What about those ranchers who don't even have the opportunity to bid on these contracts because of Fischer's exclusive entitlement? This subsidy does nothing to reduce the cost to the consumer, but instead is just a direct benefit to Deb Fischer."
Conservative organizations like the Cato Institute have long called for an end to these subsidies. Since 1995, the Cato Institute has called for an end to sweetheart grazing deals, such as those enjoyed by Deb Fischer, which cost taxpayers at least $144 million a year. Cato calls the "distortions" of the grazing deals "cowboy socialism"
Another conservative organization, the Platte Institute is also opposed to the government handout on cattle grazing. The Platte Institute is funded by Pete Ricketts, son of Joe Ricketts, who spent $250,000 to help Fischer win the Republican Primary.
"Perhaps Fischer is silent because she doesn't want to bite the hand that feeds her," Powers said. "The Ricketts family supports the Platte Institute, which opposes the subsidies. Now that she has been caught receiving welfare, she has some explaining to do to her benefactors."
Lincoln -- Deb Fischer, Nebraska's GOP Senate nominee, claims to be a "fiscal conservative who wants to reduce the size of the federal government." Fischer, however, forgets to mention that she has benefitted for decades from a federally subsidized land deal that saves her over $100,000 annually.
The Omaha World-Herald has even criticized this sweetheart grazing deal, saying that "Fischer has benefited from a federal program that environmentalists and others describe as an expensive subsidy that needs to be trimmed or eliminated."
Fmr. Agriculture Secretary and current U.S. Senator Mike Johanns has put on his high-waders in the last seventy-two hours. On Monday, June 11, Johanns told the Omaha World-Herald, "In the era of farmers going broke because prices were so low, you could make the case for direct payments. You can't now."
Today, Johanns reversed course and claimed to take issue with the term "subsidy" and defended the current criteria used in providing ranchers with grazing rights on public lands.
"As a former Governor of Nebraska, former Secretary of Agriculture, and U.S. Senator from Nebraska, Mike Johanns should know how to define subsidy, which is direct financial aid - especially by a government," said Jim Rogers, Executive Director of the Nebraska Democratic Party. "Just like Deb Fischer's do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do attitude, Johanns finds himself knee-deep in horse manure as he falls in line with the GOP to support Fischer's bid for Senate."
LINCOLN- The ad by the Nebraska Democratic Party is straight and to the point. Deb Fisher is slighting Nebraskans and the local media by avoiding debates and using her campaign manager, Karl Rove, and the Koch brothers as her mouthpiece.
"It's no surprise that Fischer prefers billionaires to be her spokespeople rather than address Nebraskans with her own beliefs. Fischer wishes to hide that she signed the Grover Nordquist tax pledge to protect the tax breaks of her billionaire benefactors like Joe Ricketts and the Koch Brothers, and she stands against the middle class and favors tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy," said Jim Rogers, Executive Director of the Nebraska Democratic Party. "With this ad, we are calling Fischer out on it. We welcome the opportunity for her to address these issues and that forum is being provided by many stellar Nebraska institutions, like Boys/Girls state, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, and Creighton University yet Fisher has given the thumbs down to participate in all of these."
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.
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."
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."
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."