November 29, 2014

Ricketts denies orchestrating negative campaign against Bruning (AUDIO)

Pete Ricketts answers questions at a Capitol news conference

Pete Ricketts answers questions at a Capitol news conference

Omaha businessman Pete Ricketts denies he’s behind the attack adds against Attorney General Jon Bruning in their campaign for the Republican nomination for governor.

A number of television ads have attacked Bruning as the May 13th primary Election Day draws near.

The Bruning campaign accuses Ricketts of secretly funding the negative campaign.

Ricketts denies the accusation, stating neither he nor his family have funneled money to the American Future Fund or Citizens for a Sound Government to run the ad campaign targeting Bruning.

Some of the bad blood between the two candidates actually stems from the 2012 United States Senate race, in which Bruning lost a close primary battle to Deb Fischer, who claimed the Republican nomination, then won election as U.S. Senator.

Many thought a rash of last-minute campaign advertisements from Ending Spending against Bruning played a crucial role in tilting the campaign away from Bruning and toward Fischer. Ending Spending is a political action committee founded by Joe Ricketts who also serves as its chairman. Joe Ricketts is Pete Ricketts’ father.

Ricketts says there is no connection between those ads run during the 2012 United States Senate Republican primary and the ads being run now in the governor’s Republican primary race.

“Well, I think what is very clear is Ending Spending was behind the ads that ran in 2012 and my father was very upfront in being associated with that,” Ricketts says. “And, as I’ve said today, I can tell you right now it’s not me and it’s not my father (behind the current negative ads against Bruning).”

Ricketts also says none of his associates are being the advertising campaign against Bruning.

That doesn’t ring true to the Bruning camp.

Bruning Campaign Manager Jordan McGrain charges that nobody in Nebraska pays for more 3rd party negative ads than the Ricketts.

“Pete can’t win a fair fight. You know, he’s put a million dollars of his own money in the race. His family has put half a million dollars in the race. They’re trying to buy the votes of Nebraskans,” McGrain tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Ricketts and Bruning are only two of six Republicans running for governor.

The race also includes state Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege, state Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha, Omaha businessman Bryan Sloan, and state Auditor Mike Foley.

Gov. Dave Heineman, a Republican, cannot run for re-election, due to term limits.

AUDIO:  Republican Pete Ricketts denies he’s behind negative campaign against Jon Bruning during Capitol news conference. [2:30]

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:55]