September 30, 2014

Congressman Smith reacts to Holder resignation

Nebraska Congressman Adrian Smith says that he is somewhat surprised by Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement  that he is stepping down from the position. Smith made his comments to Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN Radio in Lincoln after Holder’s announcement on Thursday.

“In the greater context, I’m not surprised given the controversies that have developed under his watch,” Smith says. “I think there are unresolved issues that I think he may prefer not to deal with.”

Congressman Smith includes among those issues Benghazi and the IRS situation.

“There seems to be little care at the FBI what took place in the targeting of conservatives,” Smith notes. “It is indisputable that conservative groups were targeted by the IRS.”

Congressman Smith expects his Republican colleagues on the Senate side to conduct a very rigorous confirmation of the new Attorney General nominee. Holder said Thursday he will continue to serve until a replacement is selected and confirmed.

Holder was the fourth-longest serving attorney general in American history.

Judge dismisses lawsuit seeking to keep Heidemann on ballot (AUDIO)

Republican Pete Ricketts introduces Mike Foley as his new running mate

Republican Pete Ricketts introduces Mike Foley as his new running mate after Lavon Heidemann withdrew

A Lancaster County District Judge has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged Secretary of State John Gale’s decision to allow the Republican gubernatorial ticket to change the name of its lieutenant governor candidate.

Judge Lori Maret stated she could not order Gale to reverse his decision, because state statute provided Gale no clear legal duty to refuse the request. [PDF of Judge Maret ruling]

The campaign of Republican Pete Ricketts made the request to substitute Mike Foley for Lavon Heidemann as the lieutenant governor candidate after Heidemann withdrew from the race. The request came after the September first deadline to make changes to the November ballot had passed. Gale ruled Ricketts’ constitutional right to name his running mate trumped state law.

Libertarian Party candidate for governor, Mark Elworth, Jr., filed the lawsuit, claiming Gale had violated state law and that Heidemann’s name should remain on the ballot.

Maret made her decision a day after hearing arguments in the case.

During a news conference this morning in his Capitol office, Gov. Dave Heineman, a Republican, supported Gale’s decision.

“I agree with Secretary of State John Gale and let me tell you why. The ballots haven’t been printed. Why would you print a ballot with the wrong names on it?” Heineman asked. “By constitution, the governor gets to choose his or her lieutenant governor. Pete Ricketts has made that decision. It seems to me the ballot ought to reflect both who (Democrat) Chuck Hassebrook and Pete Ricketts want as their lieutenant governor nominee.”

Heineman agreed with the Secretary that Ricketts’ constitutional right to name his running mate trumped the state deadline.

“And the ballot hasn’t been printed yet. So, why would you go print a ballot with the wrong name on it? Unless you wanted voter confusion to help win on your particular side. That’s not the way we do it in Nebraska,” Heineman stated. “We should play fair.”

Heidemann stepped down as lieutenant governor and withdrew as Rickett’s running mate after his sister received a protection order against him following a heated argument over a family dispute.

AUDIO:  Gov. Dave Heineman weighs in on ballot wording issue. [:30]

Law professor questions Secretary Gale ballot decision (AUDIO)

A constitutional law professor from Creighton University finds fault with Secretary of State John Gale’s decision to allow the Republican gubernatorial ticket to switch names.

The Libertarian candidate for governor, Mark Elworth, Jr., filed a lawsuit after Gale replaced Lavon Heidemann with Mike Foley as Republican Pete Ricketts’ running mate. Gale reasoned Ricketts’ constitutional right to name his running mate trumped state law that sets a September first deadline to make changes to the ballot.

Creighton Constitutional Law Professor Mike Fenner says the decision by Gale, a Republican, is widely perceived to benefit Ricketts.

“It smells like politics, whether it is or not, and I don’t impugn John Gale. Actually, I like him and respect him. I just think in this case he’s wrong.”

Fenner tells Drive Time Lincoln host Kevin Thomas on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN the law seems clear to him and the question is are we going to follow the law?

“Or are we going to say this law is outdated and doesn’t work anymore and therefore we should ignore it?” Fenner says. “And I don’t like it when we start ignoring the law.”

The lawsuit challenging the switch of Heidemann with Foley has been heard by Lancaster County Judge Lori Maret, who has taken the case under advisement.

Fenner believes the issue eventually will find its way to the state Supreme Court, which he says will have to act quickly so ballots can be printed and distributed in time for the November 4th election.

Heidemann resigned as lieutenant governor and withdrew from the Ricketts’ ticket after his sister received a protection order against him after a heated family dispute.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [1 min.]

Heineman for president becomes issue in NU Board of Regent’s race

Gov. Dave Heineman’s candidacy for president of the University of Nebraska has become an issue in the campaign for the Board of Regents.

Pawnee City business owner, Steve Glenn, is running against incumbent Rob Schaefer, a Beatrice attorney, in District 5.

Rob Schaefer was appointed to the board by Governor Heineman, but stated during a Regent debate in Beatrice that that doesn’t mean he will vote for Heineman to be university president.

Schaefer said the board must pick the best person, period.

“Continue to work to bring in the highest caliber person that we can to serve as the president of the University of Nebraska,” Schaefer stated. “Regardless of who that person is, I think it’s got to be someone who’s going to be a difference-maker.”

But, Glenn said when Heineman made public his candidacy, it caused other would-be candidates to start asking who contributed to whom and who appointed whom.

“And those questions are in people’s heads that are great candidates and they can count numbers,” Glenn stated.

Glenn says Heineman isn’t qualified to be the next president.

J. B. Milliken left NU after ten years to become the new chancellor at the City University of New York, the country’s third largest public university system.

Doug Kennedy, KWBE, contributed to this article.

Ricketts says running mate switch ultimately won’t matter much (AUDIO)

Pete Ricketts speaks at a news conference with Mike Foley to his left

Pete Ricketts speaks at a news conference with Mike Foley to his left

Republican candidate for governor Pete Ricketts says he’s pleased the Secretary of State has allowed him to remove Lavon Heidemann from the November ballot and add Mike Foley.

Ricketts requested the change after Heidemann withdrew from the race. Ricketts replaced Heidemann with Foley, the state auditor.

Ricketts says, ultimately, it doesn’t matter much.

“I’m the one who’s still at the front of the ticket here. My name’s still going to be on the ballot,” Ricketts tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate WNAX. “We’re fortunate to get a good ruling from (the) Secretary of State about getting Mike on the ballot as well so voters would know who they’re actually voting for in November.”

Secretary of State John Gale ruled Ricketts had a constitutional right to change the name of his running mate on the ballot even though the September first deadline has passed. Democrat Chuck Hassebrook has stated he will not challenge the decision in court.

Heidemann withdrew from the ticket and resigned as lieutenant governor after his sister received a protection order against him in wake of a family dispute of their father’s restate and their mother’s medical care.

Ricketts doesn’t believe the switch will make much difference in November.

He says few have brought up the issue as he and Foley campaign at Husker Harvest Days near Grand Island.

“At the end of the day, voters were concerned about what are you going to do for them, their families, their communities and that’s what this campaign has been about from the beginning.”

Jerry Oster, WNAX, contributed to this article.