Attorney General Jon Bruning defends a $100,000 grant to a political advocacy group for agriculture against questions about his motivation.
Bruning defends awarding the grant tothe group We Support Agriculture against criticism by Democrats, who suggest Bruning made the award to help boost his campaign for United States Senate.
“This is all about the election,” Bruning responds to reporters during a news conference at his Capitol office. “If I was not running for the United States Senate, Sen. Mello and Sen. Haar and the coordinated effort of the Democratic Party would not be taking place.”
We Support Agriculture was formed by various farm groups, including the Nebraska Farm Bureau, to advocate for production agriculture and counter any proposed ballot initiative seeking to restrict livestock farming. Many Nebraska farm groups worry that the Humane Society of the United States will mount an initiative campaign in the state.
The money for the grant comes from settlements the Attorney General’s office reaches with businesses found in violation of state environmental laws. Bruning presented the grant last month to We Support Agriculture during the Farm Bureau convention in Kearney.
Bills have been filed in the legislative session that would remove the Attorney General’s discretion is awarding settlement funds. Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm and Sen. Health Mello of Omaha take different approaches, but the money would eventually go to education. Haar is a former executive of the Nebraska Democratic Party.
Sen. Mello says the measures are a common sense approach to fairly distribute the money.
“This comes back to an oversight issue,” Mello tells Nebraska Radio Network. “The Attorney General was caught doing something he probably shouldn’t have been doing and now is trying to cry foul about it and using the tired argument of politics and partisan politics to make his case.”