Sunday, May 15, 2005

Common Thread in Campaign Corruption

by Kyle Michaelis
Thanks to the Lincoln Journal-Star and reporter Matthew Hansen for their finally tying together the corrupt campaign-styles of a trio of members on the Board of Regents, all of them linked in disregard for the public interest, disdain for the rule of law, and the all-too-curious involvement of Speaker of the Legislature Kermit Brashear. They report:
The last three men elected to the University of Nebraska's Board of Regents took strikingly similar paths to Varner Hall. The trio spent nearly $1 million combined to unseat three incumbents, collectively transforming regents' races into high-profile political affairs in the process. They won with similar ideology, a similar campaign strategy and similar Election Day ease. Randy Ferlic, Howard Hawks and Dave Hergert have something else in common: Speaker of the Legislature Kermit Brashear.

Brashear's connections to the three, his long-standing opposition to campaign finance law and his dual role as lawyer and lawmaker may take on increased importance as possible impeachment proceedings begin against Hergert Friday.

"The three cases just seem so interrelated," says Jack Gould of the government watchdog group Common Cause. "You just see the same things over and over. And Brashear is right there every time...."
In the Legislature, Brashear has tried on numerous occasions to eliminate Nebraska's campaign finance laws, but his opposition to these laws can not possibly justify his aiding Ferlic and Hergert in their circumvention.

The idea that the chief legislator in Nebraka has worked so hard to undercut the laws of this state should scare the hell out of every citizen. This is our government working against us, putting the interests of the rich who believe they are entitled to power before all else. Worst of all, this is actually who our Senators' chose to lead them as Speaker.

The stench of Brashear's actions may not make for impeachable or even disbarrable offenses, but censor should not be out of the question. This man and his cohorts have made a consistent mockery of our laws, portraying them as unenforceable in most devious and calculating manner. That Hergert might finally be held responsible is hopefully a sign that the legislature is waking to the problem and might finally recognize the traitor in their midst.
Last week, a Journal Star reporter asked Brashear if there was any connection between his representation of Ferlic and Hergert in their campaign finance cases.

Brashear said he had known both long before they were regents' candidates and had represented each on and off through the years. "It's a coincidence," he said.
Ha! Who is he kidding? Brashear is the go-to guy and chief advocate for anyone interested in buying an election in this state. What's really perverted in these instances is what they are buying: our children's future. Regent Howard Hawks, who spent more than $400,000 for his unpaid seat, following the example set in 2000 by Ferlic, said:
"I wanted to change some things at the university, the cost of education, how long it takes kids to graduate...I invested my money and a lot of my friends' money to get to do that."
Well, I don't know what we're supposed to assume from that statement since tuition has sky-rocketed about 10% each and every year that Hawks has been on the Board. Maybe, in keeping with his philosophy that the rich should be able to buy elections without restriction, he also thinks they and their off-spring are the only ones who deserve a college education.


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