Saturday, June 04, 2005

Dark Lord of the Legislature?

by Kyle Michaelis
Perhaps the pressures of being Speaker of Nebraska's Legislature are getting to Sen. Kermit Brashear. All this recent talk about "Deep Throat" and Watergate seems to have inspired Brashear to invoke the vengeful spirit of Richard Nixon in composing an "enemies list." Here's what the AP had to say about Brashear's crack-pot warning to those out to destroy him:
His voice rising to a near shout, an agitated Kermit Brashear, as speaker of the Legislature, Thursday questioned the motives of people he called his "enemies," saying he intends to investigate the most vocal critic of actions he has taken this year.

"Who always comes after me? Jack Gould and Common Cause," Brashear said in an interview in his office, which is just off the floor of the legislative chamber. "Who's he and what's that? I'm going to find out. . . . I'm tired of it."

Gould, who is the nonpartisan political watchdog group's spokesman, was undeterred.

"We won't be intimidated by loud noises or stamping of feet or even crying. We don't do any of those things," Gould said. "We just work as best we can representing the ethical interests of the public."

Brashear, waving his arms and speaking loudly, said he was not threatening Gould, and he denied that he was agitated. "I'm fatigued," he said.

Brashear, an Omaha attorney in his first year as speaker, was a lightning rod of criticism, particularly from Common Cause Nebraska on two issues this year.

Gould questioned the appropriateness of Brashear's sponsoring a bill to shut public power companies out of the telecommunications business at the same time the senator had Cox Communications as a client. Cox and other telecommunications companies lobbied in support of the bill...

Brashear said criticizing him for bringing up that bill, which potentially could benefit one of his clients, is "a convenient argument for my enemies...."

Gould also took issue with Brashear for being the attorney for University of Nebraska Regent David Hergert, who admitted to breaking the state's campaign finance law. Brashear negotiated the settlement with the state's Accountability and Disclosure Commission, then stepped aside as Hergert's attorney.

Brashear accused Common Cause of harboring a liberal agenda that is used to attack those who don't adhere to the group's beliefs. "I haven't seen Common Cause lead any portion of Nebraska into the future," Brashear said.

Gould welcomed Brashear's interest in Common Cause, which was founded nationally in 1970 and in Nebraska three years later. Common Cause has 600 paid memberships in the state and about 350,000 members nationally, he said.

"I'd love to have him come to one of our meetings and sit down with some real citizens and talk about real issues," Gould said.

Gould said neither he nor Common Cause was out to get Brashear. "We don't consider Senator Brashear our enemy, but he has consistently brought legislation that runs contrary to our issues," Gould said.

Recently, it has been Brashear's long-held dislike of the campaign finance law and his relationship with Hergert that have created the most friction. Brashear said that during the next session, he will again try to repeal the law, which he called pathetic and unconstitutional.

Wow, that's a lot to digest, but it makes Brashear sound a little bit off his rocker. The guy invites controversy with his philosophy of selling democracy to the highest bidder, then thinks people are out to get him when criticized for it. Now, he's talking about investigating Common Cause for doing nothing but speaking out against his OBVIOUS conflicts of interest and possible abuses of power.

Is that American? Is that how democracy works? What in the hell were West Omaha voters thinking electing this guy (twice), and what was the State Legislature doing putting him in charge?

Has the Associated Press made the ranks of Brashear's enemies for running this less-than-flattering article? Am I worth investigating for discussing it? Where does it stop? Who has a right to speak out in Kermit Brashear's Nebraska? To exactly what sort of future is he leading us?

I fear we may already know the answer.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do we keep this guy Brashear out of St. Louis where, purportedly authorized by the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church, he has engineered a "secret" deal to sell the area's only classical music station to a group broadcasting gospel music?


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