Friday, July 08, 2005

Ferlic's Flip-Flop

by Kyle Michaelis

The Omaha World-Herald reported yesterday that University of Nebraska Regent Randy Ferlic of Omaha's 8th District will abide by campaign spending requirements as he seeks re-election in 2006. This follows on the heels of Regent Chuck Hasebrook of rural northeast Nebraska making the same committment. The difference is that Democrat Hassebrook, as opposed to Republican Ferlic, didn't win election in the first place by cheating and making a mockery of the state's spending laws.

Here's an AP dispatch from Ferlic's 2000 campaign:
Nebraska's campaign-finance law has become subject to a lawsuit in the wake of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents race.

Regents candidate Randy Ferlic discovered a loophole in the law and filed a $300,000 revised spending estimate Sept. 8. He claims the 1992 campaign-finance law, which calls for voluntary spending limits, is unconstitutional and violates his right to freedom of speech.

His lawsuit, filed in Lancaster County District Court, says the state has no compelling interest in ensuring candidates have similar funds when campaigning for office. Ferlic's revised estimate would allow him to spend $120,000 before his opponent, Rosemary Skrupa, could receive any funds.

The voluntary limit on spending in the regent's race is $25,000, which Skrupa has agreed to. If Skrupa remains under that spending limit and Ferlic goes above it, she is entitled to state funds. He reported to the Accountability and Disclosure office Sept. 8 — after being denied a temporary restraining order that would have kept the state from enforcing the law — that he plans to spend an additional $300,000 to gain a spot on the board.

Ferlic's spending in the race so far has jumped from twice the voluntary spending limit at $50,000 to almost six times the limit.

To break that down for everyone, Ferlic purposefully raised his estimate and held-off to the last minute for a MASSIVE all-out spending assult that wouldn't give Skrupa the opportunity to collect her share of public funds by dancing around the figure that would trigger their disbursement until it was too late for them to do any good. Ferlic's winning strategy was dirty, slick, and showed total disdain for the spirit of Nebraska law.

Oh, but that was Ferlic in 2000. Here he is in 2005:
University of Nebraska Regent Randy Ferlic, who spent $290,000 to get elected five years ago, said Wednesday he will abide by the state's voluntary spending limit of $50,000 when seeking re-election in 2006.

As an incumbent, Ferlic said, he no longer needs to spend large amounts of money to gain name recognition with voters.

The Nebraska campaign finance law has been in the news since Regent David Hergert of Mitchell, who spent nearly $90,000 to defeat incumbent Don Blank in November, paid fines of $33,000 for failing to meet filing deadlines.

The violations kept Blank from receiving state funds....

Ferlic's spending in 2000 to unseat incumbent Rosemary Skrupa set a record for regent races. That was topped in 2002 when winner Howard Hawks of Omaha spent $405,000.

Now Ferlic is on the other side of the fence. If a challenger spends the money necessary to win, he said, he would receive state funds to help with his campaign.

The World-Herald fails to mention that Hergert - "The Degenerate Regent" - not only had to pay more than $30,000 in fines for ineptly following Ferlic's campaign strategy but faces a call from a majority in the state legislature as well as a fellow regent to resign, risking impeachment for his dishonorable actions if he fails to comply. Hergert is also under investigation by the state attorney general.

If I were Ferlic in the wake of that much criticism, I'd be damn careful myself to avoid the improper, unethical means that carried him into office to begin with. The sad thing is that his 2000 campaign has had a corrupting influence on the Board of Regents in every race that has followed, making manipulation of money and the public's trust the central form of campaigning...all for an UNPAID position that is supposed to be about safe-guarding the public's investment in higher education.

If these men (Ferlic, Hawks, Hergert - all Republicans) are going to be this corrupt in their own management of funds, how can the people possibly trust them with the purse-strings of the University system?

Already a Republican candidate for the open District 4 seat, Jim Nagengast, has vowed to follow in these treacherous footsteps by not following the spending limits - opening his candidacy up to the highest bidder. His only announced opponent, Lawrence Bradley, hasn't decided yet, but - seriously - what choice does he have?

Ferlic and friends have already polluted the entire well, and most of Nebraska hasn't made a peep. That gives a candidate like Bradley two options: keep drinking that dirty water or drown...unless, of course, the people of this state stand-up in the face of this corruption and finally demand better in Nov. '06.


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