Hergert Hits the Fanby Kyle Michaelis
The Lincoln Journal-Star reports:
A grand jury will determine whether University of Nebraska Regent Dave Hergert should be prosecuted for breaking state campaign finance law.
The grand jury can subpoena witnesses and provide additional evidence, said Attorney Gen. Jon Bruning as he announced that Lancaster County District Court Judge Karen Flowers will convene a grand jury in January. Bruning said he personally believes that Hergert broke state law.
After reviewing the evidence gathered by the Nebraska State Patrol, Bruning said he believes “there is credible evidence that Mr. Hergert violated the law.”
Although Bruning said his office can file charges directly, he believes the grand jury process will help uncover additional evidence and give the public greater trust in the system.
Hergert met once with investigators in September or October but refused to cooperate after that, Bruning said during a Monday morning news conference.
The state patrol cannot force people to talk with them, while the grand jury has subpoena powers, he pointed out....
“The bottom line is I want the truth. Nebraskans want the truth. And we deserve the truth,” said Bruning.
“Elections are a key part of our democracy, and the integrity of the electoral process must be taken seriously,” he said....
In addition to the campaign finance law, the grand jury may look at whether Hergert violated state laws prohibiting falsifying public records and making false statements under oath.
Included in Bruning's request to convene a grand jury, which was immediately granted, are a pair of interesting charges that suggest this case may be even more serious than previously thought.
Bruning specifically cites Nebraska Revised Statutes 28-901 and 28-924 as potential misdemeanors:
Section 28-901 - Obstructing government operations
A person commits the offense of obstructing government operations if he intentionally obstructs, impairs, or perverts the administration of law or other governmental functions by force, violence, physical interference or obstacle, breach of official duty, or any other unlawful act, except that this section does not apply to flight by a person charged with crime, refusal to submit to arrest, failure to perform a legal duty other than an official duty, or any other means of avoiding compliance with law without affirmative interference with governmental functions.
Section 28-924 - Official misconduct
A public servant commits official misconduct if he knowingly violates any statute or lawfully adopted rule or regulation relating to his official duties.
Both of these statutes go beyond the simple campaign violations that had previously been under investigation and suggest criminal conduct while an elected official - likely some form of obstruction of justice. As such, these offenses would most certainly be impeachable, regardless of the miserable and disgusting manner Hergert had hoped to weasel his way out of being held accountable by the state legislature.
Of course, these charges might just be a way of forcing Hergert's cooperation, but - from the boldness of Bruning's statements - I'm thinking there's a whole lot more to them than that.
Hergert is going down, and Nebraska will be better off for it. He should have done the decent thing and resigned months ago, sparing the state all these expenses and protecting the integrity of the University of Nebraska. Instead, he has embarrassed himself and his voters while degrading the University. For that, he has earned the people's contempt.
Hergert has brought this on himself by his arrogance and his disregard for the rule of law. At this point, I almost hope he continues in his delusional refusal to resign - though his increasingly likely resignation would certainly be better for Nebraska - just because he deserves to be prosecuted in the public eye as the impeachment process would assure.
Huskers Against Hergert have been all over this, hitting the nightly news and posting up a storm on their blog. Thanks again to this impressive UNL student organization for leading the charge to hold Hergert accountable and demanding ethcial conduct from our elected officials.
Two members also had a very funny but all-too-true Letter to the Editor in today's Daily Nebraskan, reading:
Finals Week is finally upon us and some of our peers may begin studying, but why? Why would one do such a thing when there is an easier, proven path to conquer the system? CHEAT!
We propose this week usually filled with stress and cramming be renamed "Cheaters Week!" This is a more appropriate and accurate title if we are going to follow the leadership of our fine university.
A few of our very own university regents cheated and broke state laws to win recent elections; at the same time we attempt to promote integrity and honesty in our academic institutions. We all know cheating is wrong, but if you get busted by your professor simply inform them their bosses promote such actions. We can't cheat, why can they?
So, forget about late night studying and that textbook you were supposed to read two months ago. Go ahead and cheat, it's your own regent endorsed method to success!
Jeff Armour & A.J. Bohac
Huskers Against Hergert
Well said, gentlemen. Keep up the fight. It seems like Hergert's day of reckoning just might be at-hand.