Monday, February 13, 2006

COUNTERPOINT: Bruning Shooting Blanks?

by Kyle Michaelis
In my latest update to the "Dave Hergert Disgrace File" immediately below, is it possible I - like many Nebraskans and seemingly the state's two major newspapers - have been hoodwinked by Attorney General Jon Bruning, letting our desire for a champion to take on this blight on our state government overcome our meager understandings of the rule of law?

That's what's been suggested at Nebraska State Paper, where - first - Ed Howard challenges Bruning to quit with the needless grand jury theatrics and just press charges already. Then, in the comments below that article, the 2002 Democratic nominee for Attorney General, Mr. Mike Meister, suggests that Bruning is in over his head on this one. Meister writes:
What a mess.

John Bruning doesn't want to charge Dave Hergert. He was hoping that the secrecy of the grand jury would give him cover from the fire storm that is currently taking place.

Any prosecutor worth his salt knows that the deal cut by accountability and disclosure is binding on the state. It is a state agency and it has the authority to bring criminal charges. The choice not to do so binds the state regardless of the belief of...John Bruning . It wouldn't surprise me if the criminal division of the AG's office has already told Mr. Bruning that is the case. (Some investigative reporter ought to snoop around)

If the Attorney General does not want state agencies speaking for the state on criminal matters he needs to issue an order to all those state agencies with police authority that they have no authority to deal away criminal charges without the Attorney General's explicit blessing. It won't help in this case but it will avoid the problem the next time around.

Hmm. I really can't believe it's such an open and shut case as that, but in 2002 Meister was running with a lot more legal credentials than his opponent. Maybe he's right, though I can't believe Bruning - with all the state's resources - would go out on a limb so shaky.

Would be a damn shame, regardless, because Hergert's escaping prosecution and potentially remaining in office if the legislature finds it doesn't have the authority to impeach would be a terrible blow to the voters' faith in Nebraska's campaign laws. Who knows how this case will turn out? It's already seen the bastardization of the Hergert name. Now, just when Bruning was emerging as a defender of this state's democratic institutions, his motives and competence have suddenly come into question.

Strange days, indeed. Stay tuned.


Post a Comment

<< Home