Hergert Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fryer?by Kyle Michaelis
With this week's announcement by Attorney General Jon Bruning that he would not be filing charges against Hergert, at the same time releasing evidence of Hergert's felonious criminal misconduct, this case seems finally to be nearing its close. Although one can argue with Bruning's decision not to prosecute further - coming to the conclusion that his hands were tied by Hergert's settlement with the Accountability and Disclosure Commission for violations of Nebraska campaign finance laws - the mounting evidence that now stands before the state legislature of Hergert's flagrant violations might just be enough to force senators who'd previously leaned against impeachment to take action.
The Omaha World-Herald reports:
State Sen. Mike Flood for months has been at the forefront of lawmakers who believe the State Constitution does not allow impeachment of NU Regent David Hergert for campaign finance offenses committed before he took office.
Now, Flood says, the situation may have changed.
A newly released Nebraska State Patrol report on its investigation of the case alleges that Hergert filed a campaign report containing false information on Jan. 11, 2005 - six days after he took office.
"I was steadfastly against impeaching Mr. Hergert, prior to reviewing the investigative reports," Flood said Tuesday. "I wasn't aware of any alleged fraudulent filings that had occurred after he took office. Since I learned about the January 11, 2005, filing, I've been reconsidering my position."
The Norfolk senator is one of 11 lawmakers on a special committee exploring what actions the Legislature may take after Hergert refused lawmakers' demand for his resignation....
Last summer, Flood authored a legal brief arguing his position against impeachment. He disputed the position taken by State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, who argued in his own brief that campaign misconduct may be grounds for impeachment....
State Sen. Vickie McDonald of St. Paul, said she's no lawyer and doesn't know if the Legislature has legal grounds to impeach Hergert.
Nonetheless, she leans toward voting for impeachment, if it reaches that point.
"It appears to me there were some things done intentionally, and that's what disturbs me. I was surprised at what lengths someone would go to win an election," McDonald said.
McDonald said she didn't buy Hergert's rationale that Nebraska's campaign law is difficult to follow.
"This wasn't his first election," she said. "In first elections, there's a lot to learn and papers to file. . . . When it's not your first election and you've been through it before, to me there's no excuse for not getting it right."
Hergert ran for the U.S. Senate in 2000.
State Sen. Ed Schrock of Elm Creek, who led the early call for Hergert's resignation, said he doubts the Legislature will do anything further.
"My opinion is that when we passed the resolution (demanding resignation), he should have hung his head and resigned," Schrock said. "If he's going to serve and we're not going to proceed . . . it's going to be a service of shame. That's just the way it is."
A "service of shame"? Is the state legislature really so lacking in courage and principle that it will allow such an affront to stand? Are Hergert's stubbornnes and total lack of integrity really enough to break their will? What a shame that would be for this state and for the rule of law.
If Hergert will not step down, the legislature has the obligation to pursue his impeachment...for all to see, that some measure of justice can finally be brought. If hearings do not result in his expulsion from the Board, let him at least stand before the students and voters of Nebraska upon whom he has brought so much disgrace. Let him be brought from out of the shadows in which he has hidden to be held accountable before all those whom he betrayed in his campaign and whom he mocks by his shamefully presiding over one of this state's most precious institutions.
I ask the state senate to take a good, hard look at the World-Herald's write-up on the state patrol's interview of Hergert's own campaign treasurer, Mike Jacobsen.
In the interview, Jacobson tells how he voiced concerns to Hergert about how the campaign was reporting its finances but that Hergert knew "how to play it to the edge"....
"Jacobson stated that Hergert explained that when the ... affidavit was mailed ... it would not arrive until Monday, Nov. 1, 2004, and at that time it would be too late for his opponent to react to the report, or the ads."
Jacobson also said, "As you go back and look at the chain of events ... does [Hergert] know the rules and does he know how to play it to the edge? Yeah, I'm pretty convinced he does.
This is the edge, Senators. The time to make your stand is now. Hergert has played his waiting game long enough. Do what's right. Call his bluff. All it takes is the will to expose Hergert for what he is and to finally bring an end to this pathetic charade.
Cast away the clouds. Let justice be done. If the People of Nebraska will never have their day in court, at least let them hear the full story of Hergert's deceit. Let them see his true face - the lies, the masquerade - that they may know it and never be fooled by his like again.