Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Who does Pete Ricketts think he's fooling?

by Kyle Michaelis
The Omaha World-Herald really should not allow itself to be used by the Pete Ricketts campaign as it was on Tuesday. Take a look, as the World-Herald gives Ricketts a forum to twist the facts in whatever manner he sees fit:
Pete Ricketts, who spent nearly $5 million of his own money in winning the GOP Senate primary in Nebraska, suggested Monday that his campaign might spend at least $2.5 million more in his bid to unseat Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb.

Ricketts said that between them, he and Nelson might spend $5 million to $6 million on the general election campaign. Ricketts didn't say how much of his own money he might kick in for the race....

According to his most recent report to the Federal Election Commission, Ricketts has raised $598,563 from individuals and political action committees. He loaned his campaign about $4.9 million for the May 9 primary....

His spokeswoman, Trisha Meuret, said Ricketts is treating that loan as a contribution from his personal wealth and does not expect to seek repayment through campaign donations.

"I don't think Nebraska voters care how much money I have," Ricketts said. "What they're interested in is what am I going to do for the state and country and what am I going to represent (them) and what am I going to work for"....

He contended that Nelson had raised $10 million since 1995 in political campaigns for the Senate. "That doesn't come for free. That means he's got special interests who've got his ear," Ricketts said.

But he acknowledged he is raising money from political action committees - often linked to businesses, advocacy groups or associations that lobby Congress - and asserted that's different from Nelson's fundraising activities.

"The PACs give me money because they believe in me because they know that, with my own means, I'm not going to be someone who is beholden to somebody because they wrote me a check," Ricketts said.

Good lord. Where does the propaganda end and the journalism begin? Does it ever?

First things first, I'd like to point out how ridiculous it is for Ricketts to suggest he's only going to spend $2.5 million in the general election. If the man is serious about winning - if he thinks he has an actual shot at winning - he'll be spending a hell lot more than that.

I mean, come on! Ricketts spent almost $5.5 million to defeat the lowly and hapless Don Stenberg in the Republican primary. Now, he's facing a candidate of a completely different caliber - who the people of Nebraska actually like - and Ricketts honestly wants us to believe he's going to show some restraint.

Ha! The way Ricketts was throwing money around in the primary, I'd almost be surprised if his first $2.5 million even carried him through Labor Day before the hammer comes out to break open Daddy Ricketts' piggy bank.

As for this nonsense about Nelson being more beholden to special interests just because he has a broad base of supporters who will actually contribute to his campaign, it would be nice if Ricketts was able to back up such a slanderous charge by pointing to any votes where there was even the faintest hint of impropriety.

Of course, Ricketts has no record to run on, but the fact that he won't even talk about Nelson's record - relying, instead, on generalizations, accusations, and innuendo - suggests there's plenty more BS to come over the course of the campaign.

And, again, who does Ricketts think he's fooling by funding his campaign with personal loans yet claiming he has no intention to seek repayment? If that doesn't send your BS Meter a-blazing, it's time to get it in the shop for a tune-up. Seriously, this is a common campaign trick, but it's the truly rare candidate who will openly deceive voters to this extent.

Sen. Chuck Hagel followed a similar repayment scheme with his own fortune when he ran in 1996 - cashing in on PAC money later on, when he got into office - but, to my knowledge, he at least never made so dishonest a statement as this about his true intentions. By making his campaign contributions "loans", Ricketts has purposefully left the door wide open to seek repayment. To suggest that he won't do exactly that should he win is a bald-faced (perhaps I should say bald-headed) lie.

Finally, who else enjoys the irony of Ricketts saying that voters don't care about his massive personal fortune but rather what he's "going to do for the state and country"? From Ricketts' campaign so far, he himself doesn't seem to care much for what he'd do as a Senator, preferring to make an issue of Teddy Kennedy and Hillary Clinton being Democrats rather than talking about the challenges ahead or - God forbid - offering any actual solutions.

It's worth noting that, before the World-Herald allowed their pages to be manipulated like propaganda for Ricketts' purposes, they did offer this well-deserved but all-too-short rebuke in a Monday editorial:
It sure would be nice to have a campaign season that wasn't punctuated by political ads that insult the intelligence of Nebraska voters....How much better served Nebraska would be if political ads focused on specific policy differences between Ricketts and U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson rather than trotting out tiresome rhetoric about Clinton and Kennedy, those predictable bugaboos of the GOP hard right.

Ricketts is a joke. He's saying anything - absolutely anything - he can to gain a bit of traction against Nelson. It's just sad that the World-Herald will let him have a forum to do that absent a newsworthy event, some criticism of actual substance, or - at least - a more responsible effort to challenge those regurgitated talking points of Ricketts' that have wormed their way into the reporting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kyle - good post. I read that article and was flabbergasted at the World Herald's stenography skills. However, i don't think Ricketts should be too happy as his hypocrisy is blatant.

It's worth noting that the story says he gave that interview at the National Republican Senatorial Committee. I wonder if he is offended by how much PAC money they've raised or if they too are "special".

This guy so clearly thinks he is better than everyone else, it's sick.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i dont even know who the Ricketts really is - all i know is that my brother started working for him - about 70 hrs a week and gets paid less than min. wage - so where is the 5 mil when you need it??? Obviosuly tkaing it from paying people shit.


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