Friday, July 14, 2006

Questions That Need Answering - Abuse of Nebraska's Petition Process

by Kyle Michaelis
Those responsible for pushing the ballot measures supporting Constitutional amendments imposing a state spending lid and stripping families of the choice to remove loved ones from life support have some very serious questions to answer for the people of Nebraska.

Here's what we know: Stop Over Spending Nebraska and the Nebraskans for Humane Care Committee received all of their funding - every penny they've reported to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission - from the Montana-based America At Its Best. America At Its Best, meanwhile, reports to the NADC that all of its contributions come from the Illinois-based Americans for Limited Government. So, basically, SOS Nebraska and NHCC appear to be shell organizations being used by a shell organization to funnel money from Illinois to Nebraska by way of Montana.

Ya' dig?

In addition, SOS Nebraska and NHCC each report approximately a quarter of a million dollars less in contributions from America At Its Best - as of June 25, 2006 - than AAIB reports contributing to these organizations almost three weeks earlier. That's half a million dollars that has found its way into the Nebraska political process that remain totally unaccounted for, violating this state's every requirement of full public disclosure.

SOS Nebraska reports $380,000 from AAIB. AAIB reports $620,000 to SOS Nebraska. NHCC reports $355,000 from AAIB. AAIB reports $605,000 to NHCC. Those sorts of numbers simply speak for themselves.

Both SOS Nebraska and NHCC set up PO Boxes at which they made payments to a signature-gathering outfit called Renewal Voter Outreach. Both groups also referred to these respective PO Boxes as their "Petition Office" - SOS Nebraska even making a $270,000 payment to the "Petition Office" in its lastest NADC filing statement.

Renewal Voter Outreach has no apparent history in Nebraska before these petition-gathering efforts. It's name is eerily-reminiscent of National Voter Outreach, a corporation that has worked on similar such petitions nationwide, having faced multiple charges of fraud all over the country - from forged signatures in Florida, to false registrants in Nevada, not to mention the names of the dead appearing on their petitions in Michigan.

Furthermore, Thomas Mann - Treasurer of NHCC and organizer of its petition effort - has taken $4,000 from the organization for "contract services." Alexis Mann - of the same address - has received $4,000 in payment from the NHCC (by way of Montana, by way of Illinois) as well.

So, these are the questions that demand the immediate attention of the Nebraska press, the Accountability and Disclosure Commission, or the Attorney General's office for the elucidation of the voting public.

1) Is Renewal Voter Outreach a subsidiary of National Voter Outreach? If so, is the change in name related to the charges of unethical and illegal practices NVO and its petitioners have faced across the country?

2) To what degree are SOS Nebraska and NHCC operating as a single entity? Beyond their use of the same petition-gathering company and their shared use of a false distinction between Renewal Voter Outreach and their own "Petition Office", how is it possible that their NADC filings reflect such similar quarter-of-a-million dollar discrepancies with America At Its Best's own reports?

3) What is the nature of Thomas and Alexis Mann's contractual relationship with NHCC? Are they being paid by the out-of-state AAIB to do little more than attach their names to this effort so it has some relation to Nebraska?

4) What is it about Montana law that encourages Americans for Limited Government to funnel millions of dollars through AAIB to petition organizers in Nebraska and other states?

5) What does a Constitutional amendment restricting the growth of government (state spending lid) have to do with an amendment expanding the reach of governement into one of the most difficult and painful decisions a family will ever make (ban on removal from life support)? To what degree are these joint efforts an attempt to unite religious conservatives with the anti-government, anti-taxation crowd - bringing both to the polls despite their lack of any true shared concern (smaller government vs. more powerful and intrusive government)?

6) What does America At Its Best do besides funneling money from out-of-state interests? Was its name chosen specifically to counteract the quite obvious fact that its work represents so much of money-dominated democracy in America At Its Worst?

7) Did SOS Nebraska break any laws by reporting a $270,000 payment to the "Petition Office" rather than Renewal Voter Outreach, which shared the same address? What might SOS Nebraska or Renewal Voter Outreach stood to have gained from this false distinction?

8) Was America At Its Best lying by reporting contributions of $1.25 million to their Nebraska petition efforts as of June 5th? Were SOS Nebraska and NHCC lying by reporting less than 60% of that amount in contributions as of June 25th? Where is the missing $490,000?

These are, of course, just the beginning of the questions to which Stop Over Spending Nebraska, Nebraskans for Humane Care Committee, America At Its (Worst), and Americans for Limited Government owe the voters of Nebraska some answers. If readers have any questions of their own, please post them in the comments. And, by all means, please start asking these questions for yourselves and demanding that the press and responsible government agencies start asking them as well.

You deserve an answer. We deserve the truth.


Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...

By the way, does any of this sound familiar?

Hate to sound like Hillary Clinton, but can you say vast right-wing conspiracy?

Anonymous JFinNe said...

Kyle - I wish you would try to cross-post these articles to Republican websites/OWH/LJS. Also why not send copies to the Box # of the people receiving the money? This is all important news and needs more exposure.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good questions; been wondering why the discrepancy in the reports and where half the money to these two entities went....where is our Nebraska media all over this?? Why didn't these two "Nebraska petition drives" have to fully report who their vendors were; other than Renewal Voter Outreach...what about other groups/individuals that the petition drives did business with or paid for "services?" Inquiring minds want to know...keep it up.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that some action needs to be taken to expose this in th LJS and OWH.

The other important thing these petitions do is identify voters to right wing advocacy groups for mailings and fundraising drives.


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