Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Ugly Business Afoot With State Spending Lids

by Kyle Michaelis
An anonymous blogger at DailyKos has done a bit of research that casts a dark cloud over the efforts of Stop Over Spending Nebraska - not just for the myserious sources of its out-of-state funding but also for its possible collusion with a signature-gathering company (National Voter Outreach) with a notorious track record for submitting fraudulent signatures.

SOS Nebraska submitted approximately 160,000 signatures before Nebraska's ballot petition deadline last week, well more than were actually needed to get the spending lid amendment on the November ballot. Still, with the history surrounding similar petition drives, Secretary of State John Gale had better be on the look-out for all sorts of illegal shenanigans.

SOS Nebraska has reported to the Accountability and Disclosure Commission receiving more than $380,000, every red cent of its funding, from the Montana-based outfit America At Its Best, about which almost nothing is known but their affiliation with another organization, Americans for Limited Government.

Alas, it's beyond my means to substantiate SOS Nebraska's potential ties to National Voter Outreach, but it's worth noting that the one company known to have been gathering signatures is the ever-so-similarly named Renewal Voter Outreach. Meanwhile, in it's ADC filing, SOS Nebraska reports payment only to an ominous-sounding "Petition Office" that claims a PO Box address in Omaha.

I won't begin to guess how deep the muck actually runs here. But, if anyone has any interesting theories, please post them in a comment. If anything, this whole ordeal suggests that those supporting ballot intitiatives should be held to a much higher standard of disclosure than they are at present - both in terms of whose money they're taking and where that money is going. A shell organization in Montana and "Petition Office" just don't cut it and make a mockery of our campaign finance laws.

While out-of-state forces have no doubt played a huge role in pushing for this amendment behind an illusion of grassroots action that suggests far more sinister political motivations, at the end of the day, none of that is really going to matter. The fate of this horribly irresponsible and reactionary idea rests with the people of Nebraska, whom some powerful figures off in the distance obviously believe ripe for manipulation.

I trust we will teach them otherwise this November by rejecting their abominable proposal.


Anonymous Patrick said...

My theory is that “Renewal Voter Outreach” and the “Petition Office” are the exact same thing. Look at the address listed for each entity in the NADC filings:

6/1 filing:
PO BOX 6566 OMAHA NE 68106

7/3 filing:
PO BOX 6566 OMAHA NE 68106

Notice the exact same P.O. Box for each!

I would strongly encourage you and your readers to call up the NADC (402) 471-2522 and ask them to investigate whether this change in name was made solely for the purpose of concealing the nature of expenditures by SOS and is in any way a violation of Nebraska state law. (I’d do it but I no longer live in the state).

I’m curious as to whether “Petition Office” is even the name of a legitimate independent company to which SOS is making payments, or merely just the Omaha office of SOS. I’m not an expert on Nebraska campaign finance, but I would think that if they just transferred money to another office that they would still have to report to NADC how that office spent the funds. If “Petition Office” is an independent company maybe someone could look into whether they have made any filings with the NE Secretary of State to see who is behind their organization.

This is all very interesting from a group that claims to be fueled by local support.

Blogger Torrid said...

in Oregon we're fighting an out of state campaign to push a TABOR law on us as well...one that's worse than Colorado's, if you can believe it.

Dig into Grover Norquist's C&Es, and also check out a group called Freedomworks. They are running the show for all of the ones across the country, moneywise.

Here's our latest piece on the TABOR scam in OR...good luck outing the bastards in NE!

Blogger Rick Galusha said...

I am looking into this issue in order to learn more. I don't understand what "sinister motives" you are referring to. I would like to learn more.

To be up front, I am working with SOS Nebraska and I want to better understand both sides of this issue.


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