Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Ugly Business Update: "The Montana Connection"

by Kyle Michaelis
Thanks to Patrick's comment below, it's been brought to my attention that SOS Nebraska's "Petition Office" uses the same Omaha mailing address as "Renewal Voter Outreach": PO Box 6566. How intriguing that RVO seems to have been set-up for the sole purpose of orchestrating this petition.

It's also worth noting that the mysterious Montana-based "America at Its Best" contributed $355,000 to the Nebraskans for Humane Care Committee, making them the sole sponsor of this second proposed amendment to bar families from removing loved ones from life support. And, this Committee - which submitted 137,000 signatures in support of its amendment - also funnelled the lion's share of that Montana money to Renewal Voter Outreach at a slightly different mailing address: Renewal Voter Outreach, PO Box 6210, Omaha, NE 68106.

It's hard to blame "America at Its Best" for this two-pronged approach. Not only do they get more bang for their buck, but they're also able to spread out their flood of unmarked, unaccounted for, out-of-state funds to make their entire effort seem less outrageous in the eyes of Nebraska voters who might otherwise start asking questions none of these folks want to answer. We're talking about almost $750,000 from sources unknown and unknowable.

What's kind of sad is that this information was actually reported by the Lincoln Journal-Star last week, though these eyebrow raising figures were basically buried in an article reporting on the financing of the gambling petition efforts. Those initiatives, however, are more transparent in both their financing and their motive, begging the question why the Nebraska media has not paid more attention to the Montana Connection.

Even when the Montana Connection has received some minimal media attention, the press has neglected to put the facts together to show how one mysterious organization - without accountability to the citizens of Nebraska - is seeking to manipulate our Democratic process for their own unknowable ends.

One other curious note that seems worthy of media attention is the fact that the reported organizer and Treasurer of the Nebraskans for Humane Care Committee, Thomas Mann of Omaha, has received a $4,000 payment for providing "Office Contractual Services." Alexis Mann, assumedly his wife or daugher as they share an address, also received a $4,000 payment of her own. One has to wonder just what services they've contracted to provide and with whom those contracts were made. If it's their organization and all its funding is coming from Montana, one might assume they're getting paid by out-of-state interests just to put their name on the petition to get it on the Nebraska ballot.

Curiouser and curiouser, eh? At least, Mike Groene of SOS Nebraska, hasn't profited (openly?) from his involvement with "the Montana Connection." Of course, maybe everything here is on the up-and-up, but there's no denying that there's a lot of strange stuff surrounding this whole situation about which the voters of Nebraska deserve some answers.

By the way, check out the Nebraskans for Humane Care Committee's website. I don't know if I've ever seen so little information. In fact, the only thing that even suggests this Committee has anything to do with Nebraska is its familiar mailing address: "The Humane Care Amendment Petition Office, P.O. Box 6210, Omaha, NE 68106."
Renewal Voter Outreach, PO Box 6210, Omaha, NE 68106.

A racket so nice, they used it twice. "They" being one powerful special interest about which next-to-nothing is known.

What does it all mean? I don't know, but clearly Mr. Groene and Mr. Mann have some very similar ideas about how to run their respective committees. Otherwise - you guessed it - they're not really in charge at all.


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