Monday, August 13, 2007

Is Nelnet Paying $1 Million Just to Save Jon Bruning's Senate Bid?

by Kyle Michaelis
Going along with the new poll you see on the front page, one has to wonder how Nelnet officials really feel about Attorney General Jon Bruning's million dollar flip-flop.

Dave briefly covered Bruning's decision to reinstate the fine on Nelnet this weekend. It was certainly the right decision, but it has to be frustrating as hell for Nelnet knowing they're paying $1 million to the state of Nebraska just so that Bruning doesn't look bad (or worse) in the press.

Just two days earlier they had to have been feeling pretty good thinking they were getting away from their $1 million deal having paid no more than $16,100 in individual contributions to Bruning's Senate campaign. Now, because of those contributions and the resulting appearance of corruption, they're paying another million dollars in de facto donations - literally bailing out Bruning from the mess he'd created.

Of course, that's a small portion of the $278 million Nelnet swindled from American taxpayers with no attempt at recovery by the Bush Administration so long as they promised not to do it again. So, the state of Nebraska is probably just seeing back the share it should have been owed (citizens in 49 other states won't be so lucky).

But, honestly, if we thought Bruning was in Nelnet's pocket when he forgave them their debt - probably as part of an agreement underneath the table if New York AG Andrew Cuomo didn't sign off on their million dollar deal - then, just how much deeper can he get then after actually making them pay?

This is corporate America we're talking about. An "E" for effort doesn't count for much. Nelnet is paying a million dollars to save Jon Bruning any more bad press. It's not a direct contribution to Bruning's Senate campaign, but don't think he isn't grateful. And, don't think for a second Nelnet is just writing this million dollars off. This is going under "Accounts Receivable" in their very long political ledger, and I'm sure a Senator Bruning (God help us) would see them very well-rewarded for their investment.

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