Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pete Ricketts: If At First You Don't Succeed - BUY, BUY Again

by Kyle Michaelis
The Clown Prince of the Nebraska Republican Party Returns
Hal Daub just resigned as National Committeeman for the Nebraska Republican Party, prompting the Lincoln Journal-Star to print the following story that shows our old friend Pete Ricketts re-entering the political scene:
In a prelude to a possible Senate bid, Hal Daub resigned Monday as the Nebraska Republican Party's national committeeman.  
Pete Ricketts, the party's 2006 Senate nominee, emerged as the most likely successor to Daub. Republicans will fill the vacancy at their state central committee meeting in Kearney Nov. 17.

This calls for a quick history lesson. Probably the most inexcusable unreported story of Nebraska's 2006 elections was the money flooding in to the Nebraska Republican Party and its candidates from the multi-billion dollar family fortune of Senate challenger Pete Ricketts.
Ricketts was not content to spend more than $12 million dollars from his Ameritrade trustfund on his own laughing-stock Senate campaign - so fundamentally flawed that it saw him lose to Sen. Ben Nelson by nearly 30%, with 56% of Nebraska voters actively disliking him by the end of the race. He also dropped campaign donations in the thousands of dollars all across the state - as if they were nothing more than bread crumbs. 

Most notable was the way Ricketts coordinated the funneling of close to $100,000 to the Nebraska Republican Party - with nine members of his extended family contributing the full $10,000 allowable by law. Also worth noting was the thousands of dollars Pete and his parents contributed to Don Stenberg to help pay-off Stenberg's campaign debt after losing to Ricketts in the Republican primary.

That might be a nice gesture - helping a vanquished foe who's fallen on hard times - but this was at the same time that he was running his own multi-milllion dollar self-funded campaign. Could Ricketts have made it any more clear that money meant absolutely nothing to him? Honestly, is it any wonder that a guy like that would fail to connect with the people of Nebraska? That they would - in fact - end up hating him?

Still, it makes sense that Ricketts would end up re-emerging in the Nebraska Republican Party's hierarchy. The people of Nebraska don't have to like him for Republican candidates to be very grateful when he writes them a check. For all of his own failures as a candidate, there's no denying that the kind of money he was dropping in Nebraska politics was bound to buy Ricketts some loyalty. Republicans up and down the ballot hardly even had to ask before having thousand dollar hand-outs thrust in their direction.

And, that mentality didn't end with the 2006 election. Ever since, Ricketts seems to have been just as busy as ever writing campaign checks and buying his party's loyalty with cold, hard cash.
Let's just take a look at who Ricketts has been contributing to lately (since the 2006 election):
$8,000 to Ken Svoboda (failed candidate for Mayor of Lincoln)  
$5,000 to Jim Vokal (Ambitious Omaha City Councilman, not even up for re-election until 2009....additional $2,5000 contributed by Ricketts' father, Joe)  
$1,000 to Jon Camp (independently wealthy incumbent on Lincoln City Council)  
$1,000 to John Erickson (failed candidate for Lincoln City Council)  
$2,300 to John Thune (U.S. Senator from South Dakota, up for re-election in 2010) $1,000 to Pat Roberts (U.S. Senator from Kansas, up for re-election in 2008)  
$4,600 to Chuck Hagel (U.S. Senator from Nebraska who already received tons of free advertising from Ricketts in 2006)  
$4,600 to Jeff Fortenberry (maxing-out to 1st District Congressman's 2008 re-election campaign)  
$500 to Lee Terry (spare change from under Ricketts' sofa cushion for his own Congressman in Nebraska's 2nd District)  
$5,000 to "For Our Republic's Traditions Fund", aka "Fort Fund" (Fortenberry's very own "Leadership PAC", i.e. mechanism to skirt campaign finance laws and buy influence in Washington D.C.)  
$5,000 to Sandhills PAC (Chuck Hagel's "Leadership PAC")  
$10,000 to Nebraska Republican Party (just another drop in the bucket)
Are you starting to get a sense of why Ricketts is the favorite to replace Daub in the Nebraska Republican Party? Those are some heavy-hitters, and that is a lot of money.

Not to mention, everyone knows there's more where that came from.

Of course, what I find most funny is all the various occupations Pete Ricketts reports for himself on the above campaign filings. They range from Ameritrade Executive to Director of the "Platte Institute for Economic Research" (whatever that is). A few times, Ricketts even declares himself "Retired" (at, I believe, the ripe old age of 42).

No, we haven't seen the last of Pete Ricketts in Nebraska politics, and I say thank God for that. Despite all the money in the world, with this guy calling the shots - so disconnected from the people of Nebraska and their real world concerns - the Nebraska Republican Party might be flush with cash but will only become further removed from the common people already struggling to find a reason to continue identifying with this party that has become so synonymous with greed, corruption, failure, and lies.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home