By W. Don Nelson
This quotation is carved over the main entrance of the Nebraska State Capitol.
It is illegal for public funds to be used for campaign purposes. This is also common sense to the majority of Nebraskans. Federal, state and local government entities, including public power districts, natural resources districts and school districts, are not allowed to take money collected from ratepayers or taxpayers to support or oppose the outcome of an election.
Two cases before the Nebraska Supreme Court involve exactly this situation. Issues arose in the 2010 election season where Mike Van Buskirk filed two Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission (NADC) complaints against Rolland Skinner and Les Tlustos, who are the manager and marketing manager of Northwest Rural Public Power District in Hay Springs, Neb. According to legal documents reviewed by Prairie Fire, a dispute arose when two public power district employees ran over 170 radio advertisements addressing campaign issues central to the candidacy of then-candidate Van Buskirk. According to public documents, the Northwest Rural Public Power District employees used public funds to pay for them.