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Lawmaker Blasts News Report as Questions Grow

By   /   October 27, 2009  /   12 Comments

rogert 6

Nebraska State Senator Kent Rogert called a Nebraska Watchdog investigation “completely inaccurate” even as questions continue to grow about Rogert’s failure to pay the sales tax on his speedboat.

Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing told Nebraska Watchdog today he is looking at Rogert’s situation to see if any taxes are due.

Nebraska Watchdog first reported that Senator Kent Rogert has never paid the sales tax on his 1996 Baja 272, a 28 foot long, high performance boat with a 310 horsepower engine. An investigation by Nebraska Watchdog uncovered that Rogert operates the boat with a boat dealer registration number and has since he bought it several years ago. Boat dealers do not have to pay the sales tax on boats.

1996 Baja 272

1996 Baja 272

Two months ago Rogert told Nebraska Watchdog he dabbled in the boat business several years ago but added he is “…a real estate agent not a boat dealer.” On Monday Rogert sent an e-mail to Nebraska Watchdog insisting he was “absolutely” misquoted. According to Rogert he actually said, “I’m a real estate agent as well now.”

After receiving the e-mail Nebraska Watchdog tried to reach Rogert in order to ask him several follow up questions but Rogert has not responded.

On Monday, following Nebraska Watchdog’s exclusive investigation, the Lincoln Journal Star reported that Rogert said he does dabble in used boats. According to the newspaper, “Rogert said it may look like he was just trying to avoid paying sales tax.”

According to state and county officials the sales tax on a boat is paid the first time the boat is registered at the county treasurer’s office.  But Ewing says boat dealers, unlike car dealers, do not have to provide any proof that they are legitimate dealers. Ewing says when someone registers a boat and says they are a dealer they are, “taken at their word” and the sales taxes are not collected.

Betty Johnson, the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles’ Administrator of Driver and Vehicle Records, tells Nebraska Watchdog that unlike car dealers who are licensed to sell cars, boat dealers are not licensed by the State of Nebraska.

Paul Davis, the owner and general manager of Omaha Marine Center, says very few people know they can just walk in to the treasurer’s office, claim to be a dealer and walk out without paying the sales tax.  Davis says attempts to tighten the law have never been successful. Ewing told the Omaha World Herald today that he would support changes in the law to ensure that everyone pays a fair share of taxes.

The Journal Star also reported that Rogert “said the Watchdog Nebraska (sic) report contains errors, including when he bought the boat and its estimated potential price.” On Monday Rogert told the Journal Star he bought the boat in 2003. Two years ago Rogert told the Journal Star that, “this particular boat I got in 2001.”

Rogert told the World Herald that he uses the Baja monthly during the summer. In 2007 Rogert told the Journal Star the speedboat is “loud. It holds a lot of people and creates a lot of fun…I love my boat. That’s the thing I love the most.”

According to Ewing on December 5th, 2002 Rogert was given a boat dealer’s registration number: 019 AMT.  But on Rogert’s Statement of Financial Interests, a document that many state employees including senators must file with the State of Nebraska, there is nothing to indicate that Rogert, who was elected in 2006, sells boats. In his e-mail Rogert said, the Statement of Financial Interests is only required for sources of income over $1,000 and “none of the years filing this statement have earned me that amount from this venture.” Rogert also wrote, “I bought and sold a boat just in the last year and have tried to sell the boat (the 1996 Baja) on many different occasions.”

According to the Journal Star, Rogert would not say how much he paid for the speedboat. Rogert has also refused to tell Nebraska Watchdog what the boat cost him. Boat dealers estimate Rogert’s 1996 Baja would have cost about $40,000 in 2002, leaving a sales tax bill of at least $3,000. When Nebraska Watchdog initially contacted Rogert and asked if he paid the sales tax Rogert said, “I don’t remember.”

Editor’s note: to see Nebraska Watchdog’s initial news report on this issue click here.

Reported by Joe Jordan,


  • Ron

    Yawn…. another politician avoiding taxes.

  • Tracy

    Nice work, Joe!

  • Zach

    Lets worry more about what he’s doing to OUR taxes while in Lincoln, rather than figuring out what he is and isn’t paying sales tax on.

  • D. Mark

    While we are at it, let’s check every elected official in the State.

    Then Kent will be in a crowd.

  • One Out In The Third

    Rogert may be a boat dealer…but his boat income reveals he is not a very good one. Did he reveal how many boats he has actually sold?

  • Joe @ Sailing Turkey

    I think the personal affairs are of no importance when it comes to knowing what his plans are for the area and what its going to be like with him in charge. Everyone avoids taxes, its only a big thing when a politician does it, which for me is the least concern.

  • Saline County Guy

    Joe Jordan and — doing the job that the mainstream press won’t do.

    This is the type of journalism needed to answer today’s left-leaning J-school grads who get caught up in celebrity politicians.

    Thanks, Joe.

  • Big D

    Joe — Sorry man, gotta take you to task on this one… Why would you publish an article which clearly intends to call into question the character of the Senator, but then goes on to prove that he did absolutely nothing illegal? This whole thing borders on intentional defamation of character. If you disagree with the law, then write an article about the law. But your attempt to drag a public official through the mud on this makes it appear as though you are the one who is on the take. Now THAT would be a story.

  • Dave T

    Agree with Big D —– this is harrassment at best. Rogert did nothing illegal…..the marine dealer said it……the state law does nothing to prohibit anyone from claiming to be a boat dealer. If you sell one boat in 20 years……that classifies as being a boat dealer……..if you don’t like it Journal Star and NE Watchdog……then try to get the law changed……OR, become a boat dealer. Don’t blame Rogert for being aware of a tax loophole. All of us could use a few tax loopholes these days………..its the outrageous tax rates that should be reported about in a negative light.

  • Tax Attorney

    I’ve been included in taxes for lengthier then I care to admit, both on the private side (all my employed life-time!!) and from a legal point of view since passing the bar and pursuing tax law. I’ve supplied a lot of advice and rectified a lot of wrongs, and I must say that what you’ve posted makes perfect sense. Please persist in the good work – the more people know the better they’ll be armed to deal with the tax man, and that’s what it’s all about.

  • Tax Lawyer

    I’ve been engaged in taxations for longer then I care to acknowledge, both on the private side (all my working life history!!) and from a legal point of view since satisfying the bar and following up on tax law. I’ve put up a lot of advice and rectified a lot of wrongs, and I must say that what you’ve put up makes complete sense. Please carry on the good work – the more individuals know the better they’ll be outfitted to comprehend with the tax man, and that’s what it’s all about.

  • Tax Guy

    I’ve been engaged in taxes for longer then I care to admit, both on the individual side (all my working life!!) and from a legal point of view since satisfying the bar and following up on tax law. I’ve provided a lot of advice and righted a lot of wrongs, and I must say that what you’ve put up makes perfect sense. Please carry on the good work – the more people know the better they’ll be armed to deal with the tax man, and that’s what it’s all about.


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