An investigation by Nebraska Watchdog has uncovered more questions surrounding a pair of $2,500 campaign contributions, one to Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman (R) the other to Attorney General Jon Bruning (R).
Earlier this week Heineman and Bruning returned the money, after the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission (NADC) notified them that there could be legal questions surrounding the TransCanada contributions. According to the Federal Election Commission foreign nationals are prohibited “from contributing, donating or spending funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly.”
TransCanada’s lobbyist at the State Capitol in Lincoln, Gordon Kissel, tells Nebraska Watchdog the contributions were legal because the company, which has an office in Omaha, is incorporated in Delaware.
According to Nebraska Watchdog’s investigation, the questionable donations were first discovered when an NADC auditor noticed Bruning’s campaign filing only carried the name TransCanada and a street address. There was no city or state listed. According to Daley the report simply said “TransCanada, 450 1st Street S. W.” When NADC checked further it realized that “450 1st Street S.W.” is TransCanada’s address in Calgary, Alberta.
Nebraska Watchdog asked Daley if his office would have found the questionable contributions if Bruning’s report had added the words “Omaha, Nebraska” as Heineman’s report had. Daley replied, “Probably not.”
Daley says it’s not clear why the campaigns made the incorrect entries.
Kissel, the lobbyist for TransCanada who insists the contributions were legal, tells Nebraska Watchdog he has “no idea” why Heineman and Bruning returned the donations.
Dennhardt says it was in the Heineman campaign’s “best interests to return the money.” Dennhardt then added, “The last thing you want to do as a fundraiser is give the money back.” The Lincoln Journal Star reported that Dennhardt said Heineman would have “absolutely no comment” on the contribution.
Heineman, who is running for re-election against Democrat Mike Meister, has raised nearly $2 million compared to Meister’s $83,000.
In late August during an exclusive interview with Nebraska Watchdog, Heineman took a hands off approach to TransCanada’s proposed XL Keystone Pipeline. Heineman said, “I just haven’t focused on that issue to any great extent because it’s a federal regulatory issue. So I’ve let our congressional delegation deal with that.”
Nebraska Watchdog has been unable to reach Bruning for comment. Bruning who is running unopposed for re-election has raised just over $900,000.
The Sierra Club of Nebraska, which opposes the pipeline, is asking the U.S. Attorney to investigate the TransCanada contributions. It’s not clear if an investigation will be launched.
Reported by Joe Jordan, firstname.lastname@example.org
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