S-13-0389) Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission (Appellant) v. Rolland Skinner and Northwest Rural Public Power District and Gary Fuchser (Intervenors)
S-13-0390) Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission (Appellant) v. Les Tlustos and Northwest Rural Public Power District and Gary Fuchser (Intervenors)
Lincoln County, Judge Donald Rowlands
Attorneys: David A Jarecke, Vanessa A. Silke (Blankenau Wilmoth Jarecke LLP) (for Northwest Rural Public Power District and Gary Fuchser, Intervenors) --- Terri Curtiss (Curtiss Moravek & Curtiss PCLLO) (Appellees Skinner and Tlustos) --- Neil B. Danberg (Attorney General’s Office) (for NADC, Appellant)
Civil: Administrative Procedures Act appeal; violation of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 49-14,101.02; use of public resources for campaigning
Proceedings below: The NADC investigated a complaint filed by a political candidate who alleged that public funds were being used to buy radio advertisements prior to an election in order to oppose the candidate. After a hearing, the hearing officer found the public employees had violated the statute. The NADC imposed a civil penalty of $2,000 in each case. Respondents/employees filed petitions for review under the Administrative Procedures Act. The district court allowed intervention by NRPPD and one of its directors. The district court reversed the NADC’s Order, finding in order to violate the statute, the name or other specific reference to the candidate must be explicitly stated in order for there to be “campaigning” in violation of the statute.
Issues: The district court erred in (1) finding that the public employees’ use of public funds under the facts of this case did not constitute a violation of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 49-14, 101.02(02) and in reversing and setting aside the NADC’s order; (2) its interpretation of the statute; (3) finding that the public employees, spending public funds, under the facts of this case, have First Amendment Rights; (4) finding the employees did not violate the statute as it does not conform to the law and is neither reasonable nor based upon competent evidence.