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April 17, 2011


Fire union speaks with dollars, not words

by Deena Winter

You’d think with Nebraska on the precipice of becoming the next Wisconsin battlefield over unions, the Lincoln firefighters union would be an active participant in the municipal campaign now in full swing.

But they’ve been unusually quiet. No announcements of endorsements (which come with up to $15,000 campaign contributions), no reports of firefighters campaigning door-to-door for their favorite candidates. What’s up?

Certainly, the fire union’s last labor contract with the city of Lincoln — which gives some of them up to 11 percent in raises — led to a lot of raised eyebrows and unfavorable press. Perhaps they feel it’s better to lay low this election.

However, the fire union is still spending money on the campaign, although through different channels. State campaign finance reports show the Lincoln Firefighters Association PAC contributed $30,000 to the Nebraska Democratic Party in March. In other recent city elections, the fire union has donated directly to candidates. But this campaign, so far they have given their money to the state Dems — who in turn have spent money in support of Mayor Chris Beutler and Councilman Jonathan Cook. (That’s as of March 21, those numbers will undoubtedly change by Election Day.)

The only campaign money I could find from the fire union to support a candidate was $2,289 in support of Bobbi Kosmicki — who’s running against the fire union’s nemesis, Republican Jon Camp, in southeast Lincoln.

Beutler also gave the state party $12,560.

All of which indicates to me that the fire union is still very much a factor in this election, but they’re trying to keep a low profile by giving money through other conduits.

The campaign finance reports also indicate the Lancaster County Democrats are not very involved (not in receiving or spending money, anyway).

(One interesting side note: While I was trolling the spending reports, I came across a $75,000 donation the Ohio Democratic Party gave the Nebraska Democratic Party in October. )

Another curiosity: The state records indicate the Lincoln Firefighters PAC dissolved itself not long after giving that 30 grand. I’ve emailed the union head to ask why.

The reports indicate the Republican Party hasn’t spent much money on its Republican candidates for the City Council. As of April 5, the Lancaster County Republican Party had only donated $500 to Travis Nelson and $500 to Melissa Hilty. And get this, they gave a whopping $150 to Republican mayoral candidate Tammy Buffington. Go figure.

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jane H Kinsey
    Apr 17 2011

    What is the matter with the Lancaster County Republican Party? They are hardly active in this election and couldn’t come up with their own viable candidates. It looks as though they are giving the City up to the Democrats. Too bad but maybe Republicans don’t want to be responsible when the house of cards the Democrats are building falls.

  2. michaeljames4laa
    Apr 17 2011

    Keep digging Deena, we appreciate your work. As the old saying goes, cash is king!

  3. Mugwumps
    Apr 17 2011

    Here’s a theory: We are seeing the tail end of local Demoicratic “strength”. It is led by a mayor who has been very adept at building a coalition of both local parties. In the next two years we will see that resurgence of the other side.

    In Lincoln there is only one party – the mugwumps who largely control the agenda, economic, social and political, aided and abetted by the locla print media conglomerate. The so-called centrists have Rs and Ds next to their name but have their mug on one side of the fence and their rumps on the other, hence mugwumps. They avoid ideological purity and it makes for a blend of outcomes that look and feel the way they do – the best Lincoln can come up with at this time.

    By the way, that’s precisely why Winter was so refreshing and such a vaible candidte running against the machine.
    All the news that’s fit to print ; the truth behind the headlines ; the rest of the story. and keeping it real. The watchfulness of the citizen is indeed the salvation of the City.

  4. Roger Yant
    Apr 17 2011

    Well, I have been quiet on this now for over 30 days. I stopped down to the republican headquarters about a month ago. I went in and asked for the boss, I got him, and was very nice in my questioning him. Why isn’t the party helping out the mayoral candidate? Answer was short and to the point, “we have no money to help out.” What I asked, there are tons of people (republicans) in town, get on the phone and start calling them. His response was, we told the Buffington campaign they could use our building any time, we gave her mailing lists. Gee how nice of you guys. I personally believe that the republican party and groups like LIBA are all benefiting from the Beutler administration and all the money (our money) that is being spent here in Lincoln. Republicans where are you, lost in the bright lights of the Arena project and how you can benefit from it? This is shameful the way they have treated the Tammy Buffington campaign. Democrats, you know how to fight for your party and candidates who run for office, way to go. I am an independent not a republican, they (republicans) are becoming a party to be ashamed of.

    • ej
      Apr 19 2011

      Read between the lines: They have no money to throw down a rat hole. They have no good money to throw after bad. Pick your cliche. Bottom line: They have no money to waste on a candidate that cannot win.

  5. money
    Apr 17 2011

    The current Mayor is the best republican the city has I believe he is taking money from both sides. Its simple His doing there biding. We know the door swings open for who ever has the money Maybe thats why the party has no money.

  6. Observer
    Apr 18 2011

    Lincoln has among the lowest unemployment in the nation, Forbes Magazine listed Lincoln as the #1 city for new jobs. Whatever Beutler is doing is WORKING. His success has little to do with tired political dogma and everything to do with him being a successsful administrator and pragmatic problem solver.

  7. money
    Apr 18 2011

    That because

  8. YouGlow
    Apr 20 2011

    They have a very strong union!: )

  9. coach
    Apr 21 2011



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