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April 25, 2011


Dems’ smear campaign begins

by Deena Winter

Well, here it is. The ugliest piece of campaign literature I’ve seen so far in this spring’s municipal election campaign: The Nebraska Democratic Party send out a mailing late last week bashing the Republican candidate for the City Council, in District 3. The headline: “Travis Nelson can’t manage his own money.”

Their evidence? He hasn’t paid his child support since July 2009. He owes his divorce attorney nearly $5,400. And he owes Pella $2,700, according to a small claims judgment in county court. Ouch.

This is the deal, folks. If you want to run for elective office around here, you’d better not have any skeletons in your closet, because they will find them. The Democrats are particularly good at digging up this kind of dirt. You may recall in the last City Council race, the Dems dogged Republican Adam Hornung for not paying the wheel tax on a pickup that he said was his father’s (who lives in another county).

I remember well the Dems’ press conference, during which they showed reporters pictures they’d taken of Hornung’s SUV in the parking lot of the law firm he works at. I wondered a) how they identified this potential chink in Hornung’s armor and b) was the head of the Democratic Party out skulking around in the parking lot, trying to get the photo?

This is what it’s come to. Somebody runs for office, and the other party sets about digging up dirt on them. To be fair, the Republicans actually launched the first salvo in the District 3 race, sending out a mailing noting that incumbent Councilman Jonathan Cook has missed 80 percent of City-County “Common” meetings.

Is that relevant? I think it is.

Is the fact that Nelson might have money problems relevant? The Dems’ mailer thinks so, asking people, “What kind of City Council member do you want? Responsible? Trustworthy? Budget Conscious? Travis Nelson IS NONE OF THESE THINGS.”

Does this mean the Democratic candidate in District 2, Bobbi Kosmicki, is not fit for office, too — given the news that she filed for bankruptcy last year?

I find it ironic that Democratic State Chairman Vic Covalt thinks it’s OK to do this kind of dirt-digging and spreading — considering he represents people in bankruptcy for a living. When I was a reporter, Covalt and I had several conversations about how The System treats poor people. I specifically remember him telling me I should go down to the courthouse every Friday and watch the parade of people who basically can’t afford to pay for things like car insurance and registration.

He fights for those people. And yet, in his other life as head of the Democratic Party — the party that ostensibly fights for the little guy — he slams a guy who can’t pay his bills for having the audacity to run for elective office.

I see hypocrisy in that. Do Vic and the Dems believe anybody who’s ever struggled financially — or at least to the point of it becoming a public record in a court of law — should not run for office? Is that the standard? Should it be? You tell me.

20 Comments Post a comment
  1. CS
    Apr 25 2011

    I think that Nelson as a potential felon (child support) and not having paid Pella and lost in court are rather relevant for someone that is running for mayor.

  2. NotMe
    Apr 25 2011

    Ah, one of the reasons America is in the mess we’re in today. CS said: “. . .for someone that is running for mayor.”

    Great article Deena but when the masses don’t even know who is running for what it’s downright scary knowing that these people vote! Even if the vote is based on something loosely resembling a logical argument.

  3. Roger C
    Apr 25 2011

    It doesn’t matter if it’s relevant or not; the bigger issue is that we have way too many people here like CS who can’t even pay attention to the most obvious details, and then we want EVERYONE to vote. I don’t think so.

  4. kewball
    Apr 25 2011

    Only now can one say “both sides do it”; last week the District 3 field of dirty politics belonged to the Republicans. *Golf clap*

  5. Gene
    Apr 25 2011

    The Hornung thing is a bit silly, but all of the court cases are public information. If someone doesn’t want that kind of information out there, the solution is simple: pay your bills. Has Travis Nelson responded to this?

    I’m sure you’re not imply this, but saying that missing some meetings is equal to not owning up to your responsibility as a parent is a bit like calling a plate of bacon and eggs the Boston Marathon.

  6. Huskerfan
    Apr 25 2011

    This isn’t a matter of a “little guy” in financial trouble. This is a guy who hasn’t made a child support payment since July 2009. He doesn’t take care of his own children, that’s bad, bad, bad. Not even make an attempt to get $50 here, $100 there, no matter how hard up you are for Pete’s sake do the best you can for your own children. Do ANYTHING. July 2009 without even a $50 payment is completely unacceptable.

  7. ej
    Apr 25 2011

    And last week the Dems claimed that pointing out Mr. Cook’s poor meeting attendance record was dirty. Clowns.

  8. Local Attorney
    Apr 25 2011

    The Democrats in this town are wusses. Do a quick criminal background check on Travis Nelson and you’ll see he plead guilty to “disturbing the peace” for an incident that happened at his own residence.

    Travis, how were you “disturbing the peace” at your own residence? What was the original charge? Why were the police called to your home?

    This is why this state will always be dominated by Republicans, the Democrats don’t have the guts to go after opponents for this kind of stuff. If they found the rest of the skeletons they would have known about this too.

    • ej
      Apr 25 2011

      Simple. The Dems know if they did too deep, the skeletons in their own closets will start falling out.

  9. Dan Bretta
    Apr 25 2011

    I personally do find this relevant Deena…As I also find it relevant how many meetings a council member missed..and yes that includes the meetings that Cook doesn’t think are important. I’d be curious to find out how much of his own money Travis Nelson spent on his campaign.

  10. Dan Bretta
    Apr 25 2011

    According to Nelson’s own website he enjoys hunting, fishing, camping and taking flying lessons…If he’s done ANY of these things since July of 2009 when he stopped paying child support he is not fit to have a say in how this city spends money.

  11. Roberta
    Apr 25 2011

    Republicans wake up, you could probably have a bunch of these positions, if you put up credible candidates!

    This was an election that you could have gained ground, but you lost out.

    Guess they way things go only 5% of the eligible voters will vote.

  12. CS
    Apr 25 2011

    CIty council, then. It doesn’t make my argument any less relevant. I tire of local politics, and vote rarely-the same people get elected every time. The name changes, but their self interest stays the same.

    • Roger C
      Apr 26 2011

      Then why bother to comment? I’m personally glad you don’t vote – there’s already enough ignorance to go around.

  13. CM
    Apr 26 2011

    But what is truth? Do we actually care, or just buy whatever drivel is plastered on a card and mailed.
    What if he’s not only paid, but willingly overpaid?
    Has anyone asked the lawyer if this is true?
    And Pella, well this is just my own experiences, but the name alone makes me want to question the veracity of anything they say. Bad track record in my book.
    And of course, where in the world does this stuff even originate? Think about this a little. All this garbage appears out of thin air, all at the same time, shortly before election.
    Who in your lives would know, or think they know, anything about your child support, your bills, your lawyer, your finances, your business? Pretty narrow field.
    Oh wait, there’s an ex wife. Guess who tops my list of probable suspects.
    I hope he does sue them. This kind of thing just ruins everyone’s perception of every public office, regardless of viewpoint or party affiliation.

    • Apr 26 2011

      I think it’s standard procedure for some party operatives to do a criminal background check, and check of courts to see if any lawsuits or liens have been filed against the candidate. Heck, even the Journal Star used to do criminal background checks on all candidates. Not sure how they missed Travis’s apparent conviction.

      • Darrell Klein
        Apr 26 2011

        And both Travis and Jonathon got more votes than you Deena. Maybe you need to stop “reporting” on local elections?

      • Apr 26 2011

        I have no idea what you’re trying to say, Darrell, but I sure am glad you can’t resist “reading” my blog anyway.

  14. ChilliMango
    Apr 27 2011

    I am a Republican who was going to vote for Cook in District 3. After receiving the smear-mail I’m on the fence!

    Cook’s & the Dems have no class.

    Nelson & the Reps have a weak campaign.

    What’s a voter to do?


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