Head of Dems calls on Republican auditor candidate to withdraw

By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog

LINCOLN, Neb. – The head of the state’s Democratic Party is calling on the Republican auditor candidate to drop out of the race because his company has a million dollars worth of contracts with the state.

Sen. Charlie Janssen

Democratic Party Chairman Vince Powers said Sen. Charlie Janssen, R-Fremont, is the poster boy for what happens after 16 years of one-party rule in Nebraska. He accused Janssen of being part of a “good ol’ boy network” and said the Democratic candidate, Amanda McGill, would end that, if elected.

Janssen is part owner of RTG Medical, which contracts with the state to supply temporary workers at state medical facilities. His state contracts were first made public in July, and at the time he said he didn’t know much about the contracts and hadn’t filed a conflict of interest statement, as is required if his vote could have a financial impact him or a family member.

Powers asked how Janssen can audit contracts if he doesn’t even know much about his own. He said Janssen has been vague about what he would do about the contracts if elected and said he doesn’t meet ethical standards.

Janssen’s campaign manager, Rod Edwards, said Janssen’s company still has state contracts, but he’s repeatedly said if elected he would “remove himself from any conflict of interest.”

State Auditor Mike Foley, who is not running for re-election but instead for lieutenant governor, said in July the state auditor shouldn’t have contracts with the state.

Asked why he thinks Janssen is unethical, Powers said in 2007 Janssen wanted to run against Congressman Jeff Fortenberry as a Democrat, and he met with Powers and other Democratic activists. Powers said he “talked trash” about Fortenberry and President George W. Bush.

A few months later, Janssen ran as a Republican for the Legislature instead and went from being a left-wing liberal to a stalwart conservative, Powers said.

Sen. Amanda McGill

“It was the first time I saw naked opportunism,” Powers said. “Charlie Janssen just looks out for Charlie Janssen.”

Edwards said in response, “That’s a bunch of bull.” Powers tried to recruit Janssen to run against Fortenberry because Janssen’s uncle was a Democrat, Edwards said.

“They are desperate because they know that Amanda’s not qualified to be auditor,” Edwards said. “How can Nebraskans trust her to audit complex budgets across the state when she had tens of thousands of dollars embezzled right under her nose?”

McGill was program director when her former boss embezzled from the YWCA by stamping McGill’s name on checks without her permission. While announcing her candidacy, McGill mentioned the incident, saying she knows what it’s like to be the victim of embezzlement and learned the “importance of asking questions when things don’t seem quite right.”

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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