Monday, April 14, 2008

Neb GOP defends itself

A few weeks ago the Nebraska legislature debated issues regarding illegal immigrant rights. One very topical subject was prohibiting illegal immigrants from receiving in-state tuition at Nebraska colleges and universities. Remember that issue? Bet Tom Osborne does...

So when State Sen. Steve Lathrop voted against that prohibition, the Nebraska Republican Party called him on it. They sent out flyers and made phone calls to his constituents pointing out that Lathrop's vote was directly contrary to the advertising he sent out during his election campaign -- which he won by a handful of votes. (See Lathrop's flyer, to the right).

Not long after the Omaha World Herald wrote a scathing editorial against the NE GOP for this. They yelped about politics -- politics!-- entering that bastion of no-party-ness, the Unicameral. The OWH said:
The political parties should take heed: Demagoguing the immigra­tion issue for political gain not only dumbs down the policy debate. It al­so leaves candidates vulnerable if they are elected and need to make responsible choices rather than politically expedient ones.
So, just in case you weren't sure, the OWH is saying, "Say whatever you want to get yourself elected. After that, no one should hold you accountable for your promises -- as long as you vote the way we think." (And there's that word, "responsible" again...)

There's simply no other way to read it.

So in the vein of fairness, since many of you can't read the OWH's op-eds as they're not online, here is the Nebraska Republican Party's Chairman, Mark Quandahl, with his response in yesterday's paper (sent to us by the party):


The writer, of Omaha, is chairman of the Nebraska Republican Party. He was a state senator from 1999 to 2005.

Even though Nebraskans hold the storied “nonpartisan” aspect of our state Legislature in great esteem, the political parties in Nebraska still have responsible roles to play in our state’s gover­nance. Political parties help elect pub­lic officials and, where we think appropriate, educate voters on those officials’ records. It is truly troubling that some apparently now think that “nonpartisan” means nonaccountable” for their words, actions and votes.

It is grossly unfair to decry the Nebraska Republican Party’s re­cent distribution of a flier and phone calls over immigration re­lated legislation as an attack, as an April 4 editorial did. It was an educational effort to inform the voters of a legislator’s actions that would seem to run contrary to his campaign promises.

It should be noted that nothing in the flier distributed to the leg­islative district or the phone calls was disrespectful, untrue or in­correct. On the contrary, not one person can point to anything in the materials that was false. Then why the outcry? Could it be that our politicians in the Leg­islature took umbrage at some­one who would dare hold one of their own accountable for state­ments made on the campaign trail? Does the fact that the “someone” was a political party and the politician was in our
non­partisan, unicameral Legislature have any relevance?

Does membership in the Legis­lature suddenly exempt one from accountability to the voters of Nebraska and release an elected official from the solemn prom­ises made while running for of­fice and that voters relied on when they cast their votes? One of the great aspects of the First Amendment is that it does not make the traditional press the sole means of informing and educating the citizens. As a mat­ter of fact, when the press fails to report how individual senators voted on legislation or compare our elected officials’ actions with their campaign claims, another level of accountability is lost.

We are often told that in Ne­braska, because of our “unique” one-house, nonpartisan Legisla­ture, “the people are the second house.” How can our people, the voters of Nebraska, effectively act as a backstop or a second house if they are not adequately informed as to the votes and ac­tions of our state senators?

If, as The World-Herald edi­torial would suggest, political parties should be discouraged from commenting on a legisla­tor’s actions (or lack thereof), if educating constituents of a bro­ken campaign promise is auto­matically derided as “partisan poison” without regard to the truth of the matter asserted, the ability of the people to act as the second house is nothing more than a quaint phrase utterly de­void of impact.

If anything, the lawmakers’ recent “defense” of their non­partisan culture proves that the “practical and noble” ideal of the second house is impotent. If our political system has de­volved to the point where knowl­edgeable citizens cannot distin­guish between factual represen­tations of issues and what could be termed as real “negative cam­paigning,” then our republic may well be at greater risk than we think. If exposing the truth about how our elected officials actu­ally represent us once we send them to Washington, Lincoln or even the county seat or City Hall is somehow dirty or wrong, what kind of “1984” Orwellian society have we become?

Both political parties, as well as every independent interest group and citizen, have a respon­sibility to keep elected officials honest. Trust and civility are two-way streets. We should expect — and demand — that our elected rep­resentatives in the Legislature would respect the voters of the State of Nebraska enough to be truthful and honest in their cam­paigns and conduct in public of­fice. To expect anything less is to admit that our elected officials have no duty or responsibility in that regard.


mike in Omaha said...

Preach on Brother Quandahl!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I fully support the State Party. The last time I checked, their mission was partisan in nature.

Anonymous said...

It all comes down to accountability, not partisianship. The GOP was right in what they did.

Anonymous said...

He did NOT vote against it. As a former state Senator, Quahdal ought to know how to check a voting record on a public hearing. Seriously. Get the facts straight.

red headed prophet said...

mike in omaha, let me reiterate...there is not a greater fool than an UNRICH REPUBLICAN.

curbfeeler said...

We may agree or disagree with what comes out of the two party headquarters. But that has nothing to do with the political arrogance and bias of the World Herald and the Unicameral. The parties are doing thier job while the paper and state senators play tyrant.

The Unicameral has no second house check or partisan balance. The World Herald says that check and balance is the Nebraska People. The problem with that is, the World Herald thinks it is the voice and mind of the Nebraska People.

One monopolized news. The other monopolizes law making.

Nebraska is a State run by tyrants. They mean well but the local system prevents them from holding to the ethical earth. Nebraskans are the best people in America but they live under a crippled system of governance and monopoly news.

Anonymous said...

This editorial was perfectly on the pun intended Sen. Quandahl.

Get YOUR facts, Anony #3. Any openminded person who reads the transcript from the committee hearing for the bill can see Lathrop's questions were highly dubious about the legislation.

The fact remains, Lathrop provided no leadership in either stopping the committee from killing the bill OR offering his own motion to advance the bill, in an amended or otherwise. The truth hurts and Lathrop knows it.


Mike in Omaha said...

Lathrop deserves his medicine...bottom line

Anonymous said...

"Lathrop deserves his medicine... bottom line"

Sounds like a suppository.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious!!!!! Or a colon

Anonymous said...

It is too bad the Governor and his administration don't care to enforce the current federal law. If they did, there would be no benefits for illegals. They also are opposing employer sanctions behind the scene. Who is really pro-illegal immigration?

Anonymous said...

This is the same Steve Lathrop the Chip Maxwell and other pro-lifers want to "nominate for the Nobel Peace Prize" after he brought the pro-life and pro-research communities together.

Yeah, he is a bastard.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jean Stother and campaign team - you spent more money and in district that is very Republican and lost.

Get over it!

Montana Dan said...

anonymous #9,

You lost me on that one. Any further comment?

Anonymous said...


Thanks for sharing Mark Quandahl's excellent editorial along with Lathrop's "immigration" mailer from the 2006 campaign. Lathrop's actions are despicable and I appreciated you shining more light on the issue. Reading the responses from his apologists and sycophants has been entertaining.

The Howells

Anonymous said...

Apologists and sycophants vs cronies and henchmen. News at 10.

Jean said...

Anonymous #9:

You must be a misogynist.

Gal Pal said...

"Preach on Brother Quandahl!!!!!"...good example of an apologist and sycophant at work.

Anonymous said...

I don't care who the candidate/elected officials are. If they do something in office that directly contradicts what they said on the campaign trial, they need to be called out on it. I don't care who calls them out. If the political parties are in the best position to do be it.

If Lathrop were honest about how he was going to deal with immigration, he would have lost...badly. Period.

Shaeffer said...

Sweeper: Do you have the GOP piece? I would be interested to see what it looks like.

Mike in Omaha said...

To Gal Pal: apologist and Actually I prefer one who supports those that do the right thing in dealing with a blatant hypocrit like Steve Lathrop. I think I remember he told people he was pro-death penalty too!!!

Street Sweeper said...

We'll be updateing soon folks. Verrrrry busy in the real world...

Someone above asked for the NEGOP's piece. Here is the text of the mailer. Don't know what it looked like:

Steve Lathrop is wrong on illegal immigration.

Steve Lathrop told us that he would be tough on illegal immigration.

Steve Lathrop even made illegal immigration a priority of his campaign in 2006.

But once elected Lathrop quickly changed his tune

Recently Senator Lathrop failed to support a measure that would have banned taxpayer benefits to illegal immigrants.

Apparently Senator Lathrop has no problem with illegal immigrants taking advantage of the system while Nebraska taxpayers foot the bill.

Paid for by the Nebraska Republican Party.

Anonymous said...

mike in omaha: you seem to have a good handle on political issues. have you thought of going into politics?

Jean said...

Anonymous, you have got to be kidding!

Kyle Michaelis said...


I can't believe how far off-base you are taking offense at the World-Herald's editorial - at least, the portion you quoted above. It's pretty clear the World-Herald is warning candidates not to exploit the immigration issue because they should expect to be held accountable.

Even if Lathrop was being responsible from his position on the Judiciary Committee, an objective reading of this editorial shows the World-Herald pretty much excusing the Republican Party's attack.

"No other way to read it"? Ha! This really is the funniest blog in Nebraska.

jk said...

Senators/trial lawyers Tom White and Steve Lathrop are doing more than losing valuable billing hours in the Legislature; they are providing wonderful fundraising fodder for the State GOP.

Rock on, Mark.