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Nebraska watchdog group files complaint against former lawmaker
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Nebraska watchdog group files complaint against former lawmaker

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Last day of Nebraska Legislature

Sen. Jim Smith listens to final readings of bills on the last day of the legislative session in 2018. 

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts delivers his 2021 State of the State address to the Legislature.

A government watchdog group has accused the head of Blueprint Nebraska, a panel of state business leaders promoting economic growth, of failing to register as a lobbyist.

Common Cause Nebraska filed its complaint with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission on Wednesday. The complaint names Jim Smith, a former state senator from Papillion who is now president of Blueprint Nebraska.

The complaint cites an email that Smith sent to Gov. Pete Ricketts' chief of staff Nov. 30. The email describes meetings he held with Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn, the Legislature's Revenue Committee chairwoman, about her plans for tax legislation.

Ambitious economic growth plan proposed for Nebraska

Jack Gould, the issues chair for Common Cause, argued that meeting with lawmakers about legislation would constitute lobbying. 

Smith responded that the complaint was "without merit" and that neither he nor Blueprint Nebraska has taken a position on pending tax bills. But he said he would cooperate with the commission's investigation.

The email was one of a series between Ricketts' office and Smith about Blueprint Nebraska's work. The emails were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Documented, another public watchdog organization. Ricketts was a co-founder of Blueprint Nebraska.

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