Lawmakers took the first step Wednesday toward closing a loophole that allowed the conservative, Virginia-based group Americans for Prosperity to send out mailings and run radio ads against Nebraska political candidates without reporting what it spent.
Lawmakers gave 31-0 first-round approval to a bill (LB606) by Lincoln Sen. Bill Avery that would close the loophole.
His measure had its genesis in the waning days of the 2010 election, when Americans for Prosperity paid for mailings, newspaper inserts and radio ads that some say attacked several Democratic lawmakers running for re-election to the nonpartisan Nebraska Legislature.
One of the mailings, for example, said "(Lincoln Sen.) Danielle Conrad has raised taxes on every family and business in Nebraska. ... She even voted to override Gov. Heineman's veto of legislation that increased the gas tax (2008:LB959)."
But because they did not openly urge people to vote for or against a candidate, AFP maintains it does not have to disclose how much it spent on the mailings criticizing the record of Conrad and other lawmakers -- something required of candidates, political action committees and independent committees formed by interest groups.
AFP said it was simply stating facts.
Avery's bill would add language that would subject groups who use such tactics to the reporting requirements.
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