Cornhusker Kickback 2.0

You will remember that back in December when Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson started running his ads on his health care re-form bill vote, we asked, “Who is paying for these spots?”

The crawl at the bottom of the screen said, “Paid for by the Nebraska Democratic Party“.

We wondered where the state party was coming up with the scratch for that tab — especially when there are House and Governor races this year, and Nelson isn’t even up for another two years.

Well, we have our answer.

The recent FEC reports show that the Democratic National Committee funneled half and million dollars into the state party on December 28, 2009 to fund the TV spots for The Benator.

And the political intertubes are all a flutter about it.

Here’s the deal:

This is what political parties are supposed to do, to a certain extent, right? Defend their own when they need to get out their message?

Well OK, except that…

Nelson already took one promise back in December from Harry Reid — and it has been almost universally harangued for being a quid pro quo for his vote. Now we discover that there was an additional $500K that went exclusively to EBN?

Guess who else is pissed now? His Dem brethren.

The Massachusetts Senate race was white-hot at that point. You think Martha Coakley and the Dems wouldn’t have liked another $500,000 to spend defending “Teddy Kennedy’s seat”?

The Democrats clearly now blame Nelson for killing health care re-form. With the F-you of the Cornhusker Kickback, they see that as the tipping point of national public outrage against the bill and THE REASON for the the loss in Massachusetts.

And now they find out that Nelson — who the libs hate anyway — took money away from other more important races when he’s not even up this year? They’re pissed kids. As one Dem staffer was heard saying, “The Cornhusker Kickback kicked our butts”. And other Dem staffers think Nelson intentionally sabotaged the bill.

Couple this new development with his “I’m for reconciliation”, “I’m against reconciliation”, “I’m happy with the abortion language”, “I would have renewed my filibuster in conference committee”, and you can get an idea how tired people from BOTH parties have become.

A few notes from some local politicos who we asked to weigh in:

“Was this deal done during his hugging session with Senator Boxer?”

Coulda been then. Or, you’ll remember that back in the first week of November, Senator Chuck Schumer, of Brooklyn, who had never been hunting in his life, spent the weekend at Nelson’s turkey-hunting retreat. Was the deal made there?

Or was it simply when Nelson gave a “list of must-haves” to Schumer and Reid in the health care bargaining session later in December? As another local politico puts it, “One thing you hear over and over about Sen. Nelson is that he’ll support your issue if you can supply him ample political coverage.”

As another put it, “What’s surprising is not that he took the money, but the relatively small price which got him to crawl into bed. Chuck Schumer sneezes $500k…even Landrieu was a pricier date!”

Here’s a final thought from another: Does Nelson think the ads are helping? “Every time someone sees that ad, it makes them madder and madder that Ben did not vote the way his constituents wanted him too. Is this constant reminder just salt in the wound?”


While we’re on it, we’ve finally come across an online version of Nelson’s latest ad touting his vote — the Warren Buffet spot.

Take a look.

Here’s the chuckle-worthy thing about this spot:

Amongst the myriad of hops and flips Nelson has taken, one thing is that he says the President should NOT have gone for Health Care re-form at this time. He should have focused on the economy. Waited.

So Nelson disagrees with Buffett!

Buffett says he would have “made the same vote”? Well, apparently Ben Nelson WOULDN’T have!

He said yesterday that the bill should be scrapped and should be done using an “incremental approach” instead.

(And for now we’ll leave aside Buffett’s whole very Pro-Choice stances.)

So “brave”? Well, if taking the Cornhusker Kickbacks Part I and II for one’s vote, then denying you were ever really going to vote that way makes one “brave”, well, there’s a definition we never found in Webster’s…


Thanks to all the Nebraska politicos who contributed their thoughts on this to Leavenworth Street!


  1. Shoe Salesman says:

    Sweeper, – did you make up those "politoco" comments – seems to me that you have made each and every one of those comments in previous posts.

    So what's wrong with the DNC defending a Democrat? You and the NEGOP spend a lot of energy trying to brand Nelson as a Dem – see Ricketts' lame ass Kennedy/Clinton ads in 2006 and then you take umbrage when he shows he is a Democrat?

    As for a cheap date – you cant have it both ways – you criticize Nelson for taking "hundreds of millions for his vote" as a sellout then complain that $500K isn't enough? get a grip.

    Finally, its easy for you and your fantasy politics politicos to be critical of a very complex process and negotiation with your soundbites. You take Nelson's words out of their context and present them as contradictions. good for you. But it's dishonest at best. Which is why you remain anonymous I guess, so you don't leverage your personal credibility.

    That being said – the fact is that Gov. Dave ASKED Nelson to fix his budget problem on Medicaid. Nelson did it. Addressed his concerns directly, immediately, and completely. Then Dave figured out that wasn't good for him so he went political. Why don't you look at the ways gov Dave has left to fix his impending Medicaid shortfall. What will he do? raise taxes locally? cut other programs? Nelson got him out of a pickle and now he's back in it – his budget problem is still HIS budget problem. But hey, he scored the political points he needed right?

  2. Street Sweeper says:


    Keep selling it baby. Keep selling it. Everyone totally believes that Nelson and Reid were doing a favor for Heineman. Yup. That spin is in the bag.

    Believe whatever you want about us quoting the locals, if that helps you to sleep better. It was a busy morning, so we asked what others thought about it. I thought it gave the post a little shake-up, but apparently there's no pleasing every lib…

    Of course, we'd ask the kids at the NNN, but they don't like the word "Politico" (slap!).

    And, as always, thanks for reading!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Give Sweeper some slack. I can tell you first hand out here in the Beltway Ben Nelson is despised by both parties. Many dem strategists are blaming Nelson for Scott Brown.

  4. One Out In The Third says:

    Nebraska…the only place where "astroturf" flourishes thanks to the DNC and Ben Nelson. The media folks in Nebraska must be laughing all the way to the bank. Probably the only industry holding up our economy. Thanks Benito!

  5. Anonymous says:

    There is speculation that the money laundering in support of the Benator goes a little deeper. Many suspect that it came out of his own campaign war chest and was funneled to the NDP through the DNC. Kind of like that statue they put up in McCook that he paid for from behind the scenes so it would look like a tribute instead of an ego trip.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Lay off Jordan McGrain. Give the guy a chance. It is the toughest job in state politics, can you at the very least give the guy the benefit of the doubt?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Pretty sure the guy was given a chance. Ask Jim Vokal how that turned out for him.

    If he has this much in the way of problems now I can't imagine where we will be in 6 months

  8. Anonymous says:

    The Dems may be in better shape than they ever thought. It looks like McGrain has never found a fight he couldn't lose.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hey McGrain haters,

    How many of you have worked a campaign or even have a job in politics?


    That's what I thought.

  10. Pol Observer says:

    I agree that we need to give Jordan some slack. If he has the job he needs our support. His success will be based upon elections won and dollars raised. If he fails, fire him. Otherwise fellow GOP'rs don't be haters.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hey you are right. Give McGrainy a chance to keep losing those races with his punk like attitude that insults the uninsultable. Yeh, lay off him–he has every right to prove he's a punk and help the GOP defeat themselves with his….what's the word I'm looking for….leadership? Just remember there's not a race that isn't worth losing by implosion.

  12. Pol Observer says:

    Well Anonymous, why don't you just hand all the races over to the Dems in 2010 then. If you support the governor, then you have to support this decision. I hope Jordan does a great job. I think he knows what's at stake. Let's give him a chance.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Remember Jordan defeated Anne Boyle in a heavily Democratic district. He has beat Democrats. He has run a political campaign. He has raised money.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Not just Boyle. Ask Rex Moats what he thinks of Jordan McGrain. Or Matt Connealy. Or Steve Lathrop, Jim Esch, Richard Register, and Gail Kopplin.

    Any didn't every Republican lose to Matt Samp? Just asking…

  15. McGrain Opponent says:

    McGrain has won more than he has lost. He hasn't been afraid to take on big challenges. He isn't afraid to get in the game and mix it up. He'll do what it takes.

    I'll even go this far. The races he lost were closer than they should have been. They were monumental challenges and he isn't responsible for the losses.

    He'll do just fine.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Not to forget that fine race for city council seat with Blumenthal and Stothert. Who won that one?
    And, the third place finish in the mayoral race? Went to whom? He'll do fine. Yes indeed. Just swell.

  17. Dayton Headlee says:

    I commend Chairman Fahleson for picking a candidate with experience in the field- someone who has actually worked on campaigns. While Northwall was my first choice, I am very confident that Jordan can secure GOP victories in '10 and set the party in excellent position fo '12.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Thanks GOP. You made my decision really easy. With McGrain and his dirty hack campaigning, I for one have lost all confidence in the GOP in this state. I will tear up my R card and become one of the many disillusioned "I"'s.

    PS-To Anon @1:11pm, I have worked on and ran campaigns. There is a right and wrong way. His is clearly wrong.

  19. Paul M. says:

    Dear McGrain Opponent: Student council elections and Mick Mines' unopposed races to do not count.

    Besides, McGrain nearly F'ed those up as well.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Reid's original bill removed the antitrust exemption from the health insurance industry. Nelson got Reid to take this provision out, thereby preserving the ability of his buddies in the insurance industry to conspire against hospitals and physicians. Once this agreement between Reid and Nelson was struck, Nelson's vote was in the bag. All he needed was political cover. Unfortunately for him, the cover blew up in his face.

  21. Anonymous says:

    McGrain is a super duper man. Run Jim Run. one man machine. the democrats and liberals will be crying down at Barrets and the Run bar. wooo, wooo, wooooo

  22. NE Voter says:

    Sad to say, but, Leavenworth Street has become a bore.

    As for the Ann Coulter banner ads: Dude looks like a lady. The Adam's apple gives it away every time.

    Rock on.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Ditt to 8:53PM February 2nd. His is the wrong and nasty way that more and more of would be voters reject by voting for the opponent or stay home disillusioned at the same old firebrand politics as usual. I would have sooner seen someone with the experience of knowing how to build and develop rather than the scorched earth tactics familiar to McGrain's efforts that polarize into a decreasing minority.

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