You knew it was going to continue…

The OWH got a few more quotes on the Jon Bruning story — but buried the interesting ones at the end.

State Treasurer Don Stenberg has jumped on the “oooh that nasty lakehouse” bandwagon, along with the Dems, saying that buying the house with the Nelnet guys was “reckless”.

Well, as we pointed out yesterday, that’s not really the crux, is it?

There are a couple of questions, that we noted yesterday that should be asked:

1) Should Bruning have gotten out of the Nelnet matter BEFORE the investigation / settlement if he was such good friends with the top guys; and

2) When did he become friends with them? In the story about Bruning’s investments it was noted that his partners were almost all fraternity brothers of Bruning. But it never mentioned how or when he became friends with the Nelnet guys. If your question is on any impropriety of the lakehouse, then when he became “friends” with them is sort of important, yeah?

Thankfully Robynn Tysver asked an uninvolved third party this time, instead of every Democratic official (like the last article).

So Prof. Patrick Borchers from Creighton Law noted:

As for whether Bruning should have recused himself from previous Nelnet dealings, Borchers said that depends on the closeness of Bruning’s friendships with the Nelnet executives.

All right! Is Borchers a Leavenworth Street reader?

Anywho, here’s the next one:

Bruning said he has long been friends with two top Nelnet executives — President Jeff Noordhoek and Chief Financial Officer Terry Heimes — but that they became closer after the settlement.

Um…what was that about “after”?


Don Walton at the LJS followed up on the story yesterday as well.

He notes that he will be talking to Bruning this week.


Both Bruning and Stenberg have received numerous endorsements already in the campaign.  Looks like State Senator Deb Fischer has gotten her first newspaper thumbs-up.

The York News Times (“All the Fits that Prints the News!”) said she has “true grit”.

Not sure if they’re talking about John Wayne true grit, or Jeff Bridges true grit. Either way, there’s an eye patch involved…


The Washington Post’s Robert Samuelson gives a thumbs up to the Canadian Tar Sands Oil, and the pipeline.

On point we hadn’t heard before:

If Obama rejects the pipeline, he would — perversely — increase greenhouse gas emissions. Canada has made clear that it will proceed with oil sands development regardless of the American decision. If the United States doesn’t want the oil, China and other Asian countries do. Pipelines would be built to the West Coast. Transporting the oil by tanker to Asia would almost certainly create more emissions than moving it by pipeline to closer U.S. markets.

There’s a twist for you…


And an ultro-gracias to you for clicking Leavenworth Street’s Amazon link when you’ve bought stuff on Amazon (that you were going to buy anyway).  Your enthusiasm has been great, and we very much appreciate your support of Leavenworth Street!


  1. Not paying attention yet says:

    Ugh. And while the political class works themselves into a tizzy, Joe Voter has no clue about any of this. The same 50 of us can comment 5 times each here and it still doesn’t mean anyone is paying attention 8 months before the primary and more than a year ahead of the general. If Bruning has the money next Spring to go on TV, and Fischer and Stenberg don’t, then Fischer and Stenberg won’t get noticed, it’s that simple.

  2. really says:

    Street Sweeper-your about as objective as a soccer mom when asked if her kid should be in the game. You constantly jump to Brunings rescue. This looks real real bad bottom line. Quite getting your taling points fromt he GOP and call it what it is…Friggin bad..we need a strong GOP canidate to get Nelson out

  3. Keebler Elvis says:

    Dirty Stenberg, Don will do anything to win, and he knows this is his last chance. His latest effort on Bruning didn’t deserve ink in the OWH.

    Expect more of this type of stuff from Stenberg.

  4. Sheesh Don says:

    Bruning is the guy trying to repal ben nelson’s obamacare. don stenbergs attacks and mudslinging are proof positive of why his campaign is floundering and having a hard time raising money. What’s he raised, $50? Yikes.

  5. true colors says:

    Don’s showing his true colors yet again…. going negative on Bruning.

    This is just a desperate attempt to save his cratering campaign.

  6. Poly Tics says:

    Looks like the former Dean of the CU Law School agreed with me…I knew he was one smart fella even though he spent time in New York. At least it wasn’t New York City..ewww.

    Anyhoo, if you were Stenberg, of course you jump on this. It’s politics. It isn’t a rose petal pulling contest, heck, it isn’t a YMCA Youth Soccer game. They actually keep score in politics, called “votes” and he/she who has the most actually wins. What Stenberg is doing is well within the bounds of the game and shows that he is the more ethical of the two Attorney Generals.

    As for Deb Fisher…is she playing smart by keeping quiet and let these two scrap or should she get involved and say something like “The politics of usual being played out by the Bruning and Stenberg camps is reason for a change. My campaign is not going to go into dirty politics, rather, we are focused on the issues. Getting the economy back on track and repealing Obamacare and the person who made it happen, Ben Nelson.”

  7. Old Joe says:

    Who can trust this guy? Bruning said he made much of his start-up money investing in the early 1990s stock market. OWH 8.30.11
    “I hate Wall Street.” Jon Bruning, KFAB radio interview 8.29.11

  8. NEpolitic says:

    This in-fighting between GOPer’s is really starting to make the NE-R Party look bad (yes, we’re a year out from the GE, but Bruning is the only shot R’s have). R’s and their money’d interests need to unite around one strong candidate in order to knock off Nelson. He’s swimming in cash compared to all of the R’s and none of this is helping. And it doesn’t help that congressional repub’s specifically have the lowest approval ratings in the lowest overall congressional approval ratings, ever. If Congressioanl dem’s are still polling better than congressional R’s this time next year, Ben won’t be going anywhere.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Candidates like Bruning are what is making the NE-R Party look bad!! Nebraskans are sick and tired of our “appointed royalty” in our GOP candidates. Bruning is selfish, only looks out for himself, and he is only interested in making money for himself and his campaign to further his own political career. The rest of us Republicans do not need to bow down at his feet because he is “our only hope.” Give me a break.

  10. NE Voter says:

    The OW-H’s coverage has been fair. Look, everybody knows that the paper is rabidly conservative. It’s also no secret that the Omaha Republican establishment has very little use for Jon (“Racoon Tycoon”) Bruning.

    Bruning’s personal and business ties with executives of companies and industries he’s supposed to be watch-dogging should be deeply trobling to all Nebraskans.

    The shame of it, in the end, is that between Stenberg and the Racoon Tycoon, Nebraska has not had an Attorney General that actually wanted to BE Attorney General for over 20 years.

    Bob Spire must be weeping right now.

    Wake up, people!

  11. Anonymous says:

    “Nebraska has not had an Attorney General that actually wanted to BE Attorney General for over 20 years.” ———–excellent point!!

  12. Reporting is only going Skin Deep says:

    The Problem I have with Don Walton article is that he says:
    “Once again, it was a Nebraska Democratic Party ad no doubt produced by Nelson’s re-election campaign.”
    I too believe that this is the case, but if Don belives that enough to write it..why not do some investigating since the ad clearly says..” Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee”
    Hold Ben Nelson and the Democratic Party accountable!!!! not just lip service Don.

  13. Long Way to the Top says:

    Rumor has it…Brent Smoyer is running for mayor of Omaha, John Murante is running for Governor, Mike Flood is rumored to be Mike Perrys pick for Vice President, Colby Coash is set to announce his run for Presidency in New Hampshire, Deb Fischer was appointed Secretary General for the United Nations….wait. Who’s Deb Fisher? Abbie Cornett is going to lead the next NASA space mission, Heath Mello is the next chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, Vice Chairman Brad Ashford.

  14. Dennis says:

    I don’t have any problem with Stenberg going after Bruning for exploiting his service in the Legislature and AG to enrich himself. It’s apparent that Stenberg is (justifiably) offended by Bruning’s exploitation of his public service for private financial gain.

  15. Josie says:

    Stenberg’s not the one who started this conversation, but, given his position is appropriate to bring up the bad judgment Bruning used. The issue here is Bruning’s character. He doesnt have any. The fact that Stenberg talked of how he handled himself in doing Bruning’s job is because he also held the job and he, more than anyone, knows what it takes to be Attorney General and do it well. Bruning should take lessons from Stenberg’s integrity. Stenberg’s got it. Bruning, obviously, doesnt.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, nice try by the Bruning camp to try and deflect the criticism to Stenberg on this one. Won’t work. Stenberg has nothing to apologize for regarding this — Bruning, on the other hand, has a lot of explaining to do!

  17. Kortezzi says:

    I thought the article on Bruning’s investment success was a hit piece. It shouldn’t have been printed without actual evidence of wrongdoing.
    But this story about his “shared” lake cabin w/ Nelnet execs does show bad judgment on Jon’s part. He should know better than to be partners with people whose business interests crossed his desk as AG.
    As a previous AG himself, how could Stenberg NOT point that out when asked?

  18. Anonymous says:

    NE Voter – “Racoon Tycoon” – very clever.

    Jon Bruning is not the “only shot” for the Republican party. Sheesh, this is Nebraska for crying out loud. Stenberg may not be the most exciting guy at the fraternity mixer, but voters know good and well that he would not have cast that 60th vote for Obamacare. And Deb Fischer, who I like for the nominee, has a proven record as an effective legislator and an inclination to address long term problems with courage rarely seen in today’s political climate.

    Jon Bruning, on the other hand, is a liability. He is a walking conflict of interest, and apparently doesn’t have the integrity to recognize it, and hasn’t even taken the time to get his story straight in his own big head. If he actually did get elected US Senator, I predict he would end up disgraced, like Duke Cunningham or Rod Blagojevich. No amount of cash-on-hand can save this guy from himself.

  19. Jerry says:

    I haven’t been impressed with Stenberg’s campaign so far, very weak. But now I’m very unimpressed. Such an opportunistic move. Can’t even come up with your own strategies, you have to latch onto Ben Nelson’s? (Which are nothing more than baseless conjecture).

    What would we do if you did get through the Primary? One of your sources of campaign strategy would be your own opponent.

  20. Lynn says:

    Josie your right. Stenberg costing the state $21 million by recusing himself because he was running against Nelson (the first time) was a brilliant idea. So was costing the state millions of dollars by hiding parts of his budget through DNR and DEQ. But wait, thats not all – he also out sourced most legal council. Bruning brought more in house which made the budget go up but saved the tax payer dollars.

  21. Interesting says:

    The reason deb ficsher is keeping out is because she can’t come up with an intellegent thought. Maybe Kay Orr will write her response

  22. Patriot says:

    Jon Bruning can & will defeat Ben Nelson. That is why they are launching these ridiculous attacks against him. Do your research on the Nelnet issue. Bruning didn’t want to settle because Nelnet did nothing wrong. It was an attempt by Gov. Cuomo to score some political points. Bruning was standing up for a Nebraska grown company.

    And why do we penalize someone for being successful and making a good living for themselves and their family? You people forget that he could make a lot more money if he went into the private sector, as most of our elected representatives could.

    To my fellow republicans, start looking at the big picture. We need to give Ben the boot. Jon Bruning is our candidate.

  23. NEW YORK CITY? says:

    So I see Deb Fischer is liked by that Liberal Rag from “New York City”
    (Audience) “New Your City?”
    (Lone cowboy) “Get a Rope”

    (read with a Nebraska rural sandhills accent)

  24. Anon says:

    Debs keeping out because she thinks she can pull a Fortenberry and slip by while the other two primary candidates destroy each other …. only that wont happen here.

  25. RE: NEW YORK CITY? says:

    Liberal Rag? Are you an idiot? It’s the York News-Times. As in York, Nebraska. It’s off of I-80, you know the interstate that runs through Nebraska? I know it’s hard to keep the geography straight, it is west of Lincoln just a little.

    The publisher met with Senator Fischer in a recent interview (which you would know if you could read) and wrote of her “…I said she is one tough cookie, but she says it best when asked about political attacks, “I’m no one’s punching bag. I’m a rancher from Cherry County and I’ll stand up against that. We need to stay focused on the issues. I won’t give you platitudes. Voters need to be listened to and we need to have a conversation about the issues facing this country.” Hey, it’s time Ben Nelson stops being part of the problem and it’s time to send a new person to Washington to represent Nebraskans. We are tired of Nelson’s claim he balanced eight Nebraska budgets in a row (He had to, it’s in our state constitution) while under his watch in Washington, the federal debt has grown from $5 trillion to nearly $15 trillion. I think Deb Fischer may be just what Washington needs; although I am not too sure they can handle her. Remember, she’s a rancher from the Sandhills of Nebraska, and she has true grit.”

  26. objective observer says:

    At least one newspaper in this state can get things right: People better start looking at Deb Fischer if they want to beat Ben Nelson in 2012. She has proven leadership, solid character and a record of winning close races.

    Jon Bruning is paper tiger. Hear him roar: “I’m all fired up.” Yeah, I learned that at a fraternity recruitment workshop which is where I’m sure he learned to parrot that obnoxious platitude.

    If Jon Bruning isn’t willing to explain why his cozy relationship with Nelnet executives magically materialized after he settled a multi-million lawsuit with the company, he’ll have a hard time explaining away the other skeletons lurking in the background.

    To name a few: (a) Why he took on millions in debt to make risky investments that have made him a millionaire all while serving as a career politician, (b) Why he continues to take expensive gifts and trips from lobbyists, (c) Why Nebraska should trust him when he’s never had to run against a formidable opponent even for state legislature, (d) Why he voted to raise taxes in the state legislature, (e) Why the budget for the AG’s office has EXPLODED over the last 8 years, (f) Why he has spent the last 5 years of his life running for Senate and raising money on the taxpayer’s time while serving as attorney general–we should get 40 hours a week at least, right? (g) And lots of other personal baggage that’s too radioactive to type here.

    I hope you picked good seats to watch the fun unfold folks, because this primary is about to get red hot.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Ben Nelson loses to just about anybody, even Pat Flynn, because he is a Loser! He embarrassed Nebraska with the Kick-back and his sticking with Obama care. This is why there are so many in the race as it is. So whomever wins the nod from the Republican Primary becomes the Senator for the State of Nebraska.

    In other news, Ben Nelson is still a moron for his “Brilliant” political maneuver on Health Care Reform…..

  28. Ted says:

    Sweeper, no one else has talked about that last line in the today’s Bruning story. What does he mean that he became close with the Nelnet executives “after the settlement”? That is the most damning part of the whole story. Before, I was willing to brush it off as him being friends with some frat brothers. But now I find out that he wasn’t even good friends with these Nelnet people until AFTER he bought a house with them? What the hell?
    Now I want to know more!

  29. Ivy Marie Harper says:

    The real story behind Nelnet in Nebraska goes beyond the company’s lavish contributions to politicians such as A.G. Bruning and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In some circles in Washington, D.C., Senator Ben Nelson’s nickname is Senator Ben Nelnet.

    What Nebraska’s media must examine is the nexus between Nelnet, NU, the University of Nebraska Foundation, Union Bank, the Barkley Trust, and the “conversion” of Nelnet’s “non-profit” precursor, Unipac, to Nelnet and the New York Stock Exchange. (But be careful, if you get too close to the Heart of the Matter, you just might be bogusly “banned.”)

    @ Patriot: Nelnet made gazillions by using the U.S. Department of Education as a Federal Subsidy Spigot. The definition of FEDERAL SUBSIDIES is: Taxpayer Dollars.

    Below is a 2004 wire report on Nelnet and what has become known in the industry as the 9.5 Scandal (NU “partnered” with Nelnet during the years 2004-2007):

    “The biggest beneficiary of the 9.5 percent loan program is Nelnet, according to the Institute for College Access and Success report.

    Today’s Nelnet was created by the merger of UNIPAC Service Corp., which serviced loans for Union Bank & Trust of Lincoln, and Nelnet, an education finance company formed in 1996. The company went public late last year.

    Nelnet bought the nonprofit Nebraska Higher Education Loan Program in 1998 and started recycling 9.5 percent loans in earnest last year, after asking the Department of Education to confirm that it was legal to recycle the loans, according to exhibits filed with the report.

    The government ignored the letter for more than a year, during which time Nelnet billed for — and was paid — millions in subsidies, the report says. The company’s volume of 9.5 percent loans rocketed 818 percent during that period…”

    To be continued.

  30. The Pip says:

    As ALL of these politicians say,” First the self justify, next, the self gratify!” If they can justify it to themselves, then they can self gratify, and take what they want. And there is nothing wrong with it. They all make me sick!!!

  31. Keebler Elvis says:

    Deb Fischer has to raise 550k this quarter to be compete in this race. This is the easy one…. The come out quarter, where you have all your friends and family.

    Otherwise she’s out.

  32. Banker says:

    Check the deposits in Bruning’s banks. They skyrocket after he buys them and the % of large, non insured accounts significantly increase. Who is depositing all this money in Bruning’s banks?

  33. Keebler is right says:

    Deb has a big hill to climb. Zero name recognition. She is going to have to raise Pete Ricketts like money.

  34. Out West says:

    It’s looking more and more like the little lady from the sand hills might sneak off with the prize while the boys from the east shoot each other up. If Bruning keeps screwing up he’ll find that the sane people who said they’d back him will be dumping him real fast. Stenberg is a proven loser. If the powers in the party can’t get behind Fischer, then it looks like we’re going to see a draft Heineman committee forming in the near future. Nebraska voters are not going to support a slick lawyer who seems to have been involved in a bunch of questionable business deals. It makes no difference if the deals were “legal.” They will all become a source for mud slinging, and most of it will stick.

    Bruning’s goose is just about cooked. All of you fools who think he’ll come out on top in a mud slinging fight with Nelson are in for a shock. Nelson’s win over Ricketts will look like a joy ride compared to what he’ll do to Bruning. Anyone who seriously wants rid of Nelson better either get behind Fischer, or find a way to get the Governor off the fence.

  35. Shoe Salesman says:

    Wow. from a blog obsessed with conspiracy theories comes the mother of all conspiracy theories: the Omaha World Herald is colluding with Ben Nelson! What a ridiculous premise. Anyone who knows anything about Nelson, NE politics or the OWH would surely know that a consipracy like that is impossible.

    Loving the conservative meme here that “NelNet did nothing wrong.” When the feds stripped NelNet of their taxpayer funded student looting scheme, many here went Ben-nutty on Nelson for not stopping the fleecing of a company that fleeced America. Ben Nelson tried to save NelNet – bruning used it to profit – just like Nelnet uses students to profit. But Nelson gets razzed and Bruing gets props.

    Besides, anyone know anyone who buys a house with strangers? Bruinng is a corrupt doofus.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Going to be a change in the Legislature very soon, and looks like the Governor will be appointing someone in the near future.

  37. TexasAnnie says:

    You poor Nebraskans! Can’t find a Nebraskan with integrity to lead y’all? Yeah, I know. That’s what I experienced when I lived there too! Your defense of Bruning is weak at best and YES, Street Sweeper, you do come across as Bruning’s cheerleader. But a few correspondents here wrote something worthwhile:

    Objective Observer at 3:25 pm above, IS OBJECTIVE. His queries (a-g) should be what this current broohaha focuses on. And I’m waiting with baited breath for Ivy Marie Harper at 3:48 to continue providing the REAL details of the Nelnet debacle. That’s the way I remember it going down from news reports at the time. And Shoe Salesman is quite right that Nelson was targeted for NOT blasting Nelnet in the Congress.

    Remember folks, Nelnet cost YOU your tax dollars. It’s what YOU spent your tax dollars on. And by extension of Bruning’s defense of Nelnet, it’s what Bruning believes YOU should be spending your tax dollars on. Compare that position with Bruning’s recent raccoon analogy. I already knew (via personal correspondence w/Bruning while he “served” in the legislature) that Bruning is a greedy opportunist who cares NOT for social equity and justice. He proved it when it voted FOR university system funding and simultaneously AGAINST developmental disability funding while Nebraska ranked in the top ten states for public higher education spending, and bottom ten states supporting habilitation for the disabled. His choice then was a “Nebraska value,” true, but, I’ve never forgotten his stance and regard it as his REAL character. Sooo, am I inclined to believe that Bruning is somehow guilty of wrongdoing in this current broohaha? You betcha’.

  38. Anonymous says:

    The behavior of Nebraska’s part-time Attorney General, Jon Bruning, in this summer home matter, and his unbelievably better than Berkshire profits made by leveraging the clout of the offices he has held, is exactly the kind of thing guaranteed to turn Nebraskans against him. The residents of this state are renowned for their work ethic and moral fiber. They don’t like cheaters, and they expect their hired hands to show up on time and put in a full day’s work. Mr. Bruning has proven himself unworthy of their trust.
    That doesn’t mean that it is going to be a walk in the park for Sen. Nelson. He too has betrayed the trust that Nebraskans had for him in the past. He has proven himself unworthy. I believe the real contest for this Senate seat will be between the dull Mr. Stenberg, and the unknown Mrs. Fischer.
    Given the current political climate of distrust of most entrenched politicians, I’m placing my two bucks on a perfecta with Mrs. Fischer to win and Mr. Stenberg to place. The Racoon Tycoon has already stumbled out of the gate and come up lame.

  39. Never left the Neb says:

    I like Romney. Perry scares me a bit. The new guy from New Mexico seems like to much of a smart ass and slightly crazy too. Bachman and Paul are equally crazy, but at least Paul knows when to shut his mouth. Love McCotter, but not enough of a following.

    Romney-Ryan, I’d move to Chicago to vote twice for that ticket.

  40. Still Skeptical says:

    So Bruning acknowledges he was friends with these Nelnet officials while he was working on their issue as AG? Why didn’t he let someone else make the call, then? And then all of a sudden, after things went the Nelnet folks’ way in the AG office, Bruning is “closer” friends with them? Well, no wonder they’re friends, after that! I’m with the shoe salesman: who buys a vacation house with people who just recently became chummy? I’m sorry, this doesn’t look or smell good. Can’t we get a better candidate than this?

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