OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — With only days left before the final ballots are cast, Kara Eastman’s campaign has been reprimanded by the Secretary of State. But those working for the congressional candidate say these allegations are unfounded and are accusing the Secretary of State of abusing his office to help his fellow Republicans.
In a letter addressed to Kara Eastman’s campaign manager, Secretary of State, Robert Evnen accuses the campaign of violating the Nebraska Election Act.
Evnen names two individuals he says were working for Eastman’s campaign, and says they admitted to acting as voter agents and picking up more than the legal number of ballots.
Now according to Nebraska law:
- Voter agents can also only pick up two ballots for other people per election.
- Those working for a campaign cannot act as a voter agent for anyone who is not a relative
- Those working for a political party can act as a voter agent.
And this is where Eastman’s campaign says Evnan failed to do his research. They say the individuals named in the letter do not work for Eastman, but the Nebraska Democratic Party.
“If Secretary Evnan had ever contacted us before his office contacted the media, we could have told him that, but that was not his intention," said Eastman's campaign manager, Dave Pantos. "He’s simply acting on behalf of the Trump, Ricketts, Bacon agenda.”
Evnan says he’s trying to ensure a fair election for Nebraskans in matter of days.
“There was a complaint that I didn’t investigate or ask for an explanation," said Evnan said. "I found out about this on Friday morning, the election is on Tuesday. How much time am I supposed to give for an investigation?”
One of the individuals named in the letter was Kara Eastman’s field manager up until June, but her campaign says they are only with the Democratic Party at this time.
Evnan says these technicalities make little difference in his eyes.
“They’re trying to say well these are workers from the Democratic Party, not from the Eastman campaign," Evnan said. "That’s a distinction without a difference; that doesn’t make any difference. People who were being instructed here were working on behalf of the Eastman campaign, that's what they were doing.”
The investigation is now in the hands of the Attorney General who will decide if any rules were violated. In the meantime, Eastman’s campaign says they are not worried and are focused on Election Day.
“The message to the Republican Party is this, nice try, but we’re not distracted," Pantos said. "We’re going to keep working our plan.”
We reached out to the Nebraska Democratic Party regarding the allegations of their workers picking up more than the legal number of ballot, but they were unwilling to give an interview at this time.
Full statement from Nebraska Democratic Party:
The letter incorrectly inferred that a member of the Eastman campaign delivered completed ballots to be counted on behalf of voters. In fact, the ballots were delivered by NDP staff members, which is allowed under state law,
“The staff members in question are not employed by the Eastman campaign, they work for the Nebraska Democratic Party,” said NDP Executive Director Jim Rogers.
“These facts are easily discoverable, but the timing and media coordination of this release make it clear that the law was never the point -- this frivolous political hit job is a partisan waste of taxpayer dollars and everything wrong with the Trump and Bacon ‘gotcha’ style of politics. Voters are ready for a change and that change is Kara Eastman.”
Said Dave Pantos, campaign manager, Eastman for Congress:
“This is just another absurd attempt by Don Bacon and his Trump allies to manufacture nonsense and distract voters from his ‘hell yes’ vote to gut protections for pre-existing conditions. Nebraskans won’t fall for it.”
Full statement from Nebraska Republican Party:
“The Eastman campaign’s scheme to illegally act as ‘agents’ and request ballots in voters’ names raises serious election integrity questions. Kara Eastman must immediately order her campaign to cease all activity and cooperate with the investigation into the alleged criminal activity being conducted on her behalf.
“Eastman must answer whether she knew her staff was engaging in this illegal activity and whether she ordered them to do so. If the answer to either question is yes, she must immediately withdraw from the race and turn herself in to the proper authorities.
“The integrity and security of our elections is of paramount importance. If a candidate is willing to so blatantly violate the law in order to win an election, she is unfit to hold the office she seeks.”
Please read the letter from Secretary of State Bob Evnen to @karaforcongress detailing two violations of NE election law by her team. The evidence is on video.— Don Bacon (@DonJBacon) October 31, 2020
We must protect the integrity of our elections. Violations cannot be tolerated. https://t.co/P6bjUb6pbo
Don Bacon and the @NEGOP are working together to concoct a fake controversy about our campaign because that’s what they do. 👍— Kara Eastman (@karaforcongress) October 31, 2020
Their contrived and false allegation is a partisan hit that’s in line with Don Bacon’s and Donald Trump’s use of taxpayer funding to support their political causes. We did absolutely nothing wrong. It would be easy to look into the matter and see there’s no substance to it.— Kara Eastman (@karaforcongress) October 31, 2020