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Nebraska treasurer’s ad spending has lawmaker mulling change

Posted at 4:04 PM, Dec 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-25 17:04:47-05

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP)  — A Democratic lawmaker says he may push to strengthen a Nebraska law regulating state officials’ advertising after the Republican state treasurer spent more than $593,000 over the past six months on ads prominently featuring himself.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that State Treasurer John Murante selected his former employer, Victory Enterprises of Davenport, Iowa, to do the ads without taking bids. Murante also set up an Omaha “outreach” office costing nearly $60,000 a year in rent.

Democratic State Sen. Matt Hansen of Lincoln said he is looking at expanding a lawprohibiting state officers like the treasurer from running ads with their names during an election year. Hansen said he is considering a bill to expand the prohibition to all years.

“If it’s good policy in election years, that would make it good policy in non-election years, too,” Hansen said.

Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts also said during his latest monthly radio call-in show that Murante should have been more mindful of public perception.

“Taxpayer money should be handled with the utmost care,” Ricketts said.

Murante defended his spending as fulfilling a campaign promise to increase awareness about the office. He said he selected Victory Enterprises because he thought the company’s fees were reasonable and couldn’t be beat.