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July 1, 2015

"Anti-Death Penalty Activists Are Winning The Fundraising Battle In Nebraska"

The title of this post is the headline of this intriguing new BuzzFeed piece providing a "follow-the-money" update on who is really concerned about reversing or preserving the repeal of the death penalty in Nebraska.  Here are excerpts: 

After the Nebraska legislature successfully abolished the death penalty in the state, an expensive battle has begun to bring it back.  But so far, the side against the death penalty is winning the fundraising battle.  The money is all about the potential for a statewide vote on the death penalty.

In May, the state’s conservative legislature narrowly overruled Republican Gov. Pete Rickett’s veto of the measure that abolished the death penalty. Ricketts vowed there would be a referendum to give voters the option to bring it back.  Nebraskans for the Death Penalty will need to collect 57,000 signatures by August to get the vote on the ballot.  If they can manage to collect 114,000 signatures, the death penalty will remain on the books until voters weigh in.

The group estimates that it would need to spend about $900,000 to do so....  [So far] Nebraskans for the Death Penalty raised $259,744 — and more than 75% of that came from the governor’s family. Ricketts and his father, the founder of TD Ameritrade, have given $200,000 to the group.  Another $10,000 was given to the pro-death penalty organization by an Omaha police union.

Nebraskans for the Death Penalty has spent almost all of the money it has currently raised in starting the signature collecting process.  The group has $26,000 in cash remaining, but has $25,000 in unpaid legal and consulting bills.

On the other side, Nebraskans for Public Safety (an anti-death penalty group) has not yet filed its full campaign finance report as of Tuesday evening.  But the group has disclosed receiving a $400,000 contribution from a progressive organization called Proteus Action League.  The group is a 501c(4), meaning it does not disclose its donors. This isn’t the first time Proteus Action League has spent money against the death penalty — the group spent more than $3.4 million on anti-death penalty efforts in 2012, according to an IRS filing.

The anti-death penalty group Nebraskans for Public Safety, which is affiliated with Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, has spent some of the money on television ads urging voters to not sign the petition.

Regardless of the outcome, Ricketts believes he will still be able to carry out the executions of the 10 men on death row.  In pursuit of that, his Department of Correctional Services has spent more than $50,000 on execution drugs from a seller based in India.

July 1, 2015 at 01:50 PM | Permalink


How many millions of lives were ruined with criminal records and jail or prison time because they were too stupid to know drugs were harmful? The government said so and the proof is in their rap sheets.

And after all the years of the war on drugs, the government is going overseas to a $50,000 kingpin to cop a drug that will kill people. This with more premeditation than 99.9% of murderers.

Posted by: George | Jul 1, 2015 2:26:04 PM

The anti side won the fund raising battle in California as well but still their measure failed.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jul 1, 2015 5:54:30 PM

When most of the money is coming from one family on one side and an out-of-state super pac on the other side, I am not sure you can talk about a fund-raising "battle." This is more a fundraising "duel" with checkbooks as the weapon of choice.

This campaign to date seems to be about a handful of deep wallets and how much they are willing to spend. For those of us in real grassroots politics, fundraising is about getting $100 here and $200 there. A fundraising battle in which both sides are getting money in small amounts from donors says something about the support that both sides have among voters. A fundraising battle that is about the size of two or three checkbooks on each side says very little about what voters will do.

Posted by: tmm | Jul 1, 2015 6:53:46 PM

The death penalty violates the right to life which happens to be the most basic of all human rights. It also violates the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment. Furthermore, the death penalty undermines human dignity which is inherent to every human being.

Posted by: Perlet & Shiner P.A. | Jul 3, 2015 12:29:46 AM

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