ADVISORY OPINION DIGEST

(Digest entries for Advisory Opinions 1 through 132 are not currently available)

Advisory Opinion 133

Adopted – April 19, 1991

Subject- Campaign Finance

Requested by: The Honorable Elroy M. Hefner, State Senator, District #19

Summary: We believe that Senator Hefner has shown a sufficient connection between the duties of his public office and the People to People study mission to the Soviet Union to justify the use of his campaign funds pursuant to Section 49-1446.01(1)(g) to pay for meals, lodging, and travel expenses associated with the study mission.

Advisory Opinion 134

Adopted – July 26, 1991

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Kerry P. Egan, Deputy Lancaster County Attorney

Summary: A county official or county employee has a business association with a corporation when he or she serves on the governing body of that corporation by virtue of his or her public office or position. The Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act does prohibit a public official or public employee from serving on the governing board of a private, non-profit corporation which contracts with the political subdivision served by the public official or public employee.

Advisory Opinion 135

Adopted – December 6, 1991

Subject- Campaign Financing

Requested by: The Honorable Richard Peterson, State Senator, District #21

Summary: A candidate may not use the funds of the candidate committee for the purpose of challenging a redistricting plan in court.  Such use of campaign funds does not fall within any of the permissible use categories provided by statute.

Advisory Opinion 136

Adopted – December 6, 1991

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Kerry P. Egan, Deputy Lancaster County Attorney

Summary: A Lancaster County Commissioner in the process of obtaining her license to be a nursing home administrator may complete an administrator-in-training program under a certified preceptor at a county owned nursing home. However, using her position as County Commissioner to secure a position at the nursing home or to influence the evaluation process affecting her licensure is prohibited.  While the proposed course of action gives an appearance of impropriety, it is not prohibited by the provisions of the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act.

Advisory Opinion 137

Adopted – January 17, 1992

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Gary E. Lacey, Lancaster County Attorney

Summary: The county attorney would have a prohibited interest in any contract between the county and his spouse and in any contract between the county and the firm in which his spouse is a partner. This interest would render the contract voidable unless he disclosed on the record to the county board the nature and extent of his interest in the contract and refrained from providing legal advice to, or legal representation of, the county board in connection with the contract. He would also be required to refrain from using the power or influence of his public office in order to induce for his spouse or her firm favorable rulings or legal positions from his staff.

Advisory Opinion 138

Adopted – May 29, 1992

Subject- Campaign Finance

Requested by: Mary Rose Jennison, Treasurer, National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, Institute for Legislative Action.

Summary: The NRA is a corporation doing business in the State of Nebraska and is therefore subject to the provisions of §49-1469 requiring corporations to file reports of contributions and expenditures.

Advisory Opinion 139

Adopted – July 2, 1992

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Dorothy Barlean, Member, Board of Directors Butler County Rural Public Power District

Summary: A director of a public power district may not accept salary plus benefits if the total is more than the statutory maximum compensation permitted by section 70-624.02. A director of a public power district may not accept health insurance benefits from the district regardless of the value of the benefits. A public power district director may participate in insurance plans for which he or she is eligible as long as the plan is not established or contracted for by the district. He or she may have the district withhold portions or his or her salary for the purpose of paying for the premium.

Advisory Opinion 140

Adopted – August 13, 1993

Subject- Lobbying

Requested by: The Honorable Stan Schellpeper, State Senator, District #18

Summary: A state senator may not accept an honorarium from a principal or a lobbyist of more than $50 unless consideration of equal or greater value is given therefor. A state senator may not accept transportation out of state or lodging with a value of more than $50 from a principal or lobbyist unless the state senator gives consideration of equal or greater value. The participation of a state senator in a program in connection with the transportation or lodging, as opposed to mere attendance, constitutes consideration of equal value. Food and drink for immediate consumption and occasional transportation around the State of Nebraska may be provided by a principal or lobbyist to a state senator. A state senator may accept honoraria, food, lodging, and travel from persons or entities which are not principals, lobbyists, or acting on behalf of either.

Advisory Opinion 141

Adopted – November 5, 1993

Subject- Campaign Finance

Requested by: Patricia A. Theno, Manager/Public Affairs, U. S. West Communications Inc.

Summary: The combined PAC plan as proposed does not meet the requirements of the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act because the allocation between the state and federal PAC is not made by the contributor and because the Nebraska portion is not immediately placed in the designated official depository of the Nebraska PAC.

Advisory Opinion 142

Adopted – November 5, 1993

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Eugene Cerny, Superintendent, Madison Public Schools

Summary: A school board member may be employed as a substitute bus driver by the school district if he or she follows the proper procedures set forth in §49-14,103.01. The board member must avoid using his or her influence and power as a school board member in order to secure personal financial gain. As a matter of general advice, a public official seeking to hold two public positions at once should review any statutes pertaining to either of those positions. Chapter 79 of the State Statutes governs school board members and school employees. For example, section 79-466 prohibits a school board member from being employed as a teacher in the same school district. While we are unaware of any prohibition in Chapter 79 pertaining to substitute bus drivers and school board members, consultation with the school board's attorney on this issue would be appropriate.

Advisory Opinion 143

Adopted – April 22, 1994

Subject- Campaign Finance

Requested by: Michael Nolan, Norfolk City Administrator

Summary: The City of Norfolk may engage in an information program regarding a question to appear on the ballot as long as fairness and neutrality are maintained. The information must be presented in a balanced, factual manner and not advocate or oppose the ballot question or attempt to persuade the voters.

Advisory Opinion 144

Adopted – April 22, 1994

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by:  Thomas Mumgaard, Assistant City Attorney, on behalf of Omaha City Council Member Frank Christensen
Summary: A city council member with an interest in a corporation holding a liquor license does not have a potential conflict of interest as to all matters coming before the city council which involve liquor licenses or the holders of liquor licenses. The council member only has a conflict of interest if the matter before the city council could result in a financial benefit or detriment to the corporation. The benefit or detriment must be distinguishable from the effects of the action or decision on the general public or a broad segment of it. Under such circumstances the city council member must file a written statement with the Commission describing the specific matter before the city council.

Advisory Opinion 145

Adopted – July 8, 1994

Subject- Campaign Finance

Requested by: C. Matthew Samuelson, Thurston County Attorney, on behalf of Harold Obermeyer, Thurston County Sheriff

Summary: A county sheriff, while not subject to the provisions of Section 20-160, is subject to the provisions of Section 49-14,101(4) and is therefore prohibited from engaging in overt and deliberate campaign activities while in uniform. The sheriff may use photos of himself in uniform for campaign literature and may respond to questions or inquiries from the public, even if campaign related in nature, while in uniform and on duty.

Advisory Opinion 146

Adopted – July 8, 1994

Subject- Campaign Finance

Requested by: The Honorable Eric Will, State Senator, District #8

Summary: A state senator may use campaign funds to hire a person to assist with the preparation of a social event for campaign workers and constituents to be held at the senator's home. A state senator may expend campaign funds to hire an individual to clean his home following a social event for campaign workers and constituents. Finally, a state senator may expend campaign funds to hire an individual to assist with the cleaning of his home in advance of a social event for campaign workers and constituents if the surrounding circumstances indicate that the cleaning is truly connected with the social event and not primarily personal in nature.

Advisory Opinion 147

Adopted – July 8, 1994

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Michael P. Manly on behalf of the Nebraska Association of County Officials

Summary: A door prize awarded to a county official attending a convention at county expense is the property of the county official and not the county. Under these circumstances the door prize is a gift. A county official who is required to file annual Statements of Financial Interests must show the door prize on his or her Statement of Financial Interests if the door prize has a value of more than $100. The provisions of Section 49-1490 do not apply to county officials.

Advisory Opinion 148

Adopted – August 19, 1994

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Bruce T. Rowe, Director of the Bureau of Family Health Services, Nebraska Department of Health

Summary: To the extent that it assists the Nutrition Division of the Nebraska Department of Health in carrying out its duties, the Director of the Division may make occasional use of state computers on behalf of the Lincoln Dietetic Association. However, the approval of the immediate supervisor or the governing body is required.

Advisory Opinion 149

Adopted – August 19, 1994

Subject- Campaign Finance

Requested by: The Honorable M. L. Dierks, State Senator, District #40

Summary: A state senator may use campaign funds to install a separate telephone line in his home if the purpose of the line is to make and receive campaign calls and constituent calls.

Advisory Opinion 150

Adopted –August 19, 1994

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Frank C. Lloyd, Assistant Commissioner and Director of the Vocational and Rehabilitation Division of the Nebraska Department of Education

Summary: A state employee may engage in consultation and speaking activities outside of his or her state employment if these activities are not activities which relate to his or her duties of state employment. State personnel, resources, property, or funds may not be used in connection with outside consultation and speaking activities.

Advisory Opinion 151

Adopted – November 18, 1994

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Dean Skokan, Fremont City Attorney on behalf of Fremont City Council Member Diane Johnson

Summary: A city council member whose spouse manages a liquor store may vote on matters coming before the city council pertaining to liquor license holders in general or applications for special permits by the employer of the spouse as long as the spouse has no connection with the business other than as a salary or wage earner. The council member should not vote upon the matter of the renewal or non-renewal of the liquor license of the spouse's employer.

Advisory Opinion 152

Adopted – January 5, 1995

Subject- Campaign Finance

Requested by: Rosalie Shepherd, State Director, United We Stand America - Nebraska

Summary: The brochure in question opposes the nomination or election of certain candidates. The cost of the brochure, therefore, is an expenditure which does not fall within any of the exceptions to the term expenditure. The expenditure must be reported by United We Stand America - Nebraska in accordance with the provisions of the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act.

Advisory Opinion 153

Adopted – January 6, 1995

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: James E. Papik, Attorney for Butler County Rural Public Power District

Summary: A public power district may use public funds to pay a claim because of the subsequent passage of legislation which is intended to be remedial.

Advisory Opinion 154

Adopted – February 10, 1995

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Mark B. Horton, M.D., M.S.P.H., Director of the Nebraska Department of Health

Summary: When a state employee is the president of a private organization, he has a business association with that organization.  The organization may not enter into a contract with the state agency unless the provisions of §49-14,102 are met.   The provisions of §49-14,102 apply even if the state employee serves as president of the organization by reason of his state agency’s membership in the organization.

Advisory Opinion 155

Adopted – February 10, 1995

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Kerry P. Eagan, Chief Administrative Officer of Lancaster County, on behalf of Linda Steinman, Lancaster County Commissioner

Summary: There is nothing in the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act which prohibits a county commissioner from serving on the governing board of an entity which does business with the county. However, in matters involving contracts between the county and the entity, the provisions of §49-14,103.01 apply. In noncontractual matters between the county and the entity in which there is a possibility of a financial benefit or detriment to the entity, the provisions of §49-1499 apply.

Advisory Opinion 156

Adopted – March 24, 1995

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Arlene Thietje, Purchasing Agent, City of Norfolk

Summary: A municipality has those powers expressly granted, necessarily or fairly implied, or essential to the declared purposes of the municipality. It is permissible for a municipality to expend public funds for an open house of municipal facilities or for informational or educational events regarding a municipal function. The Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission will not take exception to expenditures of public funds reasonably connected with such events as long as there is no special benefit to public officials or public employees and the funds are not being used to support or oppose a candidate or ballot question.

Advisory Opinion 157

Adopted – March 24, 1995

Subject- Lobbying

Requested by: The Honorable Ed Schrock, State Senator, District #38

Summary: Nebraska state senators may not accept scholarships in amounts of more than $50 from the ALEC Nebraska Scholarship Account. Funds contributed to the Nebraska Scholarship Account are earmarked for use by Nebraska state senators and the gift limitation found in §49-1490 may be exceeded.

Advisory Opinion 158

Adopted – March 24, 1995

Subject- Campaign Finance

Requested by: Thomas DuBose, National Chairman, Transportation Political Education League

Summary: A Nebraska separate segregated political fund or PAC may not accept a check from its collecting agent unless it also receives the name of each contributor, the address of each contributor, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the contribution.

Advisory Opinion 159

Adopted – March 24, 1995

Subject- Lobbying

Requested by: Senators Tim Hall, Joyce Hillman, and Ron Withem, and Clerk of the Legislature Patrick O'Donnell

Summary: State Senators may solicit funds for the purpose of hosting a conference a five-state legislative conference.  However, any funds donated by a lobbyist, a principal or someone acting on behalf of either, are subject to the $50 per month limitation.

Advisory Opinion 160

Adopted – June 16, 1995

Subject- Campaign Finance

Requested by: Judy Monaghan, Lobbyist for Scientific Games, Inc.

Summary: A lobbyist whose principal is a lottery contractor may make a contribution to a candidate for state elective office as long as the lobbyist is not an officer of the lottery contractor or acting on behalf of the lottery contractor, an officer of the lottery contractor, or a separate segregated political fund established and administered by the lottery contractor. A lottery contractor, an officer of a lottery contractor, or a separate segregated political fund established and administered by a lottery contractor may not make a contribution to a Nebraska political party for the purpose of supporting or opposing a candidate for state elective office. Therefore, the Commission strongly recommends that a contribution to a Nebraska political party committee be earmarked in such a way that it will not be used to support or oppose candidates for state elective office.

Advisory Opinion 161

Adopted – June 16, 1995

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Ellen Totzke, Hall County Attorney

Summary: County personnel, resources, property, or funds may be used for county purposes only. They may not be used for the personal financial gain of a deputy public defender except that compensation which is provided by law. Thus, county resources should not be used in connection with a private client of a deputy public defender in Hall County. A deputy public defender may appear in court on behalf of a private client as long as it does not interfere with his or her official duties and as long as vacation leave is taken if the activity results in less than a full work week. County telephones are to be used for county business. They may be used for occasional personal matters if the appropriate county official or the county board believes that such use ultimately facilitates county business. Use of county telephones for the purpose of conducting a private business for money or in connection with political party activities is prohibited.

Advisory Opinion 162

Adopted – September 8, 1995

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Daniel L. Lindstrom of the Community Redevelopment Authority for the City of Kearney

Summary: Members of a community redevelopment authority are public officials as defined in §49-1443. A community redevelopment authority is a separate political subdivision and its board members are not subject to the provisions of §49-14,103.01. Sections 18-2102.01(4), 18-2106, and 49-14,102 are in pari materia and should be construed together.

Advisory Opinion 163

Adopted – September 8, 1995

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Gerard A. Piccolo, Hall County Public Defender

Summary: A county board may permit deputy public defenders not subject to §23-3401 to use county resources in connection with the private practice of law as long as the permitted use is part of the compensation package which is properly reported to the appropriate taxing authorities.

Advisory Opinion 164

Adopted – December 1, 1995

Subject- Campaign Finance

Requested by: Spencer W. Morrissey and the Morrissey for Legislature Committee

Summary: Campaign funds may be used to purchase a computer and a desk as long as they are purchased for the purpose of running the campaign; that is, supporting the nomination or election of the candidate.

Advisory Opinion 165

Adopted – February 23, 1996

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Amy Hollenbeck, Assistant Attorney General

Summary: An assistant attorney general may not enter into a contract for the possible production of a movie based upon a case which she prosecuted since to do so would constitute a use of public office for personal financial gain in violation of §49-14,101(3).

Advisory Opinion 166

Adopted – June 28, 1996

Subject- Conflicts of Interest

Requested by: Richard A. Douglas, Attorney for Western Community College Area

Summary: A public employee serving in his or her official capacity as a member of a non-public body may engage in activities in conjunction with the body's promotion or opposition of matters before the Nebraska Legislature. He or she may also participate in a vote on a resolution by the non-public body expressing support of or opposition to the qualification, passage, or defeat of a ballot question.

Advisory Opinion 167

Adopted – September 6, 1996

Subject- Conflicts of Interest

Requested by: James S. Jansen, Douglas County Attorney

Summary: The county attorney has a potential conflict of interest in the litigation involving a retirement fund in which he has an interest. He should not, therefore, represent the defendants in the suit. The Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Act does not absolutely bar the deputy county attorneys from providing representation to the defendants in the suit. However, advice given or action taken by the deputy county attorneys in connection with the suit could constitute evidence of a violation of §49-14,101(3) because of their interest in the retirement fund.

Advisory Opinion 168

Adopted – November 1, 1996

Subject- Conflicts of Interest

Requested by: Anthony F. Raimondo, Chairman, Nebraska Economic Development Commission

Summary: A member of the Economic Development Commission does not have a conflict of interest if a business with which he is associated applies for a Customized Job Training Grant from the Department of Economic Development because he is not faced with taking an official action or making an official decision in connection with the application. The member may not have an interest in a contract with the Department of Economic Development unless the contract is awarded through an open and public process.

Advisory Opinion 169

Adopted – December 13, 1996

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Maxine B. Moul, Director, Nebraska Department of Economic Development

Summary: The procedure proposed for use by the Department of Economic Development when a public official or public employee has an interest in a contractual grant from the Department is an open and public process in that it provides for public notice in advance of the award, the opportunity to comment on making the award, and the opportunity to review the grant application, the DED staff recommendations, and the terms of the proposed award.

Advisory Opinion 170

Adopted – January 24, 1997

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Christopher Hoy, Director of Special Projects, Nebraska Department of Economic Development

Summary: A state employee or official may engage in private consultation outside the State of Nebraska. State personnel, property, resources or funds may not be used in connection with the private consulting business. Confidential information received through the holding of a public position should not be used. A web site may be established subject to the same restrictions.

Advisory Opinion 171

Adopted – April 18, 1997

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Janet Drudik, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Director, Nebraska Department of Education

Summary: An employee of the Nebraska Department of Education may, in her private capacity and on her own time, do vocational assessments of individuals who will not receive this service through the department. State resources should not be used in connection with these private vocational assessments. Confidential information received through the holding of a public position should not be used.

Advisory Opinion 172

Adopted – April 18, 1997

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Louise A. Weyer, Training Specialist, Nebraska Public Employees Retirement Systems

Summary: A state employee who, as part of her official duties, conducts preretirement seminars for participants in the retirement systems administered by the state, may conduct preretirement seminars on her own time for individuals who are not participants in these systems. State resources should not be used in connection with private seminars. Confidential information received through the holding of a public position should not be used.

Advisory Opinion 173

Adopted – April 18, 1997

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Carol J. Iverson, School and Adolescent Health Consultant, Nebraska Health and Human Services

Summary: A state employee, who holds the position of School and Adolescent Health Nursing Coordinator may contract with a national organization to develop and teach on her own time a course for school nurses on appropriate assessment of school age youth as to their cardio-vascular status. Public resources should not be used except on the same basis that these resources may be used by any member of the public. Confidential information received through the holding of a public position should not be used.

Advisory Opinion 174

Adopted – June 6, 1997

Subject- Conflicts of Interest

Requested by: Darrold Lammers, Electric Superintendent, South Sioux City, Nebraska

Summary: A city employee who serves as the manager or superintendent of the city electric distribution system may privately sell products designed to protect electronics equipment from electrical surges. All sales activity must occur on the employee's own time and not on city time or when the employee is engaged in city duties. City resources may not be used in connection with this private business activity. Confidential information received through the holding of the public position should not be used.

Advisory Opinion 175

Adopted – June 6, 1997

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Lynn Folcik, Child Protective Service Supervisor, Nebraska Health and Human Services

Summary: An employee of Nebraska Health and Human Services does not have a conflict of interest merely because she also serves as a member of a mental health board. She should engage in mental health duties only on her own time and not on state time or when otherwise engaged in her state duties. It is not for the Commission to determine if an outside professional activity of a state employee is incompatible with her state employment.

Advisory Opinion 176

Adopted – July 18, 1997

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Beth E. Mares, Saline County Commissioner and Tad D. Eickman, Saline County Attorney

Summary: A county commissioner may participate in hiring decisions for a public position even if her spouse is an applicant as long as there is a reasonable solicitation and consideration of applications and the required disclosure is made. The county commissioner may participate in decisions as to the duties and salary range of the position only if the decisions are made prior to a hiring decision or if her spouse is not the individual hired.

Advisory Opinion 177

Adopted – July 18, 1997

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Tim O'Neill, Attorney, on behalf of Jerry Prange, LaVern Goens, and J & L Consulting, Inc.

Summary: It is permissible under the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act for a corporation to enter into a contract with a state agency even if two employees of that agency have a business association with the corporation. However, the requirements of §49-14,102 must be met. That is, the contract must be entered into through an open and public process. If the employees do not in any way represent either party to the transaction, §49-14,102 does not apply. Section 49-14,101(3) prohibits a public employee from using his or her public office or confidential information received through the holding of a public office for personal financial gain, that of an immediate family member, or a business with which the individual is associated.

Advisory Opinion 178

Adopted – December 19, 1997

Subject- Campaign Finance

Requested by: Greg Vasek, Treasurer, The Breslow Committee

Summary: A candidate committee may solicit and receive campaign contributions via the Internet provided the process used by the committee permits it to secure the information it needs to fulfill its record keeping and reporting requirements under the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act. Websites established by candidate committees must comply with the disclaimer law for printed materials.

Advisory Opinion 179

Adopted – April 17, 1998

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Con Bernbeck, Stanton County Commissioner

Summary: A county commissioner who, in his private capacity, rents grain storage space to a feeder pig operation and whose storage facilities are normally at capacity, does not have a potential conflict of interest if the feeder pig operation applies to the county board for a conditional use permit to increase the number of pigs which can be fed. A county commissioner whose privately owned scale is occasionally used by the feeder pig operation to weigh grain does not have a conflict of interest in the matter of the application for a conditional use permit when the increased use of the scale as the result of an increase in the number of pigs is speculative or uncertain.

Advisory Opinion 180

Adopted – March 5, 1999

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Carolyn Johnsen, Reporter and Producer, Nebraska Public Radio

Summary: A reporter may not use the materials of the Nebraska Educational Telecommunication Commission for the private venture of writing a book if those materials are confidential or otherwise unavailable to the public.

Advisory Opinion 181

Adopted – March 5, 1999

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Mary Ann Borgeson, Douglas County Board of Commissioners

Summary: A county board member who serves by virtue of that position as a member of a mental health region board and a county hospital board of trustees does not have a conflict of interest as to matters coming before any of those governing bodies involving her employer if mere employment is her only connection with the matter. Nothing in the NPADA would prohibit her from serving as the chair of the hospital board of trustees. It is not a conflict of interest to simultaneously serve as a county board member and the Policy Secretary for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. The NPADA does not address the concept of dual office holding.

Advisory Opinion 182

Adopted – March 3, 2000

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Janet L. Killiam, Field Representative, Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Summary: An employee of the Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing may operate a private business which sells devices to individuals who are hearing impaired.  She may not conduct private business while engaged in the duties of her public position.  She may not use confidential information for the benefit of her business.  She may not use state resources in connection with her business.

Advisory Opinion 183

Adopted – March 3, 2000

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Carolyn Johnsen, Reporter and Producer, Nebraska Public Radio

Summary: A reporter may use the broadcast materials of the Nebraska Educational Telecommunication Commission for the private venture of writing a book if the broadcast materials are used on the same basis as any member of the public.

Advisory Opinion 184

Adopted – January 19, 2001

Subject- Campaign Finance

Requested by: Randall Ritnour, treasurer, Defense of Marriage Amendment (DOMA) Committee

Summary: (1) A ballot question committee may use campaign funds for the purpose of litigation in support of a ballot question only to extent that the litigation relates to the qualification, passage, or defeat of the ballot question.  (2) A ballot question committee may use campaign funds for the purpose of engaging in public debate in support of or opposition to a ballot question only until the question has been decided by popular vote.

Advisory Opinion 185

Adopted – January 25, 2002

Subject- Campaign Finance

Requested by: Vicki Powell, Campaign Manager, Johanns for Governor Committee Summary: (1) A governor candidate committee may pay the expenses of a potential lieutenant governor candidate at any time during the course of the gubernatorial campaign, given the fact that the lieutenant governor candidate is a member of the campaign team, and is both precluded by law from establishing a separate campaign committee, and required by law to be included in the candidate committee with the candidate for governor of the same political party.  The governor candidate selects his or her choice of candidate for lieutenant governor, and there is no preclusion in the law preventing a governor candidate from selecting a potential running mate prior to the outcome of the primary election, and prior to said lieutenant governor candidate becoming an official ballot candidate based on the outcome of the primary election, and the subsequent filing of the affidavit and consent with the Secretary of State some time prior to September 1 of the election year.

(2) Any campaign expense qualifying as an expenditure that assists or influences the nomination or election of either or both the candidate for governor and the candidate for lieutenant governor of a governor candidate committee of the same political party is a legitimate and permissible campaign expenditure.  Campaign funds may be used to pay any non-prohibited, campaign-related expense, including expenses incurred by any campaign officer, staff person, or volunteer, as well as those of the candidate(s) themselves.

Advisory Opinion 186

Adopted – September 13, 2002

Subject- Campaign Finance

Requested by: Pamela A. Redfield, State Senator, District 12

Summary: We therefore find that a member of the Legislature may use public resources to produce a weekly newsletter sent out to constituents and newspapers by either electronic, postal, or other mail means when the subject of the newsletter is a ballot question whether the newsletter is informational and fact-based only, or whether it is used to express and communicate the member’s opinion regarding the ballot question.  A member of the Legislature may not utilize a newsletter or other mass mailing or mass communication at public expense for the purpose of advocating qualification and support of, or opposition to, a ballot question.

Advisory Opinion 187

Adopted – April 11, 2003

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Douglas D. Christensen, Commissioner, Nebraska Department of Education

Summary: The Education Commissioner may serve on the board of a private corporation which contracts with the Department of Education, provided any such contract valued at $2,000 or more in any one year is awarded through an open and public process as required by Section 49-14,102.  The provisions of Section 49-1499.02 must be followed in the case of any action or decision by the Commissioner which could cause a financial benefit or detriment to the private corporation.  In accordance with Section 49-14,101.01, the Commissioner may not use his public office, any confidential information received through the holding of his public office, or any public resources for the financial gain of the private corporation. 

Advisory Opinion 188

Adopted – March 5, 2004

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Glenn D. Johnson, Joint Antelope Valley Authority and Barbara Morley, Lower Platte South Natural Resources District

Summary: A member of the board of directors of a Natural Resources District does not have an interest in a contract with the NRD if the member sells land to a separate legal entity created pursuant to the Interlocal Cooperation Act, even if the NRD is part of the agreement which created the Interlocal entity.

Advisory Opinion 189

Adopted – August 13, 2004

Subject- Campaign Finance

Requested by: Jim Jensen, State Senator, District 20

Summary: A member of the Legislature may use public resources and personnel to produce an editorial expressing his or her opinion as to a ballot question.  The editorial may be emailed to all other members of the Legislature using the legislative email system.  The editorial may be emailed via the legislative email system to sixty to ninety newspapers in Nebraska.

Advisory Opinion 190

Adopted – September 10, 2004

Subject- Conflict of Interest

Requested by: Dale Dvorak and Ray Branstiter, Nebraska Department of Roads.

Summary: An employee of the Nebraska Department of Roads may submit a bid on a contract with the Department.  The NDOR may award a contract to one of its employees as long as the contract is entered into through an open and public process which includes prior public notice and subsequent availability for public inspection of the proposals considered and the contract awarded.  The employee must complete the contract on his own time and using his own equipment.  No state resources may be used.

Advisory Opinion 191

Adopted – October 22, 2004

Subject- Campaign Finance

Requested by: L. Steven Grasz on behalf of Lorelee Byrd

Summary: A candidate committee may not use campaign funds to pay legal expenses unless the use of the funds is an expenditure as defined in §49-1419.  That is, the expenditure is in assistance of the nomination or election of a candidate.  It is the candidate committee which must establish that the use of campaign funds to pay legal expenses qualifies as an expenditure.

Advisory Opinion 192

Adopted – March 25, 2005

Subject- Campaign Finance

Requested by: State Senator Pam Redfield

Summary: A member of the Legislature who cannot seek reelection to the Legislature because of term limits is not required to file affidavits pursuant to the Campaign Finance Limitation Act unless he or she is a candidate for a different covered elective office.

Advisory Opinion 193

Adopted- March 23, 2007

Subject- Conflicts of Interest

Requested by: State Treasurer Shane Osborn

Summary: The NPADA does not prohibit the Nebraska State Treasurer from engaging in outside business activity. State resources should not be used in connection with this outside activity. Confidential information received through the holding of a state elective office should not be used in connection with outside business activity.

Advisory Opinion 194

Adopted- March 23, 2007

Subject- Conflicts of Interest

Requested by: Willis Roethemeyer, Lincoln County Commissioner

Summary: A county commissioner who is also a developer does not have a conflict of interest as to a proposed zoning regulation amendment because under the circumstances there is no reasonably foreseeable financial benefit or detriment to the commissioner.  Any financial benefit or detriment is contingent, speculative or uncertain.


Advisory Opinion 195

Adopted- October 12, 2007

Subject- Campaign Finance

Requested by: Bill Avery, State Senator, District 28

Summary: The funds of a candidate committee of a State Senator may be used to establish a legislative website which will not be used for campaigning or campaign purposes. Legislative staff may participate in maintaining the content of the website and responding to constituents and others communicating through the website.

Advisory Opinion 196

Adopted- March 14, 2008

Subject- Campaign Finance/Major Out of State Contributions

Requested by: Diane Schachterle, Director of Policy Planning, American Civil Rights Coalition

Summary: Donations to American Civil Rights Coalition are contributions. Contributions to American Civil Rights Coalition of more than $250 must be disclosed on its Out-of-State Contribution Reports.

Advisory Opinion 197

Adopted- March 14, 2008

Subject- Lobbying/Donations to underwrite an event

Requested by: Mike Flood, Speaker of the Legislature and DiAnna Schimek, State Senator

Summary: A Nebraska lobbyist or a Nebraska Principal which makes a donation to a national organization, of which the State of Nebraska is a member, to assist in underwriting an event at which a small percentage of the attendees will be members of the Nebraska Legislature is not making a reportable lobbying expenditure.

Advisory Opinion 198
Adopted:  August 20, 2009
Subject: Conflicts of Interest/Supervising a Family Member
Requested By: Sue Larson, Human Resources Administrator, Nebraska Department of Roads
Summary: If the Department of Roads promotes the employee to Highway Maintenance Supervisor and he is a supervisor of his son-in-law, the employee must notify the Director of the Department of Roads in writing of this situation within seven days.  He may continue to function in the new position pending action of the agency director.  Upon a written showing of good cause, the agency director may waive the prohibition against supervising a family member.  The agency director should file a copy of the employee’s written statement, a copy of the showing of good cause, and a copy of his decision to waive the restriction with the Commission.  The Commission will maintain these documents as public records.

Advisory Opinion 199
Adopted: March 12, 2010
Subject: Conflicts of Interest/ Use of public personnel, resources, property or funds.
Requested by: Thomas O. Mumgaard, Deputy Omaha City Attorney, on behalf of the Omaha City Council
Summary. Omaha Firefighters may not, under the terms of Section 49,101.01(2), use on duty time, paid for with taxpayer funds, to engage in a campaign to raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which is a private, charitable corporation.

Advisory Opinion 200
Adopted: August 26, 2011
Subject: Conflicts of Interests/Gifts
Requested by:  Duane Acklie
Summary: The proposed Nebraska’s First Spouse’s Fund relates to proposed expenses of the Governor’s Spouse. This Fund, as proposed, is consistent with the provisions of the NPADA.