OPINION NUMBER - 017

ADOPTED - 1978/07/13

SUBJECT - Public or rural power directors; Statements of Financial Interests filing at the time of filing for election.

REQUESTED BY: William W. Lyons, Attorney for McCook Public Power District.

QUESTION:

1. Do directors of a public power or rural power district who file for reelection have to file Statements of Financial Interests at the time they file for reelection if they have already filed the same for the prior calendar year on or before April 1 of the year of election?

2. Does a person filing for director of a public or rural power district, who is not an incumbent, have to file a Statement of Financial Interests at the time he files for election to that office and with what officials?

CONCLUSION

1. A Statement of Financial Interests would have to be filed with the Secretary of State but does not have to be filed again with the county clerk (or election commissioner) or with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission.

2. Yes, with the Secretary of State, and within 5 days with the Commission and within 5 days thereafter with his local county clerk or election commissioner.

ANALYSIS

Section 49-1494, R.S.Supp., 1976, subsection (1) provides that an individual who files to appear on the ballot for election of an elective office specified in section 49-1493 shall file a Statement of Financial Interests for the preceding calendar year at the same time and with the same official with whom the individual files for office and shall, within five days, file a copy of the statement with the Commission. The section goes on to provide that a filing to appear on the ballot shall not be accepted by the filing official unless a statement is properly filed. The section also provides that it shall not apply to a person who has already filed a statement "in that calendar year."

Subsection (2) of that section provides that if the candidate for an elective office covered by the Act, files to appear on the ballot for election prior to the January 1, of the year in which the election is held, the candidate shall file supplementary statements with the appropriate filing officials on or before April 1, of the year in which the election is held covering the preceding calendar year.

In view of the foregoing it is the interpretation of the Commission that if a Statement of Financial Interests is filed after January 1 of any calendar year and covers the prior calendar year that no additional statement is required to be filed at the time the incumbent in question files for reelection whether that filing for re-election takes place before or after April 1 of that year.

In other words it is necessary for a filing of a Statement of Financial Interests to be supplemented only in those situations where the calendar year prior to the year in which the election is held is not disclosed in a Statement of Financial Interests already on file.

Your letter of June 24, 1978, to Allen Beermann, Secretary of State, which has been referred to our office for response, raises the specific question of whether or not a Statement of Financial Interests must be filed with the Secretary of State by incumbent public or rural power directors who have previously filed their annual Statements of Financial Interests for the prior calendar year with county clerks (or election commissioners) and the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission. The answer here is that in the case of filing for the office of public or rural power director, the Secretary of State is the filing official who is responsible for complying with the provisions of section 49-1494 which require "A filing to appear on the ballot shall not be accepted by a filing official unless a statement is properly filed.

Section 49-1495(2) provides that any individual required to file a financial statement with the Commission pursuant to section 49-1493 shall, within 5 days file with the election commissioner or county clerk of his county residence, a copy of any such statement. Therefore, a person, who is not an incumbent and was not otherwise obligated to file an annual Statement of Financial Interests on or before April 1, 1978, must file a Statement of Financial Interests for the prior calendar year with the Secretary of State, and a copy thereof within 5 days thereafter with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, and within 5 days from filing with the Commission, another copy with his county clerk (or election commissioner), provided, that the filing for the office of public or rural power director is made with the Secretary of State after January 1 of the calendar year in which the election for that office is to be held.

In the case of where the filing for office is accomplished at the county clerk or election commissioner level, it is the county clerk or election commissioner who must comply with the requirement that a filing to appear on the ballot shall not be accepted by a filing official unless a Statement of Financial Interests is properly filed. And, it is our understanding that most county clerks and election commissioners are requiring the Statement of Financial Interests that must be filed with them by person seeking offices subject to filing with the Secretary of State at the time such persons pay their fees to the county treasurer. There is no objection to this procedure in that it results in satisfying the requirement of a copy having to be filed with the county clerk or election commissioner pursuant to the provisions of section 49-1495(2).