Settlement in conflict of interest case
June 13, 2016
To whom it may concern: A year ago I reported to you about a conflict-of issue filed against me with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission. After a year, the Commission made a decision that asked me to accept a settlement or go forward to a hearing.
After much thought and discussion with friends and family, I agreed to the terms of the settlement. Although I believe the Commission's decision was in error, going forward to a full hearing would involve an additional expense of roughly $10,000 on my part for legal representation, so I agreed to the settlement.
I fully support the concept of legislators reporting conflicts of interest. Unfortunately, the rules are unclear about when this is necessary. Based on my case, it would seem that a property-owning senator would have a conflict of interest if they vote on a bill either raising or lowering property taxes. I have shared my story with attorney friends who agree that statutory definitions should be redrafted to more thoroughly define what is expected. Oddly enough, once a conflict of interest statement has been filed, a senator can still vote on a bill despite the conflict. I am not sure that this is the correct way to handle these issues, so I will support attempts to improve the law. In the meantime, I will pay the fine and move on.
Senator Al Davis