Heineman returns TransCanada contribution


October 6th, 2010

By Fred Knapp, NET News

Governor Dave Heineman has returned a campaign contribution from the Canadian company that wants to build an oil pipeline through Nebraska.

The $2,500 contribution from TransCanada Keystone Pipeline was received in January. The governor’s latest campaign finance

Gov. Heineman returned $2,500 from TransCanada (Photo courtesy State of Nebraska)

report, received Oct. 6, says the money has now been returned. A September 30 th letter from campaign treasurer Bryan Robertson says “the committee learned today that a contribution it accepted was paid by an entity outside the United States.” The letter says the contribution was reported as coming from an Omaha address. But it adds “after reviewing the facts surrounding the contribution and the address of the contributor, the committee has decided to refund the contribution.” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Meister said he’s not buying that explanation from Republican governor Heineman’s campaign.

“I appreciate what they’re saying,” Meister said. “I don’t know that I buy their excuse. I think it’s really a situation where … that money’s been in their coffers since January.” “All of a sudden, I think now the polling data are showing that the pipeline going through the aquifer is not a good idea, he’s trying to get some traction back.” Meister added “I’ve been very vocal for the last several weeks that we need to do something to move the pipeline.”

Mike Meister said he doesn't "buy" Gov. Heineman's reason for returning the contribution (Photo courtesy Meister Campaign)

Meister said the governor should use his “bully pulpit” to advocate moving the pipeline farther east to avoid the threat of polluting the Ogallala aquifer. Heineman said the pipeline approval is a federal issue, and Meister should lobby Democrats who are in charge in Washington. Heineman’s campaign finance director Dean Dennhardt rejected Meister’s charge that the campaign returned the contribution in response to political heat.

“The Federal Election Commission says federal law prohibits foreign individuals and groups, including corporations, from contributing to federal, state or local elections,” Dennhardt said.

Attorney General Jon Bruning also returned a $2,500 contribution from TransCanada last week out of “an abundance of caution,” not because of the pipeline controversy, said campaign spokeswoman Holly Bolen. Bruning, a Republican, is unopposed for reelection.

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