Heineman returns TransCanada contribution
By KVNO News
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 governorâ€™s latest campaign finance
report, received Oct. 6, says the money has now been returned. A September 30 th letter from campaign treasurer Bryan Robertson says â€œthe committee learned today that a contribution it accepted was paid by an entity outside the United States.â€ The letter says the contribution was reported as coming from an Omaha address. But it adds â€œafter reviewing the facts surrounding the contribution and the address of the contributor, the committee has decided to refund the contribution.â€ Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Meister said heâ€™s not buying that explanation from Republican governor Heinemanâ€™s campaign.
â€œI appreciate what theyâ€™re saying,â€ Meister said. â€œI donâ€™t know that I buy their excuse. I think itâ€™s really a situation where â€¦ that moneyâ€™s been in their coffers since January.â€ â€œAll of a sudden, I think now the polling data are showing that the pipeline going through the aquifer is not a good idea, heâ€™s trying to get some traction back.â€ Meister added â€œIâ€™ve been very vocal for the last several weeks that we need to do something to move the pipeline.â€
Meister said the governor should use his â€œbully pulpitâ€ 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. Heinemanâ€™s campaign finance director Dean Dennhardt rejected Meisterâ€™s charge that the campaign returned the contribution in response to political heat.
â€œThe Federal Election Commission says federal law prohibits foreign individuals and groups, including corporations, from contributing to federal, state or local elections,â€ Dennhardt said.
Attorney General Jon Bruning also returned a $2,500 contribution from TransCanada last week out of â€œan abundance of caution,â€ not because of the pipeline controversy, said campaign spokeswoman Holly Bolen. Bruning, a Republican, is unopposed for reelection.
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