Gov. Ricketts defends decision to donate to death penalty campaign

Posted By: Megan Conway

Once the Legislature voted to repeal the death penalty, the group Nebraskans for the Death Penalty started petitioning in June to have the issue on a ballot for all Nebraskans to vote on. A leading supporter of the group is Governor Pete Ricketts.

"All Nebraskans, including myself, wish we lived in a world where we didn't have to have the death penalty because nobody wants to put somebody to death, but the fact of the matter is, we do have dangerous criminals and we ask our law enforcement officials to deal with them everyday," says Ricketts.

Recently, the Governor and his father contributed around $200,000 to the group to help in their efforts. Senator Bob Krist of Omaha, who's against the death penalty, says while he doesn't agree with the Governor, he thinks it was okay for him to donate money.

"If that's the only way that they can raise money, then maybe there might be an issue with how many people actually support reversing what the Legislature did," says Krist.

Ricketts strongly believes the majority of Nebraskans don't agree with the Legislature and that our law enforcement officials need the death penalty to protect citizens.

"I think the Legislature was out of touch with the vast majority of what Nebraskans feel and I think it's up to Nebraskans to be able to make this decision," says Ricketts.

"I have supported putting something on the ballot and letting the people decide the issue ever since I've come to the Legislature. I hope they get the votes to put it on the ballot and I hope that the Governor realizes that the final count in the people's hands, I believe, will support the Legislature," says Krist.

Governor Ricketts also said he might contribute more money in the future. The group needs 5 percent of Nebraska voters, or 57,000 signatures, in order to put the Legislative Bill on next year's ballot. If 10 percent of the state’s voters were to sign the petition, the repeal would be effectively stopped until voters had the chance to vote on it in 2016. Nebraskans for Public Safety, the group against the death penalty, will begin a statewide radio advertising campaign tomorrow, July 2nd.