Gubernatorial candidates address mudslinging

By: Jenn Schanz 

Gubernatorial candidate Jon Bruning hasn’t been shy about calling out the competition. He’s put out ads claiming fellow candidate, Pete Ricketts supports amnesty for illegal immigrants, fired 900 people, and helped fund third party attack ads against him.

Ricketts denies it all, and compares the attacks to those put out by Democrat Ben Nelson back in 2006, when Ricketts was running for U.S. Senate.

“They weren’t true then and they’re not true now,” he says. 

But Bruning stands by his ads.

“I think pointing out differences in my position and Pete Ricketts position is very fair.  I mean sometimes the truth hurts,” Bruning says.

He also claims the Ricketts family gave millions to groups like the Ending Spending Action Fund, which released a negative ad against him in 2012.

“I can tell you it’s not me, it’s not my Dad, and I’m not going to make careless accusations about who might be behind it,” Ricketts says. 

The Federal Election Commission puts a cap on how much a person can give to a single candidate, $2,600. But political science experts say because of campaign finance reform, contributions to third party groups, or Political Action Committees (PACs), is essentially limitless.

UNL Political Science Professor John Hibbing says because of this, smear ads can be almost impossible to trace.

“These PACs, that are very difficult to regulate and are supposedly uncoordinated, they can do lots of things and it’s difficult to know who is actually funding the PAC and whether the candidate has any involvement at all,” he says.