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Regardless of who you lobby for, follow the rules. •Nebraska Examiner

Regardless of who you lobby for, follow the rules.  •Nebraska Examiner

When it comes to transparency and ethical behavior, telling the truth is an important principle. So imagine the surprise when the Nebraska Examiner reported that Arin Hess, who has promised to be “more careful” with his work “lobbying for Jesus” in the Capitol, was recently caught in a scheme to assassinate the clerk of the Legislature. deceive to expand his work. his access to lawmakers.

If you’re not familiar with Hess, he is a self-appointed chaplain for the state legislature. and he holds weekly “Bible studies” with senators. Last year, Common Cause Nebraska filed a complaint with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission alleging that Hess used material from explicitly political sources during his meetings—sources that were not limited to the teachings of Jesus, but had much to say about issues discussed in the House of Representatives.

The committee rejected the complaint, but Hess vowed to be more careful in how he engaged lawmakers, claiming his work was only religious and not political.

Fast forward a year. In March, Secretary of State Loren Lippincott requested that a hearing room in the Capitol be reserved for “district community leaders,” which was approved by Clerk of the Legislature Brandon Metzler. A reporter from the Nebraska Examiner found the meeting in progress and discovered it was Hess’ Bible study, not “district community leaders.”

Just two days before Lippincott submitted his request, the governor’s office had submitted a request for the same date and time, which was denied after the clerk determined that the stated purpose, “Pastor and Ministry Worker Day,” was actually for Hess. Within hours of Metzler’s denial of the governor’s request, Lippincott made the second deceptive attempt, which landed on Metzler. When Metzler heard Hess was using the interrogation room, he allegedly said, “I was lied to.”

The hearing rooms in the Capitol may not be used for any religious purpose. Common Cause Nebraska does not lose sight of the irony of the fraudulent efforts on Hess’s behalf. If Hess claimed he would use the hearing room for legislative rather than religious purposes, that would have been a valid request, but it would have been very similar to the lobbying efforts we objected to last year.

We don’t view these as minor mistakes: Senators and the governor all swear to support the United States and Nebraska constitutions, which enshrine the separation of church and state in law and prevent elected officials from giving preference to which religious society whatsoever. Showing favoritism to Hess by helping him gain access to interrogation rooms in the Capitol violates that oath of office. When the people we elect are willing to circumvent the law to benefit their own religious leaders, it is clear that power is being abused to our detriment.

We deserve officials who will not muddy the waters and lie to further one person’s lobby or religious beliefs in the Capitol. It’s in their oath of office and in our Nebraska and U.S. Constitutions.

Lippincott went against his oath of office when he lied to the clerk of the legislature about why he wanted to reserve a hearing room; He may also have violated Nebraska law. When he deliberately misled the clerk, Lippincott prevented Metzler from discharging the duties of his office, that is, the duty to enforce legislative space policy. (28-901) The Governor’s similarly misleading request for a reservation also violated his oath of office, but was fortunately quickly thwarted when the clerk discovered the true reason.

Lying about a room reservation may seem insignificant, but we should expect nothing less than that our elected officials fulfill their oath in word and deed by fully adhering to the law.

It seems unlikely that our unicameral legislature or the attorney general’s office will act. We have been down this road before – it is now up to us, the citizens of Nebraska, to put aside our differences and use the power of the ballot box to ensure that our elected officials fulfill their oath of office and that the laws of Nebraska apply equally to everyone. – without reservation.