Letter to the Editor

Open letter

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Dear Editor,

In releasing an open letter to challenger David Hergert, University of Nebraska Regent Don Blank made the following statement:

"I signed the Political Accountability commission spending limits adopted by the Legislature because I agree with the people's desire to control campaign spending. The citizens of Nebraska do not want more public offices dominated by big spending. Two of the last Regent elections brought public cries of buying the election, which overshadowed any discussion about ideas, experience or leadership."

Neither the State of Nebraska, nor the University are well served by the politics of money. I want to lead the way to bring campaigns for the Board of Regents back to reality. Important positions should not be for sale to the highest bidder.

"I do not want to participate in the pressures or influence that result from massive campaign spending. As I serve again as chairman of the Board of Regents, I know that it is imperative that no member of the Board of Regents be influenced by the politics of money. I hope my strong belief in campaign spending limits will provide the initiative needed to control foolish and unnecessary spending.

"The university must concentrate its resources on quality education and addressing the needs of Nebraska. Prudent good judgment is required for University spending just as I believe it should be reflected in campaign spending.

The following the is text of Blank's letter:

Dear Mr. Hergert,

Now that the primary is behind us, we need to approach the general election with the goal of allowing the voters of our district the opportunity to select their next representative on the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, based on ideas, leadership and experience.The Nebraska Legislature in 2000 followed the will of the people by enacting a law that established spending limits on major political races.

This was done for three reasons: (1) massive spending should not be a deciding factor in determining who is elected to public office; (2) massive spending places the emphasis on wealthy individuals and fund raising, and eliminates that average Nebraskan from serving; and (3) massive spending always presents the strong possibility of influence by those contributing or spending in these campaigns.

I signed the Political Accountability Commission spending limit compliance form in July of 2003, and that limit for the Board of Regents is $25,000 in the primary election and $25,000 in the general election.

I abided by that spending limit in the primary, as did 97 percent of the other candidates in all of the races covered by the by the campaign limitation statute. Candidates can choose not to abide by these spending limits, as you did in the primary. However, their opponent who did choose to abide by the limit, then receives additional non-tax money for their campaigns. I received some of those funds in the primary, not by my choice, but because of your choice to not abide by the spending limit.

In the past two Board of Regents elections in Eastern Nebraska, two candidates spent nearly three quarters of a million dollars on their campaigns. Nebraskans statewide were appalled by this, and not surprisingly, cries of buying an election, surfaced in both cases.

I encouraged you to join me and abide by the will of the Nebraska people, and limit your spending in the general election to $25,000.

This level of spending will allow us to get our message out, and then we can concentrate on meeting with the people to discuss our ideas, our vision, our experience and how we would provide leadership to our great university. Citizens of Western Nebraska want a regent that is fiscally responsible.

Our respective decisions about campaign spending will undoubtedly be reflected in our decisions as a Regent.

Please join me by being fiscally responsible in this general election, because fiscal responsibility is the hallmark of Nebraskans.


Don Blank


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