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Adversity draining the swamp?
Most of us are willing to go with the flow if things are going well, sitting up and paying attention only when confronted with adversity.
President Trump and other political candidates have drawn votes by promising to root out corruption, but it takes motivation and determination to actually do that job.
Newspaper reporters have traditionally played a part in that effort in pursuit of a hot story, another reason to support local journalism, struggling everywhere in the face of online competition that seeks only clicks, unencumbered by personal responsibility.
Slower to act, but more thorough, are the auditors who dissect the ledgers once called to action to investigate financial problems that arise in hard times.
Such is the case of the Nebraska State Fair, which has struggled to gain traction since moving “outstate” to Grand Island in 2010.
Heavy rains and low attendance last year did their best to sink the fair, culminating in the chief of finance and administration resigning in November with the warning that the event was headed for bankruptcy.
It wasn’t all the rains’ fault, state auditors concluded; the former fair official allegedly set up a corporation, collected nearly $150,000 from the fair and spent it on a personal pickup truck, an ATV, a trailer and land.
The State Fair board laid off eight employees last year after learning that the fair had lost a projected $1.4 million.
Accountants were apparently hard at work in Ohio as well, where the speaker of the state House of Representatives, an adviser, a former Ohio Republican Party chairman and the co-founder of a consulting firm were arrested on a federal bribery case.
Speaker Larry Householder and the three others are charged with accepting $60 million in bribes in connection with a taxpayer-funded bailout of Ohio’s two nuclear power plants.
Householder held the speaker position 20 years ago, but left because of term limits and while under investigation for alleged money laundering and campaign finance irregularities, but was not charged.
Householder and others pushed a plan which eliminated renewable energy incentives, directed $150 million a year toward the two nuclear plants and added a new fee to every electricity bill in the state.
Ohio residents will pay for the corruption through higher electricity bills and less renewable energy.
Nebraska residents will pay for corruption through taxes, a less attractive state fair experience, or both.
It’s worth noting that there’s a difference between the Nebraska State Fair and the Nebraska State Fair 1868 Foundation that supports it.
As soon as the State Auditors’ Report on the state fair came out, the foundation issued the following statement to assure the donors, members and supporters of the Nebraska State Fair 1868 Foundation that your investment in the 1868 Foundation is secure.
“The 1868 Foundation is a completely separate and distinct entity from the Nebraska State Fair, with a completely separate Board of Directors, completely separate financial accounts and robust accounting practices to keep each of your donations safe and sound,” said Lindsey Koepke, Executive Director.
“Rest assured that the 1868 Foundation has always had solid financial controls and accounting practices in place and we will always do what is right by your investment with the 1868 Foundation. “We are grateful for your continued support for the 1868 Foundation and promise to make sure that your investment in the future of your Nebraska State Fair is one that you can be proud of.”
“The Nebraska State Fair 1868 Foundation is a proud charitable 501(C)3 organization whose mission is to raise funds for the future of your Nebraska State Fair. For more information on the Nebraska State Fair 1868 Foundation, visit 1868foundation.org.”