Where donors were identifiable, incumbent Nebraska Public Service Commissioners received 76% of campaign financing from industries they regulate or people directly connected to those industries.
Campaigns for public service commissioner are relatively inexpensive, with just $173,000 raised over the past decade. By comparison, an average of $39,831 was raised per Unicameral candidate during the 2009-2010 reporting period.1
From 2000-2012, $173,626 was given to funding races for the current public service commissioners. Of that amount, roughly $134,310 (76%) came from regulated industries or those connected to the industries and $39,316 (24%) came from donors outside of those industries.
55% of donors were from regulated industries or connected to them.
The largest industry donor gave more than the top 20 non-industry donors combined (NE State Transportation Political UTU PAC at $29,626 to $22,630) and the top non-industry donor gave less than the tenth largest industry donor (Building America’s Conscience and Kids PAC at $2,500 versus Rob Logsdon, Director of Cox Communications, at $2,998).
Commissioners serve 6 year terms and are on a 2 year election cycle.
Unlike the unicameral, there are no term limits for Commissioners, so they can serve as many times as they are elected.
Campaign contributions are only one aspect of industry influence. Beyond that are hired lobbyists who can provide unlimited, undisclosed food and drink to elected officials. They can also give $50 in gifts monthly to each official.
Donations of less than $250 do not require individual disclosure and are lumped together under a “Cash” heading.
Non-incumbents have a very difficult time entering the race, as most funding comes from industries who typically fund incumbents.
Non-incumbent campaigns are incredibly difficult to track, as Nebraska law only requires the formation of a campaign committee once $5000 in donations are received and, until that point, there are no requirements to report donations.