Having pleaded guilty to three counts of failing to file three years of federal income tax returns first term Omaha City Councilman Vinny Palermo, elected in 2017, has had little to say.
Palermo: This is an administrative matter, so I’ll refer any questions to my attorney Mr. Davis…I will not resign…
NCN: Are you sorry about all this?. (Palermo does not comment)
And this is not the first time Palermo has had to face the music for breaking the government’s rules. Two years ago the State of Nebraska’s campaign watchdogs fined Palermo $2,000. You see after he ran and won his race for the city council he was in effect accused of hiding key campaign expenses he had made during that race. Those campaign expenses totaled more than $12,000.
Of that $12,000, state records examined by News Channel Nebraska found that Palermo “failed to disclose” over $4,000 used for a variety of campaign related mailings.
What those records don’t tell you is that those campaign mailings came as Palermo was in a hotly contested council race. He defeated his main opponent, fellow Democrat Jim Rogers, in the primary by a mere 45 votes. That lead widened in the general election to 673 votes and a 53 to 46 Palermo win, all while he was failing to disclose those key expenditures.
NCN: Not reporting those expenditures, especially those tied to mailing campaign pieces, can that effect who wins and who loses?
Jack Gould, Common Cause NE: It can, it definitely can.
Government watchdog Jack Gould, who has been tracking Nebraska elections for more than three decades, is now questioning Palermo’s win.
Gould: We want full disclosure, everybody should know including the public as to what’s going on.
NCN: And if it’s not filed, if it’s not being disclosed then the opponent is in the dark I guess.
Gould: That’s right you’re in the dark, you don’t know what’s coming.
As we said the man Palermo beat back in 2017 was Jim Rogers, who is now the Executive Director of the Nebraska Democratic Party. Asked to comment on his fellow Democrat’s handling of that council race, Rogers had “no comment.”
As for Palermo’s settlement agreement with the State of Nebraska’s Accountability and Disclosure Commission, Palermo stated that “it was not his intention to violate Nebraska law as alleged.”
News Channel Nebraska has made repeated attempts to reach him for further comment but he has not responded. Similar to his lack of response regarding his conviction on those federal income tax related charges.
NCN: Do you think saying nothing is the answer?
(Palermo does not comment).
Sentencing is scheduled for next week.