OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Democratic Party filed an ethics complaint Tuesday against Republican U.S. Senate candidate Deb Fischer, accusing her of not disclosing a conflict over a piece of land that was later involved in a bill she introduced.
Fischer and her husband unsuccessfully sued their elderly neighbors, Les and Betty Kime, in 1995, claiming ownership of a parcel of land along the Snake River. The Fischers had used the land — free of charge and with permission from the Kimes — for years to water their cattle. Based on that and their assertion that they had managed the parcel of land, the Fischers claimed "adverse possession," a legal term akin to squatter's rights.
In its complaint filed Tuesday with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, the Nebraska Democratic Party repeated claims it made last week that a bill by Fischer in 2011 hampered the sale of that land to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
Fischer's campaign has called the conflict charge "outrageous," noting that her legal battle over the land was long over by the time the bill was introduced.
The 2011 bill proposed taking money from the Nebraska Environmental Trust to go to a state water resources fund. Because the trust had planned to provide the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission with a grant to help buy the Snake Falls Ranch — which included the Kimes' land the Fischers had sought — Game and Parks withdrew its proposal to buy the land.
"With Nebraska facing one of the worst droughts in recent memory, it's shameful that the Democrats would attack Deb Fischer for successfully passing a bipartisan water conservation bill that helps fund the Platte River Recovery Program and protects the environment," Fischer campaign spokesman Daniel Keylin said Tuesday.
Keylin alleged Democrats were "resorting to blatantly frivolous accusations and outrageous character smears."
The state Democratic Party maintains Fischer had a duty to inform the public, her constituents and fellow state senators about her legal wrangling over the land when she introduced the bill.
"Her failure to do so shows an inability to tell the difference between her own self-interest and that of the larger community," said Patricia Zieg, Democratic national committeewoman.