State Treasurer’s Race: Show Me the Money—or Not

State Treasurer’s Race: Show Me the Money—or Not
John Murante and Taylor Royal

Omaha, NE.—When it comes to money you might think the two Republicans running for the job of Nebraska State Treasurer would be more than willing to talk about how and how much they’re spending on the race: You would be wrong.

Taylor Royal’s campaign account is a well kept—and apparently legal—secret, at least for now.

And a seldom-seen expense item on John Murante’s campaign account—”Opposition Research”—is met with total silence.

Let’s start with Taylor Royal:

News Channel Nebraska: Can you ballpark how much money your campaign has raised or spent at this point?

Royal: I think you’ll have to find out just like everyone else on that campaign report, Joe.

NCN: Is there a reason you don’t want to talk about how much money your campaign has raised and spent at this point?

Royal: There’s no reason. I’ve done everything in accordance with the (Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission).

NADC Executive Director Frank Daley says Royal is right. Despite some critics who have contacted NCN complaining that Royal has broken the rules (by not filing a campaign finance report at the end of 2017 or raising or spending $5,000) Daley says Royal is in the clear. Why? Because following his short-lived run for Omaha Mayor last year Royal simply changed his campaign copmmittee’s name instead of starting up a whole new committee. Royal’s first finance report is due April 14, according to the NADC website.

Royal’s GOP opponent in the May 15 primary is Gretna State Sen. John Murante and Murante’s campaign cash is part of the public record.  At the end of 2017 the 6-year-Gretna lawmaker reported $202,000 in his campaign bank account.

Murante, who has taken a leave of absence from his role as CEO of Omaha’s Big Fred’s Pizza, has received  $5,000 contributions from Gov. Pete Ricketts and the campaign account of former State Sen. Scott Laughtenbaugh, in addition to $1,250 from Omaha’s Mike Yanney.

Murante’s report also notes that he shelled out $2,605 last August for some opposition research (aka: political dirt). The money went to Victory Enterprises a Davenport, Iowa firm. By the way, according to the English Oxford Dictionary, opposition research is defined as the “Investigation into the dealings of political opponents, typically in order to discredit them publicly.

Murante Campaign Finance Report

News Channel Nebraska asked Murante’s campaign if it was seeking information that would be damaging to Royal’s campaign. So far no comment.

Told of the expense Royal told NCN: “Good for him. I will tell you that I spent zero dollars on opposition research.”

Last October during his campaign kick-off Royal told News Channel Nebraska that Murante is “not qualified” for the treasurer’s job. Murante  cried foul. “It is sad that my opponent chose to launch his campaign with negative personal attacks.”

It was just a year ago when Royal came out of political nowhere to launch an unexpected bid for the Mayor’s job in Omaha against incumbent Republican Jean Stothert and Democrat Heath Mello. Although he came up short and did not survive the primary he did make his share of headlines not the least of which found his father, Scott Royal, bankrolling his son’s campaign to the tune of $242,000. That was 94 percent of the younger Royal’s total campaign expenses.

Royal tells News Channel Nebraska that’s not the case this time around:

NCN: Has your father contributed any money to your Treasurer’s race and do you think he’s going to?

Royal: No he has not.

NCN: And do you think he’s going to?

Royal: We’ve been doing everything where that’s not going to be the case….My family helped out with an in-kind donation for just some promotional giveaways/handouts that we did…to get the word out. I think it was like three grand or something like that.

Royal, who endorsed Stothert after coming up short in the mayor’s primary, has Stothert’s endorsement this time around. He tells News Channel Nebraska the Mayor has been helpful, taking his phone calls when he needs advice and introducing him to people at Omaha’s Lenten fish fries.

Murante has spent the current legislative session pushing for higher speed limits across the state, despite the opposition of several highway safety groups. He has also been a leading voice for those out to stop vote fraud in Nebraska, although according to a series of exclusive reports in 2017, News Channel Nebraska found that according to the state’s own numbers cheating at the ballot box is extremely rare in Nebraska.

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Joe Can Be Heard:

Wednesday: Fairbury 8:00am KUTT 99.5-FM

Thursday: Norfolk 8:10am US92-FM, 8:28 KNEN-AM 94.7, Nebraska City 8:55am KBIE 103.1-FM

Friday:  Beatrice 8:10am KWBE 1450-AM, Broken Bow “Breakfast Show” KCNI 1280-AM/KBBM 95.3-FM, Lincoln 7:10am KLIN 1400-AM