LINCOLN — Gov. Dave Heineman and Attorney General Jon Bruning mistakenly accepted $2,500 each in campaign contributions from a Canadian company seeking to build a crude-oil pipeline across Nebraska.
Taking contributions from foreigners or foreign corporations such as TransCanada Inc. violates federal campaign finance laws.
Frank Daley, executive director of the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, said Tuesday that an auditor in his office recently noticed the contributions from TransCanada, which has a satellite office in Omaha but is based in Calgary, Alberta.
He said he alerted the campaigns about the issue last week and said both have since refunded the contributions. The state, Daley said, has no laws banning such donations, so his office would not take additional action.
Julie Queen, a spokeswoman with the Federal Election Commission, said if someone filed a complaint about the donations, her office would investigate.
TransCanada is seeking federal approval to build a crude-oil pipeline from the tar sands region of western Canada to oil refineries on the Gulf Coast. The company says it will bring a reliable flow of oil to the United State from a friendly nation.
Environmentalists have criticized the project as unnecessary and as a threat to drinking water drawn from the Ogallala Aquifer and to boreal forests of Canada.
A spokesman for Heineman's campaign did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
Holley Bolen a spokeswoman for the Bruning campaign said that they were unaware that the federal rule applied to state political campaigns. Out of an "abundance of caution," she said the campaign decided to return the money
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