Note: (sic) throughout.
A pitch to buy soil from landowners in the path of a proposed dam actually was a ruse to ensnare officials at the local natural resources district, an embattled board member now claims.
Scott Japp, a member of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District board and candidate for the District 16 seat in the Legislature, says he never actually sent the letter to "Bara Hayes" that triggered an ongoing ethics investigation.
A landowner named Barbara Hayes, who had three parcels in the project footprint for Dam Site 15A in northwest Omaha, brought the letter to the district's attention, according to NRD emails.
But in a complaint to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, Japp claims he never sent the letter, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by The World-Herald.
"To my knowledge this person does not exist," he wrote. "I made a fatuous name and place this document in a conspectus place to expose the corruption of the PMNRD organization and others. ... No land owner names Bara Hayes is indicated as a land owner on any public document."
Japp's complaint alleges that eight fellow board members used public resources to pursue a private vendetta when they voted to file a complaint against him regarding the Hayes letter.
In his initial response to the board's complaint and since, Japp has sought to distance himself from Canudigit LLC, the company purportedly interested in the soil rights. His lawyer, K.C. Engdahl, is the registered agent.
Japp's accountability complaint was dismissed last week for "failure to state a cause of action," according to a letter from the commission made public by board member John Conley.
"This is just another attempt by Scott Japp to harrass the management and directors of the NRD," Conley said in an email. "He continues to waste not only NRD staff time, but also wastes staff time of the NADC."
The board's complaint, on the other hand, remains active. Japp and Engdahl have declined to answer the commission's subpoenas, and state lawyers are asking a Lancaster County judge to compel their cooperation.
Attorneys for the NRD also have attempted to subpoena documents in a separate action brought against Japp in Douglas County. Japp had been scheduled to sit for a deposition today, but last week Engdahl said his client would not appear and called the NRD's attempts at discovery a "harassing undertaking."