LINCOLN — A government watchdog group has accused the head of Blueprint Nebraska, a panel of state business leaders promoting economic growth, of failing to register as a lobbyist.
Common Cause Nebraska filed its complaint with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission on Wednesday. The complaint names Jim Smith, a former state senator from Papillion who is now president of Blueprint Nebraska.
The complaint cites an email that Smith sent to Gov. Pete Ricketts’ chief of staff on Nov. 30. The email describes meetings he held with State Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn, the Revenue Committee chairwoman, about her plans for tax legislation.
Jack Gould, the issues chair for Common Cause, argued that meeting with lawmakers about legislation would constitute lobbying.
Smith responded that the complaint was “without merit” and that neither he nor Blueprint Nebraska has taken a position on pending tax bills. But he said he would cooperate with the commission’s investigation.
The email was one of a series between Ricketts’ office and Smith about Blueprint Nebraska’s work. The emails were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Documented, another public watchdog organization. Ricketts was a co-founder of Blueprint Nebraska.
Nebraska lawmakers sent a $9.7 billion, two-year state budget package to the Gov. Ricketts' desk as attention turned to the money left over.