Monday, August 29, 2011

The More Things Change...

When someone goes on vacation, or even moves to another place, there often seems to be some kind of strange mental hangover that one experiences. It's an illogical kind of mental disconnect that says, "Even though I know the rest of the world continues when I'm not there, upon my return, things should be exactly how and where I saw them last."

It's a process we've all been through as we've travelled this past week, and it's one we're certain you've also likely experienced in your life.

Of course, things do keep moving on in other corners of the world, even while we're away. The Gadhafi regime fell last week (though Gadhafi himself is still on the loose), and the Washington Monument did not (contrary to rumors reported through certain less-than-accurate media outlets). Hurricane Irene swamped the East Coast, and her effects could last for weeks. There was even an earthquake in Washington, DC - ironically centered in the congressional district of Rep. Eric Cantor, who earlier this year said we didn't need to fully fund the U.S. Geological Survey, as there are places in the U.S. that don't have earthquakes. Like the District of Columbia.

Sadly, even while we were away, certain politicians couldn't stop digging themselves deeper political holes - including Nebraska's Attorney General, Jon Bruning.

Bruning, the Republican front-runner likely to challenge Sen. Ben Nelson for Nebraska's U.S. Senate seat in 2012 had a particularly lousy time of it last week, all self-induced.

First, it was revealed that Mr. Bruning, often one to brag about his small town, Cornhusker work ethic, has apparently been making himself a multi-millionaire while Nebraskans pay him $95,000 a year to be the top law enforcement official in the state. It's alleged that he's only a part-time Attorney-General on full pay, while enthusiastically pursuing his personal business interests. It was also revealed that Bruning is anything but fiscally responsible, as his campaign is heavily in debt.

His questionable behavior doesn't end there.

Four years ago, student loan company Nelnet reached a million dollar legal settlement with Attorney-General Bruning and the state of Nebraska over improper and questionably legal conduct. Bruning, however, relieved Nelnet of its obligation to pay a penalty, since Nelnet made a similar deal with the state of New York. Bruning stopped defending that decision later, after being accused of favoritism toward Nelnet.

This past week, it was discovered that Bruning and two top Nelnet executives purchased a $675,000 lake house together just a year after the earlier controversy had blown over.

We've warned Mr. Bruning on these pages more than once, that the story his actions have been stringing together has not been a tale likely to convince voters of his fitness to be a U.S. Senator.

We had thought that when we left for a week of vacation, since the President was on a working vacation, and Congress was in recess (and getting yelled at back home), the Supreme Court was on break, and the astroturf groups took this August off from disrupting Americans, there wouldn't likely be any political news for us to miss covering. Apparently, we were wrong.

Maybe Mr. Bruning had a feeling similar to what we experienced on our respective vacations - a feeling that if no one said anything, maybe his somewhat smelly actions wouldn't be noticed. Just as we described before, it's as though he thought if he left his actions alone, nothing would change and his image would remain relatively clean.

We hate to tell you, Mr. Attorney General, but not even elected officials are immune to the effects of time. Things change, even when you're not around.

This time, that includes your reputation.

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