Jetsetting Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts appears to have failed on his promise of a transparent administration, with his office telling Watchdog this week that it has “no idea” how much all of his travels have cost the state. This comes on the back of the Nebraska State Patrol refusing to say how much overtime has been paid out to officers protecting the governor, although it would admit that the overtime budget was exceeded by $400,000 for the fiscal year ending in June. The overtime total was $2.45 million, the highest in five years.
Ricketts’ out of state travels have included two overseas trade missions so far this year, and Watchdog was following up on a tip which said these trips and the need for state patrol officers to accompany the governor were resulting in ballooning costs. But Watchdog hit a brick wall when it tried to get concrete information and has had to turn to lawyers to attempt to pressure Ricketts’ office into explaining just what it is spending the public’s money on.. As the site says, “Reporters — and citizens — shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer just to get basic information from its government.” It seems that Rickett was all about transparency on the campaign trail when it was just a pithy soundbite, but when it comes to putting it into action he’s yet another politician who is all talk.
Ricketts’ overseas trade missions arguably bringing an economic benefit to the state, so there is an argument to be made for them being worth every penny of the overtime they incur. But if this is the case then why doesn’t his office come out with a clear, cost benefit analysis to reflect this rather than hiding behind obfuscation?
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