Different special prosecutor appointed in alleged Nebraska GOP break-in

First appointee got new job as defense attorney with state agency

By: - November 6, 2023 5:00 am

The Nebraska Republican Party headquarters in downtown Lincoln on Oct. 31, 2023. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner)

LINCOLN — A new special prosecutor is reviewing the police probe into an alleged break-in during the 2022 transition between the old and new leadership teams at the Nebraska Republican Party.

Lincoln lawyer Ryan Swaroff, a former prosecutor in Lancaster County and formerly with the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, was tapped to replace Special Prosecutor Tim Noerrlinger.

Noerrlinger, a registered Republican, filed a court form seeking his replacement in the GOP probe. On Oct. 8, Lancaster County District Judge Andrew Jacobsen appointed Swaroff, a Democrat.

A new job

The change was sought because Noerrlinger was hired on Oct. 2 as a staff attorney for the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, essentially the state’s public defender’s office. 

Attorneys hired for new jobs or roles often must hand off some of their former cases to other lawyers, said Todd Lancaster, the commission’s chief counsel, who said he hired Noerrlinger.

Nebraska Republican Party Chairman Eric Underwood speaks to the State Central Committee’s meeting on Jan. 21, in Omaha. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

Noerrlinger has declined to discuss the progress of his review of the police investigation in the months since Lancaster County Attorney Pat Condon sought outside help in February.

State law lets county attorneys do so when the potential exists for conflicts of interest. Condon did not immediately return messages Friday seeking comment.

Swaroff did not return messages left at her office, either. Her Rembolt Ludtke law firm’s website said she works in family law, including divorce, custody and adoption cases.

No comment from GOP

Nebraska GOP officials had no immediate comment on the new special prosecutor Friday. A spokeswoman said they wanted to share information first with state central committee members.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts addresses the Nebraska Republican Party convention in Kearney, Neb., in July 2022. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

The new state GOP filed a police report in the summer of 2022 alleging a July 9-10 loss of about $1,000 in property and data from the downtown Lincoln headquarters of the state party.

Items listed as missing included security cameras and physical and digital files. The new team feared sabotage. Many people tied to the old regime resigned, quit or were replaced. 

In August, Lincoln police determined that no crime was committed during the incident, which happened shortly after a new group took over the GOP from one tied to former Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Crime or not?

Private investigator Tom Nesbitt said during a state GOP meeting this year he disagreed with the Lincoln police investigator’s determination and said he had gathered and shared evidence.

Former Nebraska State Patrol Col. Tom Nesbitt speaks to members of the Nebraska Republican Party’s State Central Committee Jan. 21, in Omaha. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

Nesbitt alleged that not all of the missing data and files were returned. He and Nebraska GOP chairman Eric Underwood described difficulties accessing computer data and security footage. 

People tied to the former GOP leadership team had said they kept items owned by campaigns, including the personal financial information of some campaign donors.

Now a new special prosecutor is trying to figure out what happened. The new prosecutor’s law firm bio says she previously prosecuted white-collar cases and corruption.




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Aaron Sanderford
Aaron Sanderford

Political reporter Aaron Sanderford has tackled various news roles in his 20-plus year career. He has reported on politics, crime, courts, government and business for the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal-Star. He also worked as an assignment editor and editorial writer. He was an investigative reporter at KMTV.