Author

Paul Hammel

Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation, a member of the Nebraska Hop Growers and a volunteer caretaker of Irvingdale Park in Lincoln.

Medical marijuana petition drive makes urgent pitch for donors, volunteers

By: - March 24, 2022

An initiative petition drive seeking to legalize medical cannabis in Nebraska has issued an urgent plea for donations and volunteers after reportedly losing a major contributor. In an email to supporters on Wednesday, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana said that due to “personal and tragic circumstances,” a “committed donor” is no longer able to fund its […]

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Fortenberry defense presents case that congressman was unaware of illegal gifts

By: - March 23, 2022

Editor’s note: This report was updated at 8 p.m. CDT Wednesday. LOS ANGELES — The defense of U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry against charges that he lied to federal investigators picked up Wednesday with his defense seeking to bolster its contention that the congressman was “set up” and misled. Former U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, who was […]

Chambers says the ‘worm has turned’ in verse to political adversary Fortenberry

By: - March 23, 2022

LOS ANGELES — Former State Sen. Ernie Chambers has been out of office for two years, but he couldn’t resist a recent chance to get in a dig against a former political adversary.  Chambers, now 84, sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, just prior to last week’s start of the congressman’s trial for […]

Timeline of events leading up to U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s criminal case

By: - March 21, 2022

LOS ANGELES — U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., is on trial in federal court on three felony counts, which involve allegations that he lied to federal agents and “schemed” to conceal illegal campaign contributions. Here is a timeline of events in the case: 2014 — In Defense of Christians, a Washington, D.C., group is formed […]

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Host of L.A. fundraiser says Fortenberry ‘heard and understood’ that the funds raised were illegal

By: - March 21, 2022

Editor’s note: This report was updated about 8:30 p.m. CDT. LOS ANGELES — The host of a now-infamous 2016 Los Angeles fundraiser in which U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry was given $30,000 in illegal, “conduit” political donations testified Monday that the congressman clearly got the message later that the contributions were illegal. “He heard and understood,” said […]

Environmental, farm groups seek update of 2014 state climate impact study

By: - March 21, 2022

LINCOLN — It’s been eight years since the state last produced a report on climate change, a report that predicted adverse effects ahead for the state’s largest industry, agriculture. Several environmental groups, as well as the state climatologist and one farm group, are now calling on state legislators to update the 2014 “Understanding and Assessing […]

Direct refunds of $200 to each Nebraskan described as a better way to handle glut of state funds

By: - March 18, 2022

LINCOLN — If the state needs to return a glut of extra tax revenue to Nebraskans, State Sen. John Cavanaugh of Omaha says a simpler and more conservative approach would be direct payments of $200 to each resident. Cavanaugh has introduced an amendment to a major income tax bill that would distribute prepaid debit cards […]

Fortenberry jurors hear testimony fit for a Hollywood feature film

By: - March 18, 2022

Editor’s note: This report was updated about 6:30 p.m. LOS ANGELES — In a courtroom only a few miles from Hollywood, jurors heard testimony Friday fitting for a feature film. A Lebanese-American said he delivered $30,000 in cash in an envelope to a Los Angeles physician, with the intent that the money be contributed, through several […]

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Fortenberry attorney says the congressman didn’t recall or understand key warning call

By: - March 17, 2022

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 8:15 p.m. LOS ANGELES — An FBI agent leading the investigation into illegal, “straw man” political contributions funneled to U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry testified Thursday that the congressman was informed at least four times during a 2018 phone call that the donations were problematic. Special FBI Agent Todd […]

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Potential jurors in the trial of U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry undergo extensive questioning

By: - March 16, 2022

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.  LOS ANGELES — Jurors underwent an extensive interrogation about their political biases during jury selection Wednesday in the federal trial of U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry.  A jury of eight women and four men was ultimately selected, but only after several jurors were dismissed for admitting to […]

Additional property tax relief may become part of compromise on income tax bill

By: - March 16, 2022

LINCOLN — Additional property tax relief may be working its way into a bill designed to reduce state income taxes. The development comes after the income tax proposal, Legislative Bill 939, advanced from first-round debate but only after the prime sponsor of the bill, State Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, promised to amend the bill before […]