State Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha speaks against LB 574 on the floor of the Legislature on Friday, May 19, 2023, in Lincoln, Neb. (Zach Wendling/Nebraska Examiner).
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with comments from David Begley.
LINCOLN — The Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission on Friday found no probable cause in an alleged conflict of interest violation filed against State Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha.
In an 8-0 vote, the commission found no probable cause to support an allegation that Hunt had a conflict of interest in the outcome of Legislative Bill 574, which, in part, imposed restrictions on gender-affirming care for minors.
David Begley, an Omaha-based attorney, filed the complaint March 24 alleging that Hunt and her son, who is transgender, had a financial stake in the bill’s outcome.
“I’m happy the NADC saw the complaint for the frivolous political attack it was,” Hunt told the Nebraska Examiner after the ruling. “What worries me is seeing (an) increase in these attacks on trans people in this country and the families who love them.”
Begley argued that “in order to fully transition, Senator Hunt’s child would need medical services.” However, Hunt and multiple doctors who provide gender-affirming services have said this is untrue and gender transitions do not require medical care.
If LB 574 were defeated, Begley said, Hunt and her son had a “slightly more than average chance” of receiving Medicaid coverage if they filed a lawsuit against the bill.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services in 1990 excluded Medicaid coverage for this care.
Frank Daley, the executive director of the commission, wrote in a synopsis of the case that conflicts of interest deal with a financial benefit for a state lawmaker or their immediate family. Such financial effect must be “reasonably foreseeable.”
“A financial effect is not considered reasonably foreseeable if it is remote, speculative, contingent or uncertain,” Daley wrote.
Begley told the Examiner Friday that just because a case is dismissed, that does not make it frivolous. People, he said, can “disagree” on reasonable foreseeability.
He stressed that Hunt has said she would do anything on the floor for her child and that, if true, she should file a lawsuit in federal court alleging LB 574 is contrary to the Affordable Care Act and the Fourteenth Amendment.
Hunt detailed on the floor during debate on LB 574 how the bill would harm her family.
“The point isn’t that I could gain financially if my kid has rights,” Hunt said in an April 26 floor speech announcing the complaint. “The point is the harassment.”
This was a month after the complaint when Hunt said Daley hand-delivered the complaint to her.
Multiple senators came to Hunt’s defense on the floor that day, including State Sen. Tom Brandt of Plymouth, who said, “It is so far out of bounds that it does not merit discussion.”
Nebraska lawmakers approved LB 574 on a 33-15 vote to prohibit transition surgeries before the age of 19, while authorizing the state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Timothy Tesmer, to impose rules and regulations covering puberty blockers and hormone therapies for minors. The bill, as amended, also imposed an approximately 10-week abortion ban.
He said Hunt could have filed a lawsuit before or after LB 574 passed. However, with the bill having passed, the damage is more “acute and clear now.”
“She makes this statement that she’ll do anything for her child,” Begley said. “Well, go to federal court, Senator Hunt, that’s my recommendation to you.”
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