District Attorney Requests Special Counsel for Nebraska GOP Hacking Case
LINCOLN, Nebraska (Nebraska Examiner) — Lancaster County Attorney Pat Condon filed papers Friday asking a special prosecutor to review the performance of the Lincoln Police Department in connection with an alleged break-in at Nebraska GOP headquarters last summer.
Condon, a Republican prosecutor backed by both the state’s new and old GOP leadership, asked the judge to appoint a third-party prosecutor under a state law that allows district attorneys to do so when there’s a potential conflict of interest.
On Friday, Condon declined to discuss why he made the request, saying he wants to ensure “public trust and integrity in all aspects of the criminal justice system.”
Earlier this week Lincoln police sergeant. Chris Vollmer confirmed that the LPD asked Condon to find a special prosecutor. Insiders said the agency was confident that the special counsel would come to the same conclusion as they did.
In August, Lincoln police determined that no crime had been committed during the July 9-10 incident, hours after new populist leaders took power in the state’s dominant political party from a group more closely associated with former Gov. Pete Ricketts. now a US Senator.
But the new party leaders and their supporters continued to press for more information about what happened at the state party’s headquarters immediately after the change in leadership, when CCTV cameras, as well as physical and digital files, temporarily disappeared from the offices.
The party paid Tom Nesbitt, a private investigator and former colonel in the Nebraska State Patrol, more than $9,000 to investigate the incident. He told the Republican Party that he believes the police made the wrong decision. His firm, Nesbitt Investigations, worked with the state Republican Party to pressure the Lincoln police to release the final police reports on the matter.
GOP lawyer Paul Kratz requested a subpoena for police reports, but then asked that the request be withdrawn because a special prosecutor was wanted. Such recordings will not be made public during an active law enforcement investigation.
Last summer, the state Republican Party filed a report with the police about the loss of about $1,000 of property and data. Most of the missing cameras and items have been returned. People connected to the former team said they were holding items belonging to the campaigns, including the personal financial information of some of the campaign’s donors.
Last month, Nesbitt told the GOP state committee that the new GOP leadership was unable to access the party’s surveillance footage without a password and that he had to recover 200 gigabytes of emails deleted by someone associated with the old GOP regime.
One key question the special prosecutor will investigate is whether anyone involved in the alleged incident was still employed by the state Republican Party or whether they had legal access to the headquarters and property upon access. If so, it becomes much more difficult to state that a crime took place.
The police did not publicly name who was at the headquarters at the time.
The Lancaster County District Court Judge will select the prosecutor.
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