WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has announced a series of town halls aimed at opposing and misinforming the public about President Biden’s proposed 30 by 30 land conservation policy. In response to news that Ricketts is parroting talking points from the conspiracy-pushing fringe group American Stewards of Liberty at the events, government watchdog Accountable.US released the following statement:

“The uptick in misinformation around the Biden administration’s bold environment and land conservation policies is no accident: conspiracy-pushing fringe groups like American Stewards of Liberty are on a mission to poison the public’s perception, and public officials like Ricketts are parroting these conspiracy theories to their constituents,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “The only thing that’s ‘radical’ about this proposal is the continued shilling for special interests by politicians and groups looking to further their bottom line at the expense of taxpayers and our public lands.”

American Stewards of Liberty has a history of promoting wild conspiracy theories, including denying climate change and suggesting the United Nations wants to eliminate private property rights. The group’s spokesperson, Trent Loos, publicly compared the 30 by 30 policy to Hitler, warning “history does repeat itself.” The group’s executive director, Margaret Byfield, went further, agreeing to a comment that compared the plan to Stalin’s genocide of the Ukranian people. The group has been supported by at least $120,000 from the Koch-backed dark money network. It has also worked directly with the oil and gas industry to oppose protections for public lands and wildlife. 

Governor Ricketts is the latest public official to be connected to American Stewards of Liberty, but he’s not alone. Senator John Thune (R-SD) sent staff to attend an event opposing the 30 by 30 policy hosted by the organization, where the staff member later ensured the senator was against the policy  “with 100 percent of his being.” State Representative Julie Frye-Mueller made her support public for American Stewards of Liberty in an op-ed that praised the organization for one of its events attacking the 30 by 30 policy. 

Accountable.US filed a complaint with the IRS against the organization for its role in pressuring local officials in multiple states to pass legislation opposing the 30 by 30 plan, a direct violation to its tax-exempt status.

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