Ricketts Plays Dumb About Ties With Fringe Conspiracy-Pushing Group Fighting Biden Conservation Efforts
Daily Beast: “When Ricketts began his tour against the [30 by 30] policy, the anti-corruption watchdog group Accountable.US accused him of “parroting talking points from the conspiracy-pushing fringe group American Stewards of Liberty.”
Washington, D.C. — Despite the fact that Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts is touring the state in a series of town halls, misinforming the public about President Biden’s 30 by 30 land conservation policy in collaboration with the conspiracy-pushing fringe group American Stewards of Liberty (ASoL), the Daily Beast reports he is attempting to distance himself from the organization. When asked for comment, Ricketts’ office requested “more information” on ASoL even though the governor is closely tied to the group, has parroted its rhetoric, and even used the group’s graphics during his town halls.
“It is laughable to see Governor Ricketts playing dumb about his relationship with this fringe conspiracy-pushing group when it seems obvious there is close collaboration behind closed doors,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “From parroting their talking points and using their PowerPoint slides at his events, to being coached by the group’s executive director to oppose Biden’s climate agenda, to appearing as a guest on their spokesperson’s podcast, the Governor can spare the public the “who, me?” routine.”
Ahead of signing on to a letter to President Biden opposing the 30 by 30 land conservation plan — a policy that would conserve 30 percent of America’s public lands by 2030 — Ricketts met with ASoL Executive Director Margaret Byfield where they discussed ways to oppose the policy. He confirmed this story when he was a guest on ASoL spokesperson Trent Loos’ podcast. At a recent town hall, Ricketts parroted the group’s talking points in a presentation that used some of the same sources, numbers, and even PowerPoint slides as those used by ASoL.
By spending a substantial amount of time and money lobbying government officials to oppose President Biden’s 30 by 30 plan, ASoL appears to be violating IRS rules for tax-exempt nonprofits. While Loos denies any wrong-doing, claiming to be aware of “zero in-house lobbying with actual legislators,” the IRS deems collaboration on legislation with county commissioners and other state legislators as lobbying. Accountable.US filed a complaint with the IRS against ASoL for pressuring local officials in multiple states to pass legislation opposing the 30 by 30 plan, a direct violation of its tax-exempt status.
Read more from the Daily Beast below:
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is on a statewide speaking tour to denounce what he and some far-right allies are portraying as an outrageous intrusion by the Biden administration: a conservation program that he says will seize lands from local control.
There’s one problem: The program proposes nothing of the sort, and its chief opponents are not local at all. They include a Texas-based organization whose most vocal associates—including one who met with Ricketts—have likened conservation programs to Nazi and Soviet atrocities.