Treasurer Resigning

Nebraska Treasurer Lorelee Byrd will leave office January 6th. That word came Tuesday afternoon from Attorney General Jon Bruning.

Byrd is facing a misdemeanor charge in the aftermath of an investigation that focused on financial improprieties in the treasurer's office.

She allegedly wrote $300,000 worth of checks in February and kept them in a vault before voiding them in June, right after the Legislature ended its budget-cutting session.

It is against state law to knowingly write checks without having a purchase order, contract or bill to be paid.

The attorney general was prepared to file 13 charges against Byrd. He dropped 12 in exchange for a guilty plea to a single charge but the treasurer was still determined to remain in office.

A week ago, a defiant Lorelee Byrd said she intended to hold her ground, despite the governor's request for her to step down.

Later in the week she said she'd consider stepping down and then on Tuesday, Attorney General Jon Bruning announced that Byrd would be leaving office, January 6th.

Bruning said, "We're grateful the state treasurer has agreed to end this problem."

Bruning said that Byrd's decision came after her attorneys spent two days trying to strike a deal for the treasurer in which the sole charge against her would be dropped in exchange for her resignation.

The attorney general turned it down.

He said, "Her resignation at that point would have been no different than a constitutional officer resigning to take a job outside the state government. I thought that was an inaccurate way to portray what has happened over the last year."

Bruning did agree to move Byrd's sentencing date up a month to December 23rd.

Her resignation ends the possibility of a lengthy impeachment process.

Governor Mike Johanns was somewhat surprised to hear of the resignation, saying he didn't expect it for at least another week. He says he hopes to have a replacement in office by January sixth.

Johanns said, "I do appreciate the decision that's been made by the treasurer."

As for the January departure date, Byrd wrote a letter to the governor stating that she wants to provide a smooth transition.

She wrote, "We remain committed to providing the highest level of service possible to the taxpayers during the transition."

Johanns will now begin the search for her replacement.

He says, "I don't want to limit anybody, but to me, today, there does not seem to be an heir apparent in the office."


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