Giving Senator A Lift Costly For Company

Channel Six News has obtained a copy of a lawsuit filed by MidAmerican Energy against Nebraska's Tax Commissioner and the State with $1.1 million at stake.

A well known Nebraska law called LB 775 allowed MidAmerican Energy to apply for a sales tax refund of $1.1 million dollars on an airplane the company purchased in 2004.

Nebraska Tax Commissioner Doug Ewald grounded the claim based on an obscure section of the law.

The airplane can't be used to transport an elected official.

On November 28th 2006, Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson took a one way trip on the plane from Georgia to Omaha. Nelson's campaign committee reimbursed MidAmerican Energy $475.

A lawsuit filed by MidAmerican Energy in Lancaster County District Court asks that a judge review and overturn the decision of the State Tax Commissioner to withhold the $1.1 million.

MidAmerican argues the single flight involved "incidental use".

The Tax Commissioner's legal answer stated the Legislature was concerned about giving tax benefits to aircraft used in the political and electoral process.

LB 775 provides significant tax breaks to companies that invested in Nebraska.

MidAmerican Energy is an Iowa Corporation but the lawsuit claims the company made sufficient investments and hired the appropriate number of new employees in Nebraska to qualify for the $1.1 million sales tax refund on the company airplane.

A spokesperson for MidAmerican told Channel Six reporter Mike McKnight that the company doesn't comment on pending litigation.

Nebraska Tax Commissioner Doug Ewald also declined comment.

Channel Six News informed Senator Nelson's press aide Jake Thompson of the lawsuit centering on the Senator's one way flight. The aide said he would make the Senator aware of the legal dogfight over the $1.1 million sales tax refund for purchase of the airplane by MidAmerican Energy.

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