‘A smear campaign’: Herbster again denies accusations of sexual misconduct

Nebraska Republican gubernatorial candidate hints at legal action
WOWT Live at 10
Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 3:40 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Charles Herbster, a Republican candidate for Nebraska governor, said during a news conference Wednesday that allegations of sexual misconduct made against him last week were nothing more than “a smear campaign.”

“I respect all women, all females,” he said.

Speaking via Zoom from his condo in Omaha, Herbster said he’s taking legal actions regarding the allegations made last week, and that the matter had been turned over to a law firm used by former President Trump.

“(The allegations are) 100% false. And if they were not, I assure you I wouldn’t have a legal team involved,” he said. “...I have taken the route of attorneys to protect my name and reputation including giving Gov. Ricketts a litigation hold; plus, obviously, Julie Slama, Jim Pillen, and many others here in the state of Nebraska.”

Herbster said he was “shocked and surprised at the accusations,” noting that he has worked with women to establish businesses in most of the 50 states, and in some cases, those women run a portion of the business.

“I certainly didn’t know there were any problems,” he said.

Herbster repeated multiple times on the call that the allegations, first reported by the Nebraska Examiner, made by State Sen. Julie Slama and seven other unidentified women were a liberal D.C. political stunt brought home to Nebraska.

“It’s obvious to me that it’s out of the Democratic playbook, but in Nebraska, we’re using it on the Republican side,” he said, referencing similar allegations made about Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.

Herbster mentioned Ricketts and Pillen multiple times during the conference call as targeting his campaign, but not specifically connecting them to any sort of conspiracy.

WOWT 6 News Live at 6:30

6 News asked whether Herbster believed there was a meeting with Ricketts and other Nebraska Republicans to formulate a plan involving the sexual misconduct allegations. The candidate repeated his statements about “the playbook,” saying that accusers were coming forward because he was the front runner.

6 News was not permitted a follow-up question on the Zoom call.

Herbster said he was “shocked and surprised” at the allegations from Slama in particular, addressing his attendance at her destination wedding, which happened after the alleged sexual misconduct involving the state senator. He said he had RSVP’d for himself and a guest and was never told not to come.

“I just have to question — those don’t seem to be the actions of someone who has done something very, very wrong to them,” Herbster said.

With less than three weeks until the state’s primary election, Herbster said he was thankful Trump would be in Nebraska next week. Herbster is scheduled to be a featured speaker at Trump’s rally Friday night at the I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, a small town situated between Omaha and Lincoln. Donald Trump Jr. has also recently campaigned for Herbster, accompanying him on a three-city tour in central and western Nebraska last week.

Herbster said he was feeling confident about his run for governor and the upcoming primary, and that he wasn’t going to just let the accusations go.

“I feel like we will win this. But win or lose, I’m not going to let my name be ruined in the business world and in the religious world,” he said.

He said he wants to change the image of Nebraska as a state that’s “not for everyone” to “Nebraska: Open For Business 24/7” with a focus on business development.

Nebraska’s primary election is Tuesday, May 10.

When asked for Slama’s response to Herbster’s latest comments, a spokesperson for the state senator referred 6 News to statements she made to local media last Thursday when the story broke.

6 News political reporter Brian Mastre, reporter Marlo Lundak, and executive producer Nate Nakama contributed to this story.

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