Ethics complaint filed against Nebraska State Sen. Megan Hunt

State Sen. Megan Hunt says she is being formally investigated after a complaint was filed against her.
Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 10:28 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - State Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha said she is being formally investigated for a potential conflict of interest on LB574 because she has a trans child.

The complaint, recently filed with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission by David Begley, whom Hunt said was “a ‘well-known’ attorney in Omaha,” alleges that her family — her minor child specifically — would benefit from expanding Medicaid coverage to trans care, causing her to vote against the bill, which puts limits on it.

Hunt said the complaint, which she read on the floor of the Legislature, was hand-delivered to her on Wednesday by the commission.

“...Sen. Hunt and her minor child have a slightly more than average of obtaining medical coverage for the child’s gender transition medical services via a lawsuit if LB574 does not become law. If LB574 does not become law, then Sen. Hunt’s immediate family member could receive a financial benefit with Medicaid paying for the medical services necessary to transition genders.

Sen. Hunt has the burden of proving that she is exempt from the provisions of Nebraska Statute 49-1499 because LB547 would apply to ‘a broad segment of the public.’”

Excerpt from complaint filed against State Sen. Megan Hunt

Begley is listed with the Nebraska State Bar as an elder law and estate planning lawyer “in good standing” who is based in Omaha.

His complaint made reference to several comments Hunt made while giving comments during Legislative sessions, specifically on Jan. 17 and March 22, and notes her vote of “no” on LB574 on March 23.

“This, colleagues, is not serious. This is harassment,” she said of the complaint. “This is using the legal system that we have in our state to stop corruption, to increase transparency, to hold govt account, and using it to harass a member of the Legislature who you all know is trying to do the right thing; is trying to parent her child in a way that keeps that child alive, in a way that keeps that child successful in school, and with friends, and healthy — and in a way that potentially that child would have a future in this state as well.”

Hunt also specifically took issue with the statement in the complaint about comments that her minor child would need surgical services in order to fully transition.

“That’s editorializing, by the way. I did not say that,” she said Wednesday.

While not naming any senators in her statement — “because when I call you out, it hurts your feelings” — Hunt said that LB574 has prompted harassment of her and other opponents because of “the freshman senator who was appointed who’s got in her head that she’s gotta get her way on this one thing.”

State Sen. Kathleen Kauth of Omaha, who authored the “Let Them Grow Act,” was appointed by then-Gov. Pete Ricketts following the death of State Sen. Rich Pahls in April 2022, months after the former Omaha City Councilman was elected to the seat.

The Nebraska Examiner reported that other senators spoke out in support of Hunt on the floor Wednesday, with State Sen. Wendy DeBoer of Bennington noting that most senators have conflicts that aren’t specifically identified because they bring real-world experiences to the Unicameral.

Hunt called on her colleagues for more collegiality as she considers reaching out to them again about LB547, though she admitted that she personally finds it “physically painful” to talk with some of them.

“It’s really time for reasonable Republicans in this state to stand up against some of these policies — stand up for the health and well-being of all Nebraskans — against these bills that are discriminatory and counterproductive,” she said. “They’re undermining the state’s ability to attract and retain talent; and they’re encouraging harassment — of Nebraskans of our neighbors, of our kids, of our citizens and of your colleagues.”

Hunt’s comments came the same day the Omaha Chamber of Commerce issued a statement calling on the Nebraska Legislature to “focus their work on being part of the long-term solution on the policy matters of the highest importance to Nebraskans. ... The best of Nebraska is not demonstrated by divisive ongoing political fighting on a national stage.”

Omaha Chamber of Commerce statement

“As the lead economic development organization for the region, the Greater Omaha Chamber is on the front line of ensuring our community can recruit and retain a talented workforce. For these reasons, the policy areas of workforce development and ensuring Nebraska is a welcoming place have joined the long-standing policy pillars of maintaining a tax policy and necessary economic tools to make Nebraska competitive. This is consistent with the recommendations from Blueprint Nebraska that inclusivity is the right thing to do. It is suitable for business and good for Nebraska.

While, as a chamber, we are not equipped to weigh in on issues that involve personal medical care decisions or medical decisions regarding parents, their children, and their healthcare professionals, we are prepared to speak up and remain fully committed to the ongoing importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion as an essential element of workforce development and community placemaking. We ask our elected officials to focus their work on being part of the long-term solution on the policy matters of the highest importance to Nebraskans and position our state as the best that it can be, particularly on issues that work against and threaten Nebraska as the warm and welcoming state we know it to be.

The best of Nebraska is not demonstrated by divisive ongoing political fighting on a national stage. The best of Nebraska is demonstrated by a healthy discussion where all voices are heard and which strives toward a consensus decision to move us forward. We all want our state to remain a great place that is supportive and inclusive, with a focus on creating the best environment to do business and live. And we want the entire country to know that Nebraska is, in fact, for everyone.”

Omaha Chamber of Commerce

Watch Sen. Hunt’s comments

Unicameral advances bill to ban gender-affirming care for youth

The bill, known as the “Let Them Grow Act,” survived a 33-16 cloture vote before it passed General File 30-17 with two state senators voting “present, not voting.”

LB574 has passed the first round of voting in Lincoln.
Omaha LGBTQ+ faith community reacts to advancement of transgender youth bills

Local reverends say they’re concerned about transgender youth legislation in both Iowa and Nebraska.

Faith leaders in the LGBTQ+ community are worried about the future if LB574 further advances.