A day before the riot at the Capitol, robocalls were sent from the Republican Attorneys General Association, urging them to march on the Capitol to “stop the steal” and “continue to fight to protect the integrity of our election.” Today (1.10.21) I filed a public records request to see to what extent public funds have supported Attorney General Doug Peterson’s membership of RAGA, including any impact those funds may have had in organizing support for the Capitol riot.
We need accountability for how these funds were used and for who is responsible. Those behind this dangerous attack an attack on the Capitol that left 5 people dead and directly targeted our elected representatives need to be condemned and punished. Every public official should agree: To let this insurrection pass without a full investigation would set a dangerous precedent for the future of our democracy.
Below is a copy of the request I sent to Attorney General Doug Peterson:
This is a request under Nebraska public records law.
Of course you are aware of the horrible events of January 6, 2021 in Washington D.C when hundreds of supporters of outgoing-President Donald J. Trump invaded the Capitol building. Using social media and news outlets favorable to him, President Trump and others summoned and encouraged supporters to travel to Washington D.C. for a “MAGA Rally” to coincide with the ceremonial electoral vote counting and certification process that Congress was performing on that same day. Shortly before the invasion of the Capitol, President Trump addressed the crowds of people who had assembled and told them that “[I]f you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore” and he urged them to move to the Capitol. After being so encouraged, President Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol and caused significant property damage to the offices and the building, stole or defaced personal and public property, and created circumstances that resulted in the deaths of five people, including a Capitol police officer who was attempting to defend the Capitol and those who worked there. Not only were these acts criminal and shocking, they were an international embarrassment and disgrace, compounded with the involvement and support of the President and other elected officials, and it was a dramatic challenge to our democratic system.
Subsequent news outlets have reported that a number of groups and entities provided financial and logistical support to those organizing and coordinating the protest gathering in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021. One of these groups apparently includes the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). According to NBC News, a component or affiliate entity of RAGA, the Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF), funded a robo-call campaign to urge people to go to the Capitol on January 6, 2021 and, according to the robo-call recordings explained that “At 1 p.m., we will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal” of the election. Also, a website promoting the January 6, 2021 rally listed RLDF as a promoter and sponsor of the event.
According to its website, you are a member of RAGA. I am sure you would agree that the people of Nebraska have a right to know whether their public funds have supported your membership in this organization, including the extent their public funds may have supported the RLDF, and similarly the involvement and extent that their funds have supported any efforts you or your office may have had in organizing, encouraging, or providing any support of arranging attendance or disseminating information of the January 6, 2021 event in Washington D.C. I am seeking documents relating to these questions.
For purposes of this request:
- “Documents” includes notes, memos, emails, text messages, faxes, letters or written items of any kind whether in paper format or electronic format, including recordings of virtual communications, video conferencing, or web conferencing. This includes notes of telephone communications, virtual communications, or emails memorializing telephone conversations or virtual communications.
- “RAGA” means the Republican Attorneys General Association.
- “RLDF” means the Rule of Law Defense Fund, an entity or subgroup or affiliate of RAGA.
- “Your office” means the Attorney General’s office of the State of Nebraska and includes you, Doug Peterson, and all employees of the Attorney General office acting in their official capacity or on behalf of your office and/or the State of Nebraska. This would include, but not be limited to, when you or such employee is using any state-owned or leased office space, computer, telephonic equipment, electronic communication device. It would also include when you or any employee is not using state-owned or leased office space, but when you or such employee is accessing or using any computer, telephonic equipment, electronic communication device, database, or any other program or software that is maintained or provided by the state, regardless as to whether you or such employee is physically located in a state office building or on state-owned or state-leased property, such as when such employee is working from home due to COVID-19 protocols or for other reasons.
The materials I am requesting are limited to the time period of November 4, 2020 to January 10, 2021 except where noted below:
- Any documents including email, letter, phone message, or other communication with your office and RAGA, and with your office and the RLDF, and with your office and any individuals or organizations or entities acting or operating on behalf of RAGA and/or RLDF relating to discussion, planning, organizing, suggesting, or providing any support of the January 6, 2021 event in Washington D.C. described earlier in this correspondence.
- Any documents or records of public funds, including any invoice, contract, check, receipt, or contribution, or similar record to pay for membership or sponsorship or dues for RAGA, RLDF, or any person, organization, or entity operating on behalf of RAGA and/or RLDF for the time period of January 1, 2019 to January 10, 2021.
- Any documents including email, letter, telephone message or other communication between your office and Governor of Nebraska Pete Ricketts, or the Governor’s office, the Governor’s Budget Office, Governor’s Policy Research Office, regarding RAGA, RLDF, or any person, organization, or entity operating on behalf of RAGA and/or RLDF regarding the January 6, 2021 event in Washington D.C. described earlier in this correspondence.
As you know, Nebraska state law requires a response to an open records request to be made within four (4) days of receipt. Please advise if you require additional time.
When the documents relevant to this request are ready, you may provide them in electronic form or, if you are providing in paper form, please let me know and I will make arrangements in my office to access those.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Senator Megan Hunt,
CC: Members of the Legislature
Members of the press