Omaha Public Radio News
9:25 am
Fri January 14, 2011

State Patrol asked to investigate Forward Omaha

Omaha, NE – Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle's anti-recall group says their program busing people to the Douglas County Election Commission for early voting will continue.

Forward Omaha issued a statement early Friday morning, two days after they bused homeless people to the Election Commission for early voting. The program came under fire as some voters reported being paid five dollars. Forward Omaha combined programs giving rides to voters and busing them to a training program, where they were paid for their time.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine has asked the Nebraska State Patrol to investigate Forward Omaha. A NSP spokeswoman says an investigation could begin early next week.

Siena-Francis House Executive Director Mike Saklar says the shelter doesn't get involved in political activities. But, he says, they're facing repercussions because of Forward Omaha's program. Saklar says the shelter received angry phone calls and emails about the busing program. He says Forward Omaha members showed up at the shelter, didn't identify themselves, and didn't have permission from him.

In the statement from Forward Omaha, spokeswoman Noelle Obermeyer apologized to Siena-Francis House and the Open Door Mission. The statement acknowledges that Forward Omaha didn't coordinate their efforts with the shelters. It goes on to say the busing program will continue, giving rides to anyone who wants to vote early.

Forward Omaha's statement also criticizes the recall committee as "shameful" and accuses them of using scare tactics by criticizing the program. Obermeyer says allegations that voters were paid to vote are political rhetoric and lacking in facts.

The statement makes no mention of the Douglas County Attorney's request for an investigation in to the group.