Democrats call for Auditor Janssen to resign; Gov. Ricketts says Janssen vows to change

September 19, 2018

LINCOLN - Nebraska Democrats say state Auditor Charlie Janssen should resign after acknowledging spending little time in the office and long lunches at a Lincoln sports bar.

Nebraska Democratic Party chair Jane Kleeb tells reporters during a Capitol news conference Auditor Janssen should step down and rebate the portion of his salary he wasted in a bar.

“It is offensive that he then stands in front of a banner at Husker Harvest Days, saying for people to call in and email any waste, fraud, and abuse and he is the poster child of waste, fraud, and abuse,” Kleeb says.

The Omaha World-Herald reported on September 14th that Janssen often spends more of his workday at a Lincoln sports bar than at his Capitol office. A three-month investigation by the newspaper found a pattern of arriving late to work, then leaving for lunch breaks which could last for three hours, often drinking beer with friends.

“In the past month, over the course of 20 working days, the newspaper observed the state auditor 10 times spending lengthy lunches at Brewsky’s, a popular sports bar about 15 blocks south of the State Capitol,” the newspaper reported.

Janssen, a Republican, is up for re-election after winning the state Auditor’s race four years ago. He is paid a $85,000 annual salary.

Janssen acknowledged the report was true in a written statement.

“I apologize to the citizens of Nebraska for some of my choices, and effective immediately I am taking steps to make changes in my personal and professional life,” Janssen said in the statement.

Janssen asked that citizens view the total body of work of his office since he became Auditor, noting the office had come under budget each year and the office had “uncovered numerous cases of fraud and abuse, saving taxpayers millions of dollars each year.”

The statement holds no sway with Democrat Jane Skinner, who is running against Janssen in November. Skinner acknowledges the Auditor’s office has done good work.

“I think he has a great staff who does great work, but him as an auditor? I’m not impressed,” Skinner tells reporters at the news conference.

Democrats fault Gov. Pete Ricketts for not demanding Janssen resign. Ricketts says he talked with Janssen after the Omaha World-Herald broke the story.

“Well, what Charlie did was wrong,” Ricketts tells reporters after an event at the Capitol. “In the conversation that I had with him, he acknowledged it was wrong and said he was going to make changes with regard to his work ethic and how he was going to be at the office and that’s what we’re waiting to see.”

Ricketts says it is up to Nebraska voters to decide Janssen’s political fate.

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