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Nebraska governor hopeful Krist denies drinking allegations

September 17, 2018

FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2018, file photo, Nebraska state Sen. Bob Krist, of Omaha, speaks during debate in the Legislative Chamber in Lincoln, Neb. Nebraska Republican officials have accused Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Krist of drinking on the job as a state senator and implied he drove while intoxicated, allegations that state investigators dismissed and that Krist fervently denies. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Republican officials Monday accused Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Krist of drinking on the job as a state senator and implied that he drove while intoxicated, allegations that state investigators declined to pursue and that Krist fervently denies.

The Nebraska Republican Party released videos that show Krist at Billy’s Restaurant, a popular Lincoln hangout for legislators and lobbyists.

One video dated March 23 shows Krist at a table with a beverage , chatting with another state senator. Another dated May 7 shows him behind the bar at the restaurant , facing away from the camera and appearing to fix a drink. A third video dated May 7 shows Krist getting into his car outside the restaurant with a to-go cup.

It’s not known if the dates listed on the video titles are accurate.

Nebraska Republican officials unveiled the footage days after GOP State Auditor Charlie Janssen apologized for taking numerous three-hour lunches and drinking beer at a Lincoln sports bar during regular business hours. Democrats called on Janssen to resign after the lunches were exposed by the Omaha World-Herald.

Nebraska GOP Executive Director Kenny Zoeller said Krist’s “habit of heavy drinking is an open secret in the Capitol, so much so that Krist acquired the nickname ‘Tequila Bob.’”

“Bob Krist needs to apologize to the public,” Zoeller said. “People want their state senator to be accessible during the session. Rather than be accessible to constituents, he’s at the bar drinking tequila.”

Krist spokesman Dan Parsons said in an interview the Omaha state senator “absolutely” denies the allegations and called the attack “a new low in Nebraska politics.”

Parsons said Krist was often in the restaurant because, at the time, he was renting a campaign office upstairs. He said the March 23 video was filmed an hour and a half after lawmakers had adjourned from that day’s session.

Parsons said the attack shows that Krist poses a legitimate threat to incumbent Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts in the GOP-dominated state.

“There’s absolutely nothing in these videos that shows what they’re alleging,” Parsons said. “It’s just B.S.”

The footage comes in the midst a nasty race that has included personal name-calling and a public feud over who should moderate election debates. The governor’s campaign has referred to Krist as “Lying Bob” when he attacks Ricketts, while Krist’s camp rails against “Wall Street Pete,” a reference to the governor’s status as a multimillionaire and his billionaire father, TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts.

Nebraska Liquor Control Commission Executive Director Hobert Rupe said his office received the footage from Zoeller in May and submitted it to the Nebraska State Patrol, but investigators found no violations of state law.

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Follow Grant Schulte on Twitter at https://twitter.com/GrantSchulte

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