LINCOLN – State Senator Laura Ebke of Crete is trading barbs with the Nebraska Republican Party over showings of a classic Christmas movie at area theaters.
Ebke sponsored showings of “It’s A Wonderful Life” Thursday at the Bonham Theatre in Fairbury and over the weekend at the Rialto II in Geneva. Showings are also scheduled in Crete and Hebron.
Nebraska GOP Executive Director Kenny Zoeller issued a press release Friday accusing Ebke of violating state law by trying to bribe voters in support of her 2018 re-election campaign. He said party officials are reviewing the situation to determine whether to take any legal action.
Ebke used campaign funds to sponsor the showings, including providing free drinks and popcorn. The Fairbury native says she got the idea after the Bonham Theatre re-opened earlier this year.
Ebke said in a release she discussed the events with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission and was assured there were no laws broken. She also compared the Nebraska GOP to Mr. Potter, the villain of the movie.
Ebke represents Legislative District 32, which includes Jefferson, Saline, Thayer and Fillmore counties as well as southwestern Lancaster County and is the chair of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee. She was elected to the seat as a Republican in 2014. In 2016 she left the GOP for the Libertarian Party citing frustration with her fellow Republicans, including Gov. Pete Ricketts.
Sen. Ebke will be up for re-election in 2018. She is being challenged in the race by Republican Al Riskowski of Lincoln. Riskowski is the former director of the Nebraska Family Alliance, a conservative lobbying group.