Friends and family
August 16, 2002
An open letter to Commissioner Steve Weissinger:
As a resident of Douglas County, I was offended by your “Commissioner’s Corner” article of Aug. 10. I found your tone throughout to be arrogant, condescending and self-serving. I found fault with nearly all of your purported “facts.” I will confine my comments, however, to just one topic that you raised: campaign contributions.
In the article, you claimed: “I have not seen, nor have I received campaign contributions from any special interest groups, unless of course, you include friends and family as special interest groups.” Since campaign contributions are a matter of public record, let’s see who your “friends and family” are.
Over 45 percent of the contributions to your 2000 campaign came from one family, who happen to be developers, and two development companies with which they are associated. Earlier this year, you helped vote their son, also a developer, onto the Douglas County Planning Commission. More than 15 percent of your contributions came from Harvey’s Casino Resort and Harvey’s Corporate. Do you count these as “friends” or “family”? Sounds more like a “special interest group” to me.
Your next biggest contributor was another developer. This person came before the county commissioners earlier this year to ask for a master plan amendment, so she could build 39 homes on a parcel on which she was entitled to build eight homes. Did you recuse yourself from voting on your “friend’s” request? No, you supported her cause and voted to grant her the additional units, despite a recommendation for denial by the planning commission.
The question is this: Don’t you consider developers to be a “special interest group”? Most people in this county certainly would. You have voted to approve over 90 percent of master plan amendments that have come before you, most of them brought forward by developers. In my opinion, passage of all these amendments is one of the main reasons that the master plan is not working as it was originally intended.
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To recap, over half your campaign contributions in 2000 came from developers, over two-thirds when we include a casino. When we throw in a law firm and a Republican women’s group, we are at nearly three-quarters. When do the “friends and family” come in? Not only should you withdraw your claim that all your campaign contributions are from “friends and family,” but you should address the ethics of voting your major contributors’ son to the planning commission, and voting on a contributor’s request for a master plan amendment. Even if you have not broken any law, you may have crossed the boundaries of common sense and common decency.
My suggestion: You should resign immediately.