Governor Ricketts: “American Stewards of Liberty are a group that looks to protect private property rights…Margaret Byfield, [is] the person we’ve been working with…”

Washington, D.C. — On his tour across the state misinforming Nebraskans about President Biden’s 30 by 30 land conservation policy, Governor Pete Ricketts finally came clean about “working with” American Stewards of Liberty (ASoL), a fringe conspiracy-pushing group advocating for an anti-conservation agenda. The Governor’s office previously distanced him from the group, asking a reporter for “more information” on the organization when their relationship was questioned, even after obvious collaboration.   

“It’s been quite a journey for Governor Ricketts: just two weeks ago, he was playing dumb about his relationship with this fringe conspiracy theory-pushing group, and now he has publicly and proudly admitted to working with them. The misinformation campaign from American Stewards of Liberty moves further away from reality every day. It’s long overdue for Ricketts to come clean, but it’s alarming that anyone — especially a governor — would want to be associated with this group or its irresponsible anti-conservation message,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. 

While this is Ricketts’ first time publicly acknowledging his ties to the group, their collaboration has been clear for quite a while. Ahead of signing on to a letter to President Biden opposing the 30 by 30 land conservation plan, Ricketts met with Byfield where they discussed ways to oppose the policy. He confirmed this story when he was a guest on ASoL spokesperson Trent Loos’ podcast. The group has also supplied Ricketts with talking points and PowerPoint slides to be used at his town halls across the state to scare the public out of supporting Biden’s policy. This didn’t stop Ricketts from playing dumb in an attempt to distance himself from the group. When reached for comment about his relationship with ASoL, the Governor’s office asked for “more information” on the group, as if this previous collaboration had never happened. 

By spending a substantial amount of time and money lobbying government officials to oppose President Biden’s 30 by 30 plan, ASoL appears to be violating IRS rules for tax-exempt nonprofits. Ricketts claims it is “perfectly legal to express your disagreements, especially with the federal government, through the course of law.” While that might be true, the IRS deems collaboration on legislation with county commissioners and other state legislators as lobbying, jeopardizing ASoL’s status as a nonprofit. Accountable.US filed a complaint with the IRS against ASoL for pressuring local officials in multiple states to pass legislation opposing the 30 by 30 plan. 

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