WASHINGTON, D.C. — Yesterday, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts held a town hall in Norfolk to oppose and misinform the public about President Biden’s 30 by 30 land conservation policy, adopting language and graphics used by the fringe conspiracy-pushing group American Stewards of Liberty (ASoL). In response to the governor parroting the group’s talking points, government watchdog Accountable.US released the following statement: 

“The people of Nebraska should know that behind Governor Ricketts’ fear-mongering presentation is a puppet master — American Stewards of Liberty — pulling the strings of misinformation to scare people out of supporting common sense environmental solutions,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “American Stewards of Liberty is a fringe conspiracy-pushing organization that continues to move further away from reality every day. It’s unclear why anyone would want to be associated with the group or its message. It is especially frightening that any governor would sing from their sheet music.” 

Governor Ricketts’ presentation used some of the same sources, numbers, and even PowerPoint slides as those used by ASoL. His relationship with the group appears to have grown in recent months: Ricketts was a guest on ASoL spokesperson Trent Loos’s podcast in March, where he admitted to having met privately with ASoL Executive Director Margaret Byfield to discuss ways to oppose President Biden’s 30 by 30 climate initiatives. Following this meeting, Ricketts signed on to a letter addressed to the President opposing the plan. Rickets has received frequent promotion and praise from Byfield and the group. At its first anti-30 by 30 event, ASoL proclaimed “Thank Governor Ricketts” with a PowerPoint slide that quoted the governor’s promise to obstruct Biden’s environment policies.


(Left: ASoL Spokesperson Trent, “American Stewards Of Liberty On Tour,” 4/20/21
Right: Governor Pete Ricketts, Clay County 30 X 30 Townhall, 6/3/21)


(Executive Director Margaret Byfield 03/17/21) 

A History of Conspiracy-Pushing

American Stewards of Liberty has a history of promoting wild conspiracy theories, including denying climate change and suggesting the United Nations wants to eliminate private property rights. The group’s spokesperson, Trent Loos, publicly compared the 30 by 30 policy to Hitler, warning “history does repeat itself.” Byfield went further, agreeing to a comment that compared the plan to Stalin’s genocide of the Ukranian people. The group has been supported by at least $120,000 from the Koch-backed dark money network. It has also worked directly with the oil and gas industry to oppose protections for public lands and wildlife. 

Accountable.US filed a complaint with the IRS against the organization for its role in pressuring local officials in multiple states to pass legislation opposing the 30 by 30 plan, a direct violation to its tax-exempt status.

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