Nebraska’s GOP Senate candidates have big bucks in the bank

Deena Winter
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Jan 03, 2014 9:15 AM
Nebraska’s GOP Senate candidates have big bucks in the bank

By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog

LINCOLN, Neb. — The four Republicans vying to be Nebraska’s next U.S. senator have considerable money in the bank — and we’re not talking about campaign funds.

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BIG BUCKS: The four Republican candidates running for the U.S. Senate in Nebraska all have considerable money in the bank — their bank.

Their own bank accounts are pretty plump, given their positions as a bank president, college president, national business law firm partner and a state-treasurer-turned-financial-adviser.

Omaha attorney Bart McLeay and Omaha banker Sid Dinsdale’s financial disclosure reports show they’re millionaires, with former state treasurer Shane Osborn and Midland University president Ben Sasse possibly members of the millionaires’ club, too. The other candidates have not yet filed the reports.

All Senate candidates are required to fill out financial disclosure reports under the Ethics in Government Act, which was enacted in 1978 in the wake of the Watergate scandal. Candidates are not required to report assets such as houses or cars.

Since candidates are only required to disclose their financial information in broad ranges, it’s impossible to determine their net worth, but the reports give us some idea what kind of financial resources the candidates bring to the table, what companies they’re invested in and what groups they earn money working for. Senate ethics rules prohibit senators from being involved in activities where there could be a conflict of interest, so whoever wins the Senate seat would likely have to resign from some of the positions listed below.

Here’s a breakdown of information gleaned from the financial disclosure reports reviewed by Nebraska Watchdog:

Dinsdale

The Pinnacle Bankcorp president has considerable resources, reporting assets of between $109 million and about $250 million. However, his assets could be even higher, since he valued his interest in Pinnacle Bancorp at more than $50 million, the highest range possible.

His family founded Pinnacle Bank, the third wealthiest bank in Nebraska. His campaign manager, Beth Kramer, said in October he will use “some” of his money to fund his campaign, but that he plans to raise most of his campaign funds. When asked to define “some,” given his considerable assets, Kramer said Thursday, “I’m not going to talk about strategy or what he is or is not willing to put in.”

“He needs to have investors in his campaign,” she said.

In a 21-month reporting period ending in September, Dinsdale reported $1.2 million in earned income, including $1.026 million in income from Pinnacle Bank, $84,000 from Dinsdale Bros., $42,000 from Four Seasons Ag of Omaha, $40,000 in director fees from Pinnacle and $13,400 in director fees from Ameritas Life Insurance.

Sid Dinsdale

Sid Dinsdale

Dinsdale reported he and his spouse own stock in a myriad of companies, including Exxon Mobile Corp., General Electric, Google, pharmaceutical companies, a mining company, Monsanto and ConAgra.

He reported owning between $3 million and $12 million in Berkshire Hathaway stock.

Among his non-publicly traded assets were:

• His interest in Pinnacle Bancorp’s Central City holding company was valued at more than $50 million and his wife’s interest was valued at more than $1 million.

• His interest in Dinsdale Brothers, Inc., a cattle feeding company in Palmer, was valued at $25 million to $50 million.
• His interest in Dinsdale Express, a Palmer trucking company, was valued at between $100,000 and $250,000.
• His interest in Four Seasons Ag of Palmer was valued at $1 million to $5 million.
• He and his wife’s interest in the Goldenrod Cattle Company of Wishner was valued at $200,000 to $500,000.
• He and his wife’s interest in Edgewater Investments, an Omaha agriculture and investments company of which he is president and director, was valued at $2 million to $5 million. His wife’s interest in the company was valued at more than $1 million.
• His interest in Pinnacle Bancorp’s Sioux City holding company was valued at $5 million to $25 million.
• His interest in Pinnacle Data Services of Gretna was valued at $1 million to $5 million.
• His interest in Osceola Company of Osceola, an agriculture/investments company for which is vice president and director, was valued at $5 million to $25 million. Osceola owns an interest in farm implement dealerships, real estate investments and two ethanol plants.

Dinsdale reported holding positions with 42 entities, including a Cozad feed lot, feed manufacturer, Boy Scouts and a hog feeding company.

McLeay

The Omaha attorney listed more than $1 million in partnership income from the Kutak Rock law firm from 2012 through July 2013.

Bart McLeay

Bart McLeay

McLeay is a litigation partner at Kutak Rock, a national business law firm focused on major commercial litigation. He reported assets of between $1.3 million and $4.4 million. His only liability listed related to a house in the amount of between $100,000 and $250,000.

Among his assets were investments in companies such as Phillips Petroleum, Berkshire Hathaway, Anheuser Busch and Halliburton.

Osborn

Osborn reported assets of between a half-million dollars and $2 million.

Among his assets are:

• Commercial property in Red Falls, Minn., valued at $250,000 to $500,000

CAVU Advisory, his Waterloo risk management consulting company, which he valued at $50,000 to $100,000. He reported $335,000 in income from CAVU during his reporting period,  2012 through June 2013.

Osborn reported he earned $80,000 in salary from CAVU  and $14,000 in salary from Silverstone Inc., an Omaha insurance company during the 18-month period.

Shane Osborn

Shane Osborn

Osborn also sits on several boards, including:

• Chairman of the Nebraska Soldiers Foundation, an Omaha nonprofit he founded to help veterans and their families deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.

• President of the Princeton Academy Advisory Group, a Kingston, N.J.investment firm since 2011.

• President of CAVU since 2011.

• Project consultant for Silverstone, Inc., since 2011.

• CEO of Treasury Services Group, an Omaha auditing firm, since mid-2012.

• Consultant since 2011 for The Ashcroft Group, a Virginia consulting firm cofounded by former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.

• Partner in Academy Securities, a San Diego based veteran-owned broker dealer, since 2011. The company website lists him as chief marketing officer.

Osborn reported receiving more than $5,000 in compensation in 2012 from all of those except the Nebraska Soldiers Foundation. The form doesn’t require him to list specific compensation amounts; his campaign manager said the income is reported through CAVU.

In addition, he reported receiving more than $5,000 in compensation from:
• the Ministry of Finance in the United Republic of Chad and a Saudi Arabian aviation company for aircraft insurance advice.
Wirst Insurance Agency in Chicago, for insurance and risk management advisory services.
Jetstream Aviation in McLean, Va., for aviation risk management advisory services.
Ability Insurance in Omaha, for consulting and risk advisory services.
ICG Group, in Radner, Penn., for advisory services.

Asked whether Osborn’s connections while serving as state treasurer have played a role in the wealth he has accumulated, Osborn’s campaign manager, Bill Novotny, said via email, “Shane has a degree in actuarial science, which is why he has built a career in financial services since leaving office.”

Sasse

The Midland University president reported assets of between $873,000 and $2.4 million.

He reported $1.2 million in earned income in the past two years, including a $297,000 salary as university president and nearly a half million dollars earned by giving speeches and strategizing for organizations across the nation.

Sasse may not have much name recognition in Nebraska, but he’s a big name on the national health care speaking circuit, as former U.S. assistant secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush.

For example, in December 2012 he was paid $11,250 by Lincoln Healthcare to debate former presidential nominee Howard Dean on health care reform. Just two months ago, he was paid $12,000 to debate Dean again during a Moss Adams health care reform conference at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas.

Last year he was one of five keynote speakers at the Pinsonault Managed Markets Summit , including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. The three-day conference at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas was billed as “a venue where key stakeholders in the managed markets industry can share thought-provoking information vital to pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturers’ business needs.”

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Benjamin Sasse

It cost $2,595 per person to attend. Sasse was paid $15,000 for strategizing and a speech, just one of five events he did for Pinsonault since February 2012 for which he earned a total of $71,500.

During a speech last year about health care reform for the Chautauqua Womens Club — where former Sen. Hillary Clinton has also been a featured speaker — he regaled the audience with a story about his travails getting there, which included a mention of his 900,000 United Airlines frequent flier miles. He was paid $2,000 for his trouble.

A sampling of his other speaking/consulting gigs:
• $12,000 from Abbott Labs, a global health care company that specializes in diagnostics, medical devices, nutritionals and generic pharmaceuticals.
• $10,500 from the Arkansas Hospital Association.
• $23,000 from Baylor Health in Texas.
• $12,000 from Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm at which he worked from 2003-2005.
• $155,000 in fees from Catfish Ventures/Silverstream, which bills itself as an alternative investment company. Sasse’s campaign manager said it’s a private equity fund Sasse has advised. BusinessWeek describes Silverstream as a private equity firm specializing in growth equity, leverage buyouts, recapitalization, and platform buy and builds.
• $46,286 for strategizing from My Telehealth Solutions, a San Diego online telemedicine company for which he was a director from mid-2011 until June.

Until October, he was a director for a Tennessee company called Simplex Healthcare, which operates as Diabetes Care Club and was recently sold to a Florida company. According to the Tennessean, Simplex was once a fast-growing diabetes supply company until changes were made to how the feds reimbursed providers, causing a wave of consolidation.

Sasse is also listed as a director for Westminster Seminary California, an independent theological seminary, and holds “multiple religious organization positions” not required to be listed in the report.

Sasse also disclosed that his employment agreement with Midland University was amended in October to reflect the reduction in his duties and the creation of a “chairman’s cabinet” to oversee most daily institutional operations. His salary was reduced to between $100,000 and $150,000 annually.

Contact Deena Winter at deena@nebraskawatchdog.org.

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