Editorial: Email hoax attempting to manipulate NE state senators crossed a line


Special interests, take note: Learn from a recent situation at the Nebraska Legislature that shows how an underhanded lobbying tactic can backfire.

State senators were debating a legislative proposal to facilitate so-called small-cell technology — mounted antennas enabling faster, fifth-generation wireless technology known as 5G. The measure, Legislative Bill 389, was introduced by State Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson, chairman of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.

Some lawmakers began receiving dozens of emails supporting the industry-backed proposal, but the emails turned out to be bogus — they were messages falsely sent under constituents’ names. When lawmakers replied to some of the bogus emails, their constituents — unfamiliar with the legislation — were left perplexed and, in some cases, upset. The confusion ratcheted up the tension in what was already fierce disagreement among lawmakers. LB 389 died in the face of a filibuster.

At this point the origin of the bogus messages isn’t known.

The attempted manipulation of the Nebraska Legislature under false pretenses crosses an important line. Senators need to be vigilant, and special interests need to understand that such underhandedness is likely to backfire, as it certainly should.

This article originally ran on omaha.com.

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