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Court Dismisses Suit Over Councilman’s Political Ad

(CN) - The Nebraska Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit accusing a member of the Omaha City Council of violating election rules by using his office as the backdrop for a political commercial.

The Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act bars a government official from using "property under his or her official care and control for the purpose of campaigning."

City councilman James D. Vokal used his office to film a 7-second segment of a 30-second political advertisement for his re-election campaign.

The director of the opposing political party filed a complaint with the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Commission, which found Vokal in violation of the Act and fined him $100.

The district court reversed the commission's decision, concluding that Vokal's conduct had to cost taxpayers in order to violate the Act.

The state high court agreed that the commission had liberally defined the "use" of official property.

"We question, even under the strict dictionary definition of 'use,' whether the mere fact that items under official control that are present in the background as 'props' in an advertisement can be considered as a deployment or consumption of the items," Justice McCormack wrote.

The court held that Vokal had not violated the Act.

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