- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 1, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska State Auditor Charlie Janssen said he’s only involved at “arm’s length” with his company that continues to receive money for contracts with the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Janssen said the company, RTG Medical, has been in a blind trust since his election and that two minority partners handle its day-to-day operations.

The state has paid his company more than $266,000 to provide temporary medical workers at the Beatrice State Development Center since Janssen was sworn into office on Jan. 8, the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1MZJN6T ) reported.

According to the company’s website, the business serves facilities in all 50 states. Concerns about its contracts with Nebraska arose while Janssen was campaigning for the auditor job.

Elected officials aren’t barred by state law in doing business with state agencies. But state statutes say an elected official should report potential conflicts of interest when his or her job includes making decisions that “may cause financial benefit or detriment to him or her, a member of his or her immediate family, or a business with which he or she is associated.”

Those reports go to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, and if the commission finds a conflict of interest, it advises the official on whether to stop taking part in the decision or activity involved, said Frank Daley, the commission’s executive director.

“The issue is, is he taking an action or making a decision that could have a financial impact on his business?” Daley said. “If the answer is no, then there’s not a conflict of interest.”

The commission has nothing to rule on since Janssen hasn’t reported any potential conflicts.

Former State Auditor Mike Foley, who is now lieutenant governor, said last year that he didn’t think “you could possibly be the state auditor and have a contract with the state” since the auditor is in charge of monitoring state funds.

Foley referred questions on Monday to Gov. Pete Ricketts’ spokesman, who declined to comment.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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