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Two weeks ago, I wrote a diary about Nebraska State Senator Colby Coash's $500/person fundraising reception featuring Ted Nugent scheduled for May 10 at the Omaha Hilton.  That was at the very height of national outrage over Nugent's threatening remarks towards President Barack Obama at the NRA convention in St. Louis.  It took a few days for the Nebraska press to catch up, but - when it was revealed the Secret Service was interviewing Nugent - they started to pay attention.

First challenged on the subject by the Lincoln Journal-Star, Coash immediately defended Nugent:

"He's a free speech guy. And so am I," said state Sen. Colby Coash..."I don't agree with everything he says, but I support his right to say it."

Coash had no plans to denounce Nugent or cancel the fundraiser...."I plan to move forward," he said.

Coash probably hoped that would be the end of it.  But, he had radically underestimated just how out-of-touch Nugent's hateful political rhetoric is with the progressive Lincoln district he represents.  He'd also failed to comprehend just how contrary Nugent's outrageous and offensive statements are to Nebraskans' idea of our state's values.

First came the Letter to the Editor.  Then, a few days later, a Journal-Star editorial specifically called on Coash to cancel the event:

Coash succumbed to a nasty case of cash-strapped fever when he signed up Ted Nugent, the Motor City Mad Man, to do a campaign fund-raiser....Nugent's ugly rhetoric ought to be enough reason for a responsible legislator to want to disassociate himself from the faded rocker....

Coash's willingness to rub elbows with such a polarizing figure shows poor judgment. Army commanders at Fort Knox cancelled a scheduled appearance by Nugent after learning of his comments about America's commander in chief. Coash should follow their lead.

Finally, the progressive environmental group Bold Nebraska revealed Nugent himself had been on Nebraska radio and specifically promoted his fundraiser with Coash in an interview during which he made almost the exact same threat towards Obama that provoked so much national outrage.  Here's the key excerpt:
Nugent: "If Obama gets back in, I'm either in jail or dead."


Nugent: "I didn't mean that to be funny."

KFAB Host: "No, I know.  I know you're serious.  There's no question in my mind that you're dead serious on this."

Apparently, this was finally enough that Coash had to reconsider.  But, rather than denounce Nugent's comments or cancel the fundraiser, all he's done is scaled it down and made it a private, invitation-only event.

Nebraska Watchdog reports:

A legislative candidate is backing away from a fundraiser he was scheduled to have with controversial rocker Ted Nugent on May 10 in Omaha....Coash says Nugent will only speak at a private reception, rather than a public fundraiser....

“I am no longer asking Ted to speak in a public way on my behalf, but to instead engage personally with his fans who want to meet him. While I am hosting this private event, no one in attendance is under any obligation to support my campaign,” Coash said. “It’s now just my friends coming to meet privately with Ted."

Coash told the Journal-Star the same thing and also tried to explain his reasoning:
While Coash said he respects others' opinions, he decided to move forward with the private event.  "I don't always agree with Ted Nugent, but I enjoy bringing people together from differing perspectives to get the job done for Nebraska," he said Monday. "I look forward to talking with his fans about the issues important to them."
I don't know how shameless you have to be to claim that hosting a hateful and divisive fringe character like Nugent is all about "bringing people together from differing perspectives."  Of course, Coash insists no one attending will be "under any obligation" to support his campaign.  But, who does does he think he's kidding?  Without a doubt, the surest way to get an invite to this private reception with Nugent is to write Coash's campaign a check.  That's still a fundraiser any way you look at it - and Coash still stands to benefit from Nugent's noxious and hateful political rhetoric.

Unfortunately, the most widely circulated newspaper in Nebraska, the Omaha World-Herald, accepted Coash's silly argument at face value in its story entitled "Lawmaker Cancels Nugent Fundraiser."  The Huffington Post picked up on that misleading story and relayed it as fact.  But, we know that's not the case and shouldn't let Coash get away with playing these sorts of games.

Yes, even in Nebraska people are standing up against the rightwing extremism and dangerous political rhetoric of Ted Nugent and his like.  Through his actions, Senator Coash has embraced that style of politics and continues to endorse it by proceeding with this reception.  He's trying desperately to put a little distance between himself and Nugent by playing political games.  But, Nebraskans are not fooled and will continue speaking out and demanding better!

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