Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster, state legislators clash on misconduct allegations

Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 6:09 PM CDT
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LA VISTA, Neb. (WOWT) - There is angry back and forth between a candidate for Nebraska governor and supporters of a state senator accusing him of sexual assault.

Charles Herbster blames another candidate for governor, Jim Pillen and his campaign, for using the “establishment machine in Nebraska to sling mud.”

Tuesday, colleagues of Sen. Julie Slama came to her defense with a legal fund for victims and witnesses.

Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn says the fund is a message of support.

“We’re trying to send a message the only way we know how, that if you are scared, getting bullied, if you’re getting letters from lawyers, come to us, we will help you,” said Linehan.

There are five female republicans in the Nebraska legislature. They are the four who created the support fund, and senator Julie Slama, who accused Herbster of reaching under her skirt during a political event in Omaha in 2019.

Seven other unnamed women have also come forward with similar stories.

The four senators are offering the accusers and the witnesses protection of sorts, a place to get counsel and resources.

“He’s clearly a predator,” Linehan added. “He doesn’t go around to women our age group who would turn around and slap him.”

Since the Nebraska Examiner first broke the story two weeks ago, businessman Charles Herbster has repeatedly denied the allegations, calling the story nothing more than politically motivated lies.

He reiterated that during a debate in Holdrege, Nebraska, Sunday night.

“I understand political smear,’ Herbster said. “I understand what happens when you’re leading in the polls and they want to take you down.”

Monday a new Herbster advertisement began running. The ad blames Sen. Slama and her political ally Gov. Pete Ricketts, who supports Jim Pillen for governor, of hatching a plan to take him down.

Herbster claims Sen. Slama continued to contact him after the alleged assault, including texts, calls, meetings and inviting him to her wedding.

Sen. Slama has said the wedding invites were co-mingled with donor lists and she didn’t realize Herbster had been invited.

April 14, Sen. Slama told KFAB: “It was a scary thought to have the man who sexually assaulted me RSVP and saying he was coming to my wedding.”

Tuesday, Slama’s attorney fires back, claiming the ad’s conspiracy is slander, and Herbster is “trying to bully sexual assault victims into silence,” and that he “will answer for it in court.”

Slama’s team has scheduled a deposition of Herbster four days before election day.

Even though the four senators all support Jim Pillen, they say this case is about doing the right thing.

Two of the four senators say they received letters from Herbster’s attorney asking them to preserve any documents or emails pertinent to the case.

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