Nebraska Legal Action Fund created to fight defamation for Nebraskans

A new legal action fund in Lincoln is raising dollars to fight defamation.
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 6:11 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A new legal action fund in Lincoln is raising dollars to fight defamation.

Lincoln state lawmaker Adam Morfeld is leading the charge, in what’s called a movement to stop the spread of misinformation.

Morfeld said it’s aimed at being a resource to fight extremism against people, regardless of political party affiliation.

In 2022, Danielle Helzer ran for a seat on the Nebraska State Board of Education, she said because of her public support for the LGBTQ+ community and her desire for more comprehensive sex education, she was attacked and defamed by the opposition.

“I was publicly accused of being a groomer,” Helzer said.

Helzer lost the race, but now she’s on the board of the Nebraska Legal Action Fund.

“I definitely have the right to not be accused of a crime I didn’t commit,” Helzer said. “I didn’t know who to reach out to about that because anytime I that I would talk to people about this they would just say ‘Well this is politics’,” Helzer said.

Her experience during her candidacy could’ve been helped by the new fund. It’s made up of donations and it pays for the costs to sue someone for defamation.

“When people engage in and conduct unlawful activities such as defamation there need to be consequences,” Morfeld said. “There’s going to be a lawsuit filed against you and you’re going to have to produce the evidence of the criminal activity that you are accusing another person of engaging in.”

Morfeld is a democrat but said this fund will be for people on both sides of the political aisle.

“Regardless of whether they’re liberal or conservative, we are going to make sure that people are protected and that their rights are protected,” Morfeld said.

Morfeld said not only is the fund designed for candidates like Helzer but also public officials, teachers, and the LGBTQ+ community.

“There has been a pervasive movement in our state to demonize and try to criminalize LGBTQ Nebraskans simply for being who they are,” Morfeld said. “And those are things that quite frankly are defamatory and they need to be challenged.”

Morfeld acknowledges that there is a higher level of public scrutiny on public officials, so he imagines the fund will largely help teachers and the queer community.