NDP Chair Jane Kleeb today demanded that the Nebraska Republican Party and its GOP candidates and officeholders return all contributions received from TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, who was called out this week for a series of racist and anti-Muslim emails.
“Joe Ricketts makes huge donations to the Nebraska GOP and has given thousands of dollars to U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, Reps. Don Bacon, Adrian Smith and many other Republicans over the years,” Kleeb said. “The Nebraska GOP should return all of Joe Ricketts’ racist money and encourage its candidates and current officeholders to do the same.”
Ricketts, the billionaire father of Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, was forced to publicly apologize after The New York Times and other media outlets wrote about emails he sent that focused a fear of Muslims and contained conspiracy theories about former President Barack Obama, among other things.
“Gov. Ricketts, who also has taken contributions from his father, has tried to distance himself from his father’s comments, saying he pointed out in the email exchanges that some of the statements were not true,” Kleeb said. “However, the Republicans cannot say on the one hand they think the comments are awful while continuing to take Joe Ricketts’ money to fund their campaigns with the other.”
In one email, Ricketts wrote that “Christians and Jews can have a mutual respect for each other to create a civil society,” but “Islam cannot do that.” He went on to write that, “we cannot ever let Islam become a large part of our society,” and that “Muslims are naturally my (our) enemy.”
“America was founded on the principle of freedom of religion, as afforded in the Constitution,” Kleeb said. “Apparently, Joe Ricketts doesn’t believe what our founders did.”
He also routinely indicated that he had been amused by the racist jokes sent to him by others, deeming one where the punchline was a racial slur to be a “great laugh,” according to the Washington Post.
On a related note, the Omaha World-Herald reported Wednesday that Creighton University announced that it will no longer include Joe Ricketts in a university event honoring accomplished alumni, citing the email scandal.