Nebraska state Sen. Megan Hunt, who has a transgender son, is the subject of an ethics investigation because a political critic claims she would benefit financially from the defeat of a proposed ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth.
Omaha lawyer David Begley filed the complaint with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, and the commission’s executive director, Frank Daley, hand-delivered it to Hunt last Wednesday, the Nebraska Examiner reports.
During debate on Legislative Bill 574, Hunt has talked about trying to obtain Medicaid coverage for her son’s treatment — but such coverage is not allowed under Nebraska law; it has been explicitly banned since 1990. LB 574 does not address the Medicaid issue, but in his complaint, Begley contended that Hunt has “a slightly more than average chance” of obtaining the coverage if LB 574 is defeated. She could do so by filing a lawsuit, he said.
Hunt has called the complaint sheer harassment, and other members of the one-chamber, officially nonpartisan legislature agree — even those who take an opposite stance on the bill.
“Being a parent and loving your child is never a conflict of interest, and I’m focused on serving my constituents and the people of Nebraska,” Hunt told The Advocate Tuesday via email.
Last week, Hunt tweeted, “My colleagues stood up offering support, but I don’t need their words. I need their vote. My child needs their vote. Children and families from across our state need their votes. Words are meaningless unless we put action behind them. I will continue to advocate for our kids — yours, theirs, and mine — no matter what harassment or intimidation comes my way."
Sen. Tom Brandt was among the legislators who stood up for Hunt. “Family is off limits,” he said in the legislature last week, according to the Examiner. He added, “I do not endorse this offensive complaint. It is so far out of bounds that it does not merit discussion.”
Although the legislature is officially nonpartisan, Brandt is aligned with the Republican Party, Hunt with the Democratic Party.
Sen. Wendy DeBoer, who is Democratic-aligned, also defended Hunt, noting that all lawmakers bring life experience to their posts, the Examiner reports. “So if Sen. Hunt is going to get a conflict or a NADC file against her, then I should too,” DeBoer said.
LB 574 would ban the provision of hormones, puberty blockers, and surgeries to people under 19 for the purpose of gender transition. In Nebraska, bills have to go through three rounds of debate and voting before advancing to the governor for a signature or veto. LB 574 has survived the first two rounds, the most recent being April 13. Sen. John Arch, speaker of the legislature, has promised to work out a compromise with fellow conservative legislators before a final vote occurs, however, according to the Associated Press.
But liberal lawmakers remain determined to kill the bill. Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh has kept up a filibuster against the measure, vowing to keep any other legislation from passing in order to block it. Hunt and Sen. John Fredrickson, the first two out Nebraska state legislators — Hunt is bisexual, Fredrickson gay — have joined in her filibuster and in founding an organization, Don’t Legislate Hate, to support pro-equality candidates nationwide.
“We just thought we should put our heads together, and we should combine our resources and start a PAC so that we can bring hope to the LGBTQ+ community,” Hunt told The Advocate about Don’t Legislate Hate. “We can let them know that someone is fighting for them.”