FALLS CITY, Neb. (KMTV) — Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster lives most of his time within the state at a $1.5 million condominium on the Omaha riverfront or at a $300,000 residence in his native Falls Metropolis.
He spent a lot of the previous couple of years flying in chartered planes with marketing campaign surrogates and relations of former President Donald Trump. He’s donated tens of millions to political candidates.
He runs agribusinesses in a number of states, together with Conklin Co., in Minnesota and Missouri, and Herbster Angus Farms in Nebraska. He owns a $500,000 “visitor residence” in Kansas Metropolis.
He and a few of his corporations even have a historical past of paying property taxes late – typically years late. Right here’s what 3 Information Now Investigators present in a quarter-century of property data from six states:
Herbster and his companies have been late practically 600 occasions on property taxes, tax cost data present. No place has seen extra late funds than residence, Richardson County, Nebraska.
That’s the place Herbster grew up, and the place he nonetheless owns and operates Herbster Angus Farms. Our reporting recognized at the very least 29 properties Herbster and his corporations personal there.
He and his privately held corporations have paid their native property taxes late at the very least 529 occasions because the mid-Nineties, Richardson County tax data present.
The Richardson County Treasurer’s Workplace in Falls Metropolis confirmed the late funds we recognized from the previous decade and confirmed us the place we might examine the remaining.
In Might, the county treasurer confirmed our reporting that a lot of Herbster’s native properties had late funds as lately as 2018, which Herbster blamed on confusion after his spouse, Judy, died in 2017.
The house owners of about 600 of Richardson County’s 10,000 properties pay their taxes late, in a given 12 months. That quantity climbed above 700 throughout the pandemic 12 months of 2020.
Herbster argues that he made a “acutely aware selection” to pay his property taxes late, saying he did so to offset money movement issues after his household bought Conklin from its unique house owners within the Nineties.
He made a part of that argument throughout his formal marketing campaign announcement in April. He already knew 3 Information Now was digging into his previous funds. He recalled his spouse having to work two jobs on the time.
He now says the money movement issues lasted at the very least twenty years: “It was troublesome many of the 29 years we owned the enterprise till concerning the final 5 to seven years.”
He stated he needed to determine in a lot of these years whether or not to maintain 20,000 Conklin distributors and his staff paid on time or paying his property taxes late.
“I didn’t wish to do both, however I can inform you it was a simple determination for me,” he stated.
Jon Cannon, Government Director of the Nebraska Affiliation of County Officers, says his data present that fewer than 1 in 10 properties in Nebraska put up late property tax funds, in a given 12 months.
Solely about 2% wait so lengthy that they danger greater than a penalty. These properties go to tax sale, which implies an investor pays the principal quantity of taxes owed and redeem the property after three years.
Property house owners who pay up earlier than their properties go to tax sale pay 14% curiosity. Herbster stated he had no selection however to pay, that he “couldn’t borrow any cash from the financial institution.”
“At this time I can sit right here and say guess what, we virtually went bankrupt 3 times,” he stated. “However I’m proud to say at the moment that Conklin is profitable.”
Regardless of the curiosity collected from landowners and buyers, native governments and faculty districts do face challenges when giant landowners pay late, Cannon stated.
“The political subdivisions, once they arrange their price range, they are saying right here’s the worth they need to levy towards, that’s going to go away slightly little bit of a gap of their price range,” he stated.
Herbster and his corporations even have paid late in different states, together with taxes on property in Virginia, Iowa and a Kansas Metropolis residence he says he’s solely spent a pair nights at since his spouse died.
He practically misplaced two properties in Colorado for being years late paying his 2008 property taxes. Unfinished paperwork by a purchaser at a tax sale let him maintain onto each parcels by paying off his taxes in 2013.
One place Herbster has by no means been late is on his 11th flooring apartment overlooking the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. Conklin, Herbster’s best-known firm, owns the apartment and pays its taxes on time.
Douglas County data present Conklin paid a variety of taxes on the apartment, from $23,193.80 in 2015 to $31,019.80 in 2020.
Herbster stated he wouldn’t change a factor about how he paid his taxes. He pressured the significance of conserving the enterprise going. And he stated he promised his grandmother he would by no means dump land.
“It actually didn’t damage anyone besides me,” he stated. “It didn’t damage the county, as a result of they really had a great funding at a excessive rate of interest of cash.”
A number of Republicans who declined to talk to us on digital camera stated they didn’t purchase Herbster’s clarification. They stated he might’ve lower spending elsewhere, together with political donations.
In 2014, for instance, Herbster was late on greater than $36,000 in Richardson County property taxes. That 12 months, he gave Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Beau McCoy practically $2 million for his run.
We requested Herbster how he has discovered the cash to donate tens of millions to political candidates, together with former President Donald Trump, however to not pay his taxes on time.
“I’m at all times going to decide on folks first,” he stated. “I used to be going to do every thing doable once they requested me for assist. I suppose in all probability perhaps my No. 1 mistake in my life is it’s exhausting for me to say no.”
Herbster’s highest-profile opponent within the 2022 Republican main for governor, College of Nebraska Regent and hog farmer Jim Pillen, declined to remark.
So did State Sen. Brett Lindstrom of Omaha, who’s mulling a run. Gov. Pete Ricketts, who has criticized Herbster earlier than, additionally declined to weigh in.
Many Nebraska Republicans we spoke with stated they have been cautious of taking sides in a GOP main that Herbster might win.
Jane Kleeb, chairwoman of the Nebraska Democratic Get together, stated Republicans seem afraid of their base, which backs Trump and may like Herbster.
She stated Herbster’s cavalier angle about his taxes affords Democrats a gap in 2022, as soon as they get a succesful candidate within the race. None have but kicked off campaigns.
“You have got paid your property taxes late greater than 500 occasions,” she stated of Herbster. “That may be a sample. That may be a behavior. It’s an indicator that you just’re unfit for workplace. It implies that we are able to’t belief you.”
Herbster, informed of Kleeb’s criticism, smiled.
“There are a lot of individuals who did every thing completely, did it by the e book, and I applaud these people,” he stated. “However as a governor, I even have an enormous understanding for these individuals who couldn’t do it and couldn’t make it. And except you’ve walked in these footwear, you simply don’t get it.”