Nebraska Senate Republican primary candidate Shane Osborn announced the endorsements of 54 economists from across the nation Tuesday, but the celebratory declaration was short-lived. One economist vehemently denied ever endorsing Osborn, and five others said the same when asked by the Omaha World-Herald.
According to Osborn’s website, 54 economists endorsed this statement:
Shane Osborn, former state treasurer of Nebraska and a leading candidate for the Republican nomination for Senate, has called for enactment of President Ronald Reagan’s Economic Bill of Rights. Unveiled 27 years ago, the proposal sought to protect four fundamental economic freedoms: the freedom to work, the freedom to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor, the freedom to own and control one’s property and the freedom to participate in a free market. Those freedoms are under assault today as never before. As such, Shane Osborn’s embrace of Ronald Reagan’s vision is a welcome return to an economic philosophy that is sound, moral and currently in short supply in our nation’s capital.
In the letter the Osborn campaign sent to economists, supporter and fellow economist Jim Carter asked recipients to “join us and other economists by signing the following statement in support of Shane’s embrace of President Reagan’s vision.”
A positive response was billed on Osborn’s website as an endorsement of Shane Osborn himself, which several signatories deny.
Gary Wolfram, the William Simon Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Hillsdale College, released a statement through Club for Growth that he did not endorse Osborn and never intended to. “Shane Osborn’s campaign never asked me to endorse their candidate and I don’t appreciate that his campaign is claiming I did,” he said. “I don’t take a position on primary campaigns and I want to make it clear that I’m not endorsing Shane Osborn or any candidate for the United States Senate.”
Meanwhile, others on the list added their voices of surprise. “Perhaps what [Osborn] means is that I may have given my support to some viewpoints that he shares,” Professor Peter Colwell told the Omaha World-Herald. “I wouldn’t know about this, because I do not know his views.” James Cover, a professor at the University of Alabama, said, “[I] did not realize it would be interpreted as my endorsing him,” since, as it is a primary, “his opponents may support the same principles.”
Of the eight professors the newspaper reached, five acknowledged endorsing Osborn, while one other considered it an “implicit” endorsement.
This latest issue surfaces as Osborn fends off an ethics allegation of another type: the revelation that a Navy memo exonerating him of wrongdoing in a 2001 incident in China was written by a friend who did not send it through the proper channels. As a result, the Department of Defense could not verify the legitimacy of the memo.
Osborn has threatened legal action against television stations that choose to air an attack ad on the subject from the 60 Plus Association, which condemns Osborn for participating in the creation of a fake Navy memo. The legal contention surrounds the argument that Osborn did not “create” the memo because he did not write it himself, and that it was produced as a result of his requesting a favor.