Elections Nebraska Politics NEGOP

Suzanne Geist is Not Qualified to be Mayor

There are plenty of reasons to oppose Suzanne Geist for mayor of Lincoln, from her push to repeal background checks and training for guns and full repeal of Lincoln’s firearm ordinances, to her “lie to women” bill that passed into law and now requires doctors to give pregnant people bad information that could kill them when they get abortions.

For today, though, we want to focus on a more basic reason to oppose Geist: she is simply not qualified to run a city. Geist grew up with every advantage, and today lives in a home valued at about 2-3 times the median home price in Lincoln. She might have used her advantage to do so much good in the world. Instead, she dabbled in vanity MLM work before using vast sums of Ricketts money to beat a lifelong public servant and war hero in her run for state senator, then used her newly acquired stature to start a failed news site. Nothing in her limited experience seems to have resulted in empathy for working families or any ideas for civic improvement. Let’s take a quick look at Geist’s work background and the kind of qualifications she seems to think position her to lead our Capitol City.

Geist’s run for the legislature was bankrolled by Pete Ricketts, who likely came to be aware of Geist due to the fact that her husband is a financial manager for rich people. Prior to that run for office, very little in Geist’s background would flag her as a person with any professional experience or other credentials for office.

Despite the fact that the Omaha World Herald described Geist as running “a Lincoln company that sells clothing,” according to her LinkedIn account, Geist’s career prior to Ricketts plucking her from the ether of her $700,000+ East Lincoln home mainly consisted of working as a “style consultant” for two companies, CAbi and J. Hilburn.

Geist's LinkedIn page
Geist’s LinkedIn page.

Both of these companies are MLMs (multilevel marketing companies)–or as they called them back in the day, pyramid scams. They work by suckering people to buy expensive inventories of their product (CAbi requires the purchase of starter inventories of a minimum of $1,000 and up to $6,500) and to directly sell the product to friends and acquaintances. When this becomes an untenable way of making money, the person often then turns to recruiting additional dupes to be “style consultants” to earn commissions off of those sales.

MLMs are notorious for exploiting women without much career opportunity, and the majority of people who get involved with them end up being either a dupe, an exploiter who has climbed the pyramid by recruiting other dupes, or at a minimum someone who obnoxiously pushes their essential oils or protein powders onto friends and family. What about this experience–which she is running on, not against–foretells wise leadership?

“Honors and awards” listed on Geist’s campaign website.

Geist lists four “honors and awards” on her web site. The last two–“Emerging Leaders Program” and “Darden University State Legislative Leaders Foundation”–are actually the same item: the Emerging Leaders program is run by what Geist is calling the Darden University State Legislative Leaders Foundation, except there is no Darden University. The State Legislative Leaders Foundation is hosted at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. One would assume that an attendee at the four-day conference in 2018, which was held on the historic University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, would be aware that she was at the University of Virginia–founded by Thomas Jefferson for flip’s sake–and not at a place called “Darden University.” But apparently this was not the case, as she has recorded it this way more than once.

(And as for the Council of State Governments–you are automatically a member of that organization if you are a government official.)

To be fair, Geist has also worked in her field of training. Kind of.

In late 2021, Geist, who apparently has a degree in journalism, became the CEO of a new media empire in Nebraska called Sunrise News. Except it turned out that her business partner, Fletcher Reel, had previously pled guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor and “annoying and molesting a minor”, charges that stemmed from his kissing, harassing, and groping a student when he was a high school teacher in California. We assume Geist did not knowingly partner with a sex pest convicted of targeting his minor student. Sadly, then, CEO Geist’s investigative journalism skills apparently failed to reveal this background and it was us here at Seeing Red Nebraska who had to point it out.

The media site failed immediately after its launch.

We don’t believe that a lack of professional experience per se is disqualifying for office. We would love to see a parent who left the workforce to raise kids run for office, and we would expect that person to have a lot of other experience to show for themselves: ideas for childcare, supporting working parents, improving our schools, building affordable family housing, improving health and nutrition for Lincoln’s kids. We would want to see what lessons they learned from the hustle–how to end the exploitation of parents looking for side gigs, what community resources would help families dependent on one income.

Geist offers none of this. Her candidacy is not the candidacy of a person who built community while depending on wages. It’s just her latest questionable vanity pursuit bankrolled by rich men.