Suzanne Geist is running for mayor of Lincoln. We have previously covered the source of her family’s money as well as her surprisingly threadbare professional experience–mainly selling clothes for MLMs–as well as her partnering with a man who was convicted of groping and sexually pestering one of his high school students. We see nothing in her record to indicate she has the experience or prudence required to run our state’s capitol city.
Today, we want to take a closer look at her record as state senator–a position she recently and abruptly resigned from in order to focus on the mayoral run. Among other things, Geist has a record of supporting legislation that would remove municipal control and give it over to the state government–a strange impulse for someone running for city government.
In 2016, despite Geist’s lack of professional or civic qualifications that one would expect to see in a state senatorial candidate, then-governor Pete Ricketts bankrolled Suzanne Geist’s campaign for state legislature, representing east Lincoln. He similarly bankrolled her re-election campaign, and has directly donated $100,000 to her run for mayor. Geist’s husband, a financial manager who serves “high net worth clients,” is on the board of directors of Pete Ricketts’s Platte Institute, which advances legislation that defunds government.
Geist’s legislative record looks like what you would expect from someone funded by Ricketts. We will highlight here some of the bills that Geist sponsored or co-sponsored in her time at the Unicameral. We believe a picture emerges of a candidate who is not guided by public welfare or sound judgment, but by the highly partisan interests of wealthy donors–including weakening local democracy when the governor’s interests conflicted with Lincoln’s.
Children and Education
2021 and 2023: Geist co-sponsored bills that will allow wealthy donors to wipe out up to 50% of their state income tax by donating that amount of money to private schools. In Lincoln, this would mean money donated to Pius could be deducted from state funds that would go to LPS.
2021: Geist sponsored a bill that would allow authorities to incarcerate children as young as 14 in some cases or 12 in others before they are given a judicial hearing, including in cases when the officer believes the child to pose a risk only to property. Senator Patty Pansing Brooks commented at the hearing that many children in the circumstances addressed by the bill are victims of trafficking and neglect, and that a bipartisan group of legislators had worked to keep these children out of incarceration after some children as young as 5 and 9 had been restrained with handcuffs that couldn’t even stay on their small wrists. She expressed dismay that Geist sought to undo all of this work with a bill that would again give wide discretion to individual officers to incarcerate children.
Geist has sponsored or co-sponsored a number of bills that would curtail a woman’s right to an abortion or that add obligatory misinformation or humiliation into the medical decision-making process.
2017: Geist cosponsors LB46, which created “Choose Life” license plates. Opponents objected to the state implicitly endorsing a position on abortion, and to the fact that the proceeds, which went to efforts to stop child abuse, conflated abortion and child abuse.
2019: Geist co-sponsors what opponents called the Lie to Women Act, which required health providers to present medically false information to women seeking a medication abortion. The bill, which Ricketts signed into law, forces doctors to tell women that it is possible to “reverse” an abortion after taking the two-pill abortion regimen.
2021-2023: Geist signs on as co-sponsor of two so-called “heartbeat” bills, which require women in early pregnancy to be given a medically unnecessary ultrasound and outlaws abortion if a “heartbeat” is detected. Medical professionals have explained that the electrical impulse being described as a heartbeat in early pregnancy is not produced by a heart.
2022: Geist co-signs a bill that would automatically ban abortion in Nebraska upon the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
2022: Geist proposes LB1086, which outlaws abortion pills after seven weeks gestation. The bill would outlaw sending the medication to women by mail. It also creates an extensive list of medically unnecessary requirements for doctors prescribing the pill, including requiring that doctors test the women for blood type and intervene with injections if they are Rh negative for the sake of any future pregnancies. Doctors are also required under the bill to submit extensive data on women seeking the pill.
2017: Geist co-signs the NRA’s priority bill, firearm preemption, which would have wiped out all local firearm ordinances and prevented cities from passing future ones. In Lincoln, for example, this would include ordinances currently in place against stalkers owning guns. This bill would remove local democracy from the city she hopes to lead.
2017: Geist co-signs a bill that will add conceal carry permit information to the short list of records that are kept secret by the state and not made available to the media or through public records requests. This bill makes it impossible for the public to learn how often concealed carry permit holders are implicated in shootings, and therefore how concealed carry impacts gun violence.
2021: Geist co-sponsors a bill that will double the duration of a concealed carry permit, requiring people who carry guns in public to undergo a background check only every 10 years instead of 5.
2021: Geist co-sponsors a bill that expands the conditions under which a person can legally kill someone, including if someone enters your motor vehicle without legal authority.
Medicine and Public Health
2017: After Pete Ricketts ordered illegal lethal injection drugs from India, Geist signs onto the bill that keeps the provider of lethal injection drugs secret.
2022: Geist co-sponsors a bill that would prevent a county board of health from issuing directed health measures without approval of the state board of health. In other words, in a public health crisis, Lincoln would not be able to work with the county health board to pass health measures unless the governor’s agency says it’s okay.
2022: Geist signs on to a bill that says “no medical practitioner, health care institution, or health care payer should be compelled to participate in or pay for any medical procedure or prescribe or pay for any medication, which such person or entity objects to on the basis of conscience.” So if your pharmacist or insurance company or doctor or phlebotomist doesn’t personally like whatever health care you’re after, they can just refuse to do their jobs. Not just abortion, but birth control pills, fertility treatments, hormone treatments, and viagra–whether you can actually receive and fill a prescription will be dependent on whether every person involved personally approves of your treatment.
2023: While we are focusing on bills Suzanne Geist sponsored or co-sponsored in this article, it is also worth noting here that one of the last votes Geist made in the legislature before resigning was to advance LB574. LB574 prohibits parents and doctors from following best medical practices as they deem them appropriate for the treatment of minors by categorically banning gender-affirming treatment methods regardless of medical findings and parental consent.
2021: Geist signs on to a resolution–not a bill–by Mike Groene that asserts that the signees will protect the Constitution against the federal government. The resolution includes a jumble of far-right grievances, including claims that the federal government is punishing people for religion and sexual mores and might be imposing “vaccine passports.”
2022: Co-sponsors bill that would reduce the amount of time allowed for early voting and would forbid anyone from delivering ballots for more than two people.
Suzanne Geist’s legislative record shows us her priorities in government. Those priorities include chipping away at voter access, public education, public safety, and–most baffling of all for someone who wants to be mayor–at local democracy. Her track record as a legislator is that of someone with little relevant experience or perspective who takes marching orders from wealthy extremist donors. Nothing in her background indicates that she has the wisdom, empathy, or independence that Lincoln deserves in a mayor.