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Sen. Krist says Gov. Ricketts responsible for loss of 2,000 jobs and corporate headquarters of Cabela’s

Doomsday investor and friend donated $8 million to Ricketts and his family’s PACs while making $200 million profit

KEARNEY AND LA VISTA, NE – Sen. Bob Krist said today that Gov. Pete Ricketts should be held responsible for the loss of 2,000 jobs and the corporate headquarters of Cabela’s from Sidney, Nebraska.

“Gov. Ricketts had the opportunity to stop the catastrophic loss of 2,000 jobs and the closing of the corporate headquarters of Cabela’s in Sidney, Nebraska, population 6,800. Instead, Ricketts sat back and allowed a family friend and political supporter to mastermind a corporate raid on the iconic Nebraska family business,” Krist said.

In October of 2015, Paul Singer, known as an activist “doomsday investor” and his New York-based hedge fund, Elliott Management, purchased an 11 percent stake in Cabela’s saying it would press for a sale.

Public records show Paul Singer has donated a total of $7.9 million to Pete Ricketts and his family’s political action committees.

“The governor claimed that he had nothing to do with the sale and wasn’t involved with it – but in December of 2015, the governor offered to speak to Paul Singer and investors at Singer’s firm about the sale of Cabela’s to try and convince them about the ‘great opportunities’ in Nebraska,” Krist said.

Ricketts told the Omaha World-Herald; “I’m offering to talk to Elliott investors about the great opportunities they have here in Nebraska. I just want to have the opportunity to be able to talk to Elliott as they think about their decision to drive their investment in Cabela’s,” Ricketts said.

“Yet at last week’s State Fair debate, the governor claimed he “didn’t have anything to do with the sale because it was a private sector transaction” and when asked directly if he had any knowledge about the push for the sale of Cabela’s he claimed that “he didn’t know anything about it,” that “he was not on the board of either company” and “that he was not involved in any of that,” Ricketts said.

“Jim Cabela, who helped found the company with his brother, Dick Cabela, and Dick’s wife, Mary Cabela, fought to keep the business in Nebraska. They could have used the governor’s support,” Krist said.

“Which is it Governor? You owe the good people of Sidney an explanation. Who did you stand with? Did you stand with the people of Sidney, with the people of Nebraska, with those families who lost their jobs? Or, did you stand with Paul Singer, the ‘doomsday investor’? Did you stand with the Cabela’s family or your New York buddy who ended up making $200 million off of the sale of Cabela’s,” Krist said.

“At the end of the day, Pete Ricketts and his family got $8 million in political donations, Paul Singer got $200 million, and good, hard-working families in Sidney, Nebraska were devastated. I predict come November 6, those families and the community of Sidney will hold Pete Ricketts accountable for standing by and doing nothing,” Krist said.

Facts about the impact of Sidney losing Cabela’s:

● Cabela’s was by far Sidney’s leading employer with about 2,000 jobs. The company provided one-fourth of the community’s employment.

● “Every mom-and-pop shop would be affected. Grocery stores. Furniture stores. People who own small homes to rent.’’ It would be “an absolute disaster’’ if Cabela’s were to capsize in the overhaul demanded by Elliott Associates. Bruce Batt, president and chief executive officer at Points West Community Bank.

● New population estimates for July 2017 show that Cheyenne County lost nearly 400 residents over the previous year — nearly 4 percent of its population. The county’s new estimated population of 9,676 is its lowest in 25 years.

● In June 2015, four months before an activist investor announced a big stake in Cabela’s and said it would push for the company to sell itself, there were 60 homes on the market in Cheyenne County, where Sidney is located.

● In October 2017, after Bass Pro closed on the purchase of Cabela’s and said it would consolidate the combined companies’ headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, there were 133 homes for sale in the county. There were 135 active listings in the county last month.

● In October last year, the median number of days a house sat on the market was 124. In October 2014, when all was sunny at Cabela’s, it was just 64 days. Last month, it was 143 days.

● “There’s just going to be fewer people than houses, and some of them are going to be empty,” said Charles Nathanson, a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management who focuses on real estate. “The only way that’s going to be avoidable: You bring in some other business.”

● According to the Cheyenne County Assessor's Office, residential home and land values dropped 10 percent to 14 percent over the past year, that there seen a significant market value decrease in the past year and that the county has not seen a similar drop in property values for a long while.

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