Charles Herbster of Nebraska paid property taxes late nearly 600 times
FALLS CITY, Neb. (KMTV) – Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster lives most of his time in the state in a $ 1.5 million condominium on the Omaha River or in a $ 300,000 house in his hometown of Falls.
He has spent much of the past two years flying on chartered planes with campaign surrogates and family members of former President Donald Trump. He gave millions to political candidates.
He runs agri-food businesses in several states, including Conklin Co., Minnesota and Missouri, and Herbster Angus Farms in Nebraska. He owns a $ 500,000 “guest house” in Kansas City.
He and some of his businesses also have a habit of paying property taxes late, sometimes years late. Here’s what 3 News Now investigators found in a quarter-century of six-state property records:
Herbster and his companies have been behind on property taxes nearly 600 times, according to tax payment records. No place has experienced more late payments than Home, Richardson County, Nebraska.
This is where Herbster grew up, and where he still owns and operates Herbster Angus Farms. Our report identified at least 29 properties that Herbster and its companies own there.
He and his private companies have paid their local property taxes late at least 529 times since the mid-1990s, according to Richardson County tax records.
The Richardson County Treasurer’s Office in Falls City has confirmed the late payments we have identified over the past decade and shown us where we can check the rest.
In May, the county treasurer confirmed our information that many local Herbster properties were in late payment as of 2018, which Herbster blamed on confusion following the death of his wife, Judy, in 2017.
Homeowners of approximately 600 of the 10,000 properties in Richardson County pay their taxes late, in any given year. That number topped 700 in the pandemic year of 2020.
Herbster claims he made a “conscious choice” to pay his property taxes late, claiming he did so to make up for cash flow problems after his family bought Conklin from its original owners in the years. 1990.
He was part of that argument when he made his official campaign announcement in April. He already knew 3 News Now was digging into his past payments. He remembers that his wife had two jobs at the time.
He now says the cash flow problems lasted for at least two decades: “It was tough most of the 29 years we owned the business until the last five to seven years.
He said he had to decide over the course of several of those years whether to keep 20,000 Conklin distributors and his employees paid on time or pay his property taxes late.
“I didn’t want to either, but I can tell you it was an easy decision for me,” he said.
Jon Cannon, executive director of the Nebraska Association of County Officials, says his records show that less than one in 10 properties in Nebraska have late property tax payments in any given year.
Only about 2% wait so long that they risk more than a penalty. These properties are sold for taxes, which means that an investor can pay the principal of the taxes owed and redeem the property after three years.
Landowners who pay before their properties are put up for tax sale pay 14% interest. Herbster said he had no choice but to pay, that he “couldn’t borrow money from the bank”.
“Today I can sit here and say guess what, we almost went bankrupt three times,” he said. “But I’m proud to say today that Conklin is successful.”
Despite interest collected from landowners and investors, local governments and school districts face challenges when large landowners pay late, Cannon said.
“The political subdivisions, when they establish their budget, they say that here is the value that they have to take, that is going to leave a small hole in their budget,” he said.
Herbster and his businesses have also paid late in other states, including property taxes in Virginia, Iowa and at a Kansas City house he says he’s only spent a few nights since his wife’s death.
He almost lost two properties in Colorado for paying his 2008 property taxes years late. A buyer’s unfinished papers during a tax sale allowed him to keep both plots by paying his taxes in 2013.
One place Herbster has never been late is on its 11e top floor condo with view of the Bob Kerrey pedestrian bridge. Conklin, Herbster’s best-known company, owns the condo and pays his taxes on time.
Douglas County records show Conklin paid a range of taxes on the condo, from $ 23,193.80 in 2015 to $ 31,019.80 in 2020.
Herbster said he wouldn’t change the way he paid his taxes. He stressed the importance of keeping the business running. And he said he promised his grandmother that he would never sell land.
“It didn’t really hurt anyone except me,” he said. “It didn’t hurt the county because they actually had a good investment at a high interest rate.”
Several Republicans who refused to speak to us on camera said they did not believe Herbster’s explanations. They said he could have cut spending elsewhere, including political donations.
In 2014, for example, Herbster was behind more than $ 36,000 in Richardson County property taxes. That year, he gave Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Beau McCoy nearly $ 2 million for his run.
We asked Herbster how he found the money to give millions to political candidates, including former President Donald Trump, but not to pay his taxes on time.
“I will always choose people first,” he said. “I was going to do my best when they asked me for help. I guess my # 1 mistake in my life is probably that it’s hard for me to say no.
Herbster’s most prominent opponent in the 2022 Republican primary for governor, University of Nebraska regent and hog farmer Jim Pillen, declined to comment.
The same goes for State Senator Brett Lindstrom of Omaha, who is considering a run. Governor Pete Ricketts, who has previously criticized Herbster, also declined to comment.
Many Nebraska Republicans we spoke with said they were hesitant to take sides in a GOP primary that Herbster could win.
Jane Kleeb, president of the Democratic Party of Nebraska, said Republicans appeared to be afraid of their base, which supports Trump and might like Herbster.
She said Herbster’s cavalier attitude about her taxes gives Democrats an opening in 2022, once they have a competent candidate in the race. None have yet launched a campaign.
“You’ve paid your property taxes over 500 times overdue,” she said of Herbster. ” It’s a model. It’s a habit. It is an indicator that you are unfit for the office. It means we cannot trust you.
Herbster, aware of Kleeb’s criticisms, smiled.
“There are a lot of people who have done everything perfectly, have done it right, and I applaud those people,” he said. “But as governor, I also have a great understanding for people who couldn’t and couldn’t do it. And unless you’ve been walking in these shoes, you just don’t understand. “
Watch over 3 News Now Interview of Investigator Aaron Sanderford with Herbster.
Extended interview: Charles Herbster of Nebraska paid property taxes late nearly 600 times
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