Card Trick

Former Nebraska senator David Karnes may have been out of the game for nine years, but as a corporate lobbyist, he still wants to deal.

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For former Sen. David Karnes, giving up the perks of office must have been hard — maybe too hard. The Nebraska Republican lost to Democrat Bob Kerrey back in 1988, after serving a one-and-a-half-year term when Sen. Edward Zorinsky died. But Karnes, now a lobbyist for the Omaha-based Kutak Rock lobbying firm, still has a perhaps unhealthy attachment to his gold-embossed Senate business cards.

Recently, before handing the above card to a congressional staffer, Karnes took the time to scribble down his Kutak Rock office number. It was a good thing, too, because the phone number printed on the card actually rings Bob Kerrey’s office.

When we asked Kerrey’s receptionist if she knew who David Karnes was, she said no. She did say, however, that Kerrey receives calls for a man by that name “about once a week.”

Karnes denies that he regularly distributes his expired senatorial card. He told Mother Jones: “I have signed cards when people want autographs, as collector’s items.” He says his current business cards, for Kutak Rock, don’t mention his Senate tenure, but that his office stationery does describe him as a retired lawmaker.

But while using his old card might open a few doors (after all, how many people can name the second senator from Nebraska?), it could get him into trouble. Senate ethics rules and federal statutes prohibit the unauthorized use of U.S. Senate letterhead or the Great Seal of the United States.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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