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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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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