Jon Bruning

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Jon Bruning
31st Attorney General of Nebraska
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 8, 2015
Governor Mike Johanns
Dave Heineman
Preceded by Don Stenberg
Succeeded by Doug Peterson
Member of the Nebraska Senate
from the 3rd district
In office
January 8, 1997 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by Michael Avery
Succeeded by Ray Mossey
Personal details
Born (1969-04-30) April 30, 1969 (age 45)
Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.
Political party Republican
Alma mater University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Jon Bruning (born April 30, 1969) is an American politician who served as the 31st Attorney General of the state of Nebraska from 2003 to 2015. A Republican, he was a Member of the Nebraska State Legislature from 1996 until his resignation in 2002 following his election to the position of Attorney General.

Early life, education, and legal career[edit]

Bruning was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, a fifth generation Nebraskan, and graduated from Lincoln Southeast High School. After high school, Bruning went on to the University of Nebraska where he received a Bachelor's degree in 1990 with High Distinction. Bruning was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Innocents Society, a senior honor society at Nebraska that honors 13 seniors for leadership, scholarship and service. After completing his undergraduate studies, Bruning attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Law, where he received his Juris Doctor in 1994.

In 1995, Bruning married Deonne Niemack; the couple has two children, Lauren and Jack.[1]

Bruning served as general counsel for Vital Learning Corporation from 1995 to 1997.

Political career[edit]

State legislature[edit]

Bruning ran for the Senate's 3rd District of the Nebraska Legislature in 1996. He defeated incumbent Michael Avery 55%–44%.[2] He was the youngest member of the legislature. In 1998, he sponsored a bill that would extend loans to college students in order to encourage them to stay in the state.[3] He won re-election in 2000 unopposed.[4] By 2002, Nebraska was the last state to use only the electric chair for the death penalty. He sponsored legislation to legalize lethal injection.[5]

Attorney General[edit]

Bruning was elected Attorney General of the State of Nebraska in 2002 with 66% of the vote, becoming the youngest Attorney General in the country at the time, and the youngest in Nebraska history. He won re-election unopposed in 2006 and 2010.

In 2004, he worked with the Nebraska Legislature to create Nebraska’s Medicaid Fraud Unit.[6] The Medicaid Fraud Unit recovered more than $20 million in 2012 and nearly $68 million since 2004.[7]

In 2005, Bruning launched a criminal probe of University of Nebraska Regent David Hergert related to campaign finances.[8] In the same year, he charged a 20-year-old man with rape after his 14-year-old wife became pregnant.[9]

He served as President of the National Association of Attorneys General from 2009 to 2010.[10] He traveled to Iraq as President of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) and signed training agreement with Iraq Jurists Union.[11]

During a speech in August 2011, Bruning compared welfare recipients to raccoons. Bruning said his comment might have been "inartful" but that he was trying to make a point about spending cuts being necessary.[12][13][14][15]

In August 2011, the Omaha World-Herald reported that Bruning had purchased a lakeside house valued at $675,000 near the Platte River in partnership with two Nelnet executives, almost a year after he and his office had been accused of acting favorably toward the student loan company by not enforcing payment of a $1 million judgment awarded to the State of Nebraska when Nelnet was under fire for alleged improper business practices.[16]

In 2012, Bruning sued the federal government over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act with a 26 state coalition. His office led the legal challenge to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s provision regarding employer-paid health insurance requirements related to abortion.[17]

In 2013, Bruning was fined a $19,000 civil penalty by the Federal Election Commission for campaign finance violations during his 2012 Senate election effort.[18]

In late 2014, Bruning, together with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, filed a suit in the U.S. Supreme Court in which they asked that Colorado's Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in that state, be struck down. Bruning and Pruitt argued that the Colorado measure violated the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, since the U.S. Congress had enacted the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, which imposed a nationwide ban on marijuana.[19][20] In connection with the suit, Bruning declared that marijuana was a "gateway drug that is a detriment to society" and that "I don't want it to be a legal option for my children or your option or anyone's children in this state or in this country."[21]

Bruning left office as Attorney General with the inauguration of his successor, Doug Peterson, on January 8, 2015.[22]

Senate elections[edit]

Bruning was briefly a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2008[23] but he withdrew when Mike Johanns declared his candidacy. Johanns went on to win the election.

On November 5, 2010, Bruning announced he was exploring a run for the Senate seat held by incumbent Senator Ben Nelson.[24] On January 5, 2011, Bruning officially entered the race by filing papers to form a campaign committee with the Federal Elections Commission[25]

Bruning was endorsed by the Tea Party Express[26] and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.[27] Bruning has stated he believes life begins at conception, and has been endorsed by Nebraska Right to Life in each of his campaigns.[28] Bruning lost the Republican primary election to Deb Fischer, who went on to win the general election.

Electoral history[edit]

1996 Nebraska Legislature Election, State Senate District 3
Candidate Votes Percentage
Jon Bruning 6,361 55.32%
Michael T. Avery 5,105 44.4%
Nebraska Attorney General Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mike Meister 150,286 33.93%
Republican Jon Bruning 292,673 66.07%
Nebraska U.S. Senate Election 2012 - Republican Primary[29]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Deb Fischer 79,941 41.0%
Republican Jon Bruning 70,067 35.9%
Republican Don Stenberg 36,727 18.8%
Republican Pat Flynn 5,413 2.8%
Republican Spencer Zimmerman 1,601 0.8%
Republican Sharyn Elander 1,294 0.7%
Totals 195,043 100%

See also[edit]

Portal icon Conservatism portal


  1. ^ "Nebraska Attorney General, 2013". 2012-2013 Nebraska Blue Book. p. 437. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  2. ^ NE Legislature 03 Race – Nov 05, 1996. Our Campaigns. Retrieved on 2012-03-03.
  3. ^ 'Brain gain' bill dies. McCook Daily Gazette. April 8, 1998
  4. ^ NE State Senate 03 Race – Nov 07, 2000. Our Campaigns. Retrieved on 2012-03-03.
  5. ^ Nebraska becomes only state to rely solely on electric chair. Star-News. April 29, 2002
  6. ^ "Nebraska Revised Statute 68-943". Nebraska State Legislature. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Associated Press (15 January 2013). "Nebraska Medicaid Fraud Unit recoups $20 million". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  8. ^ Associated Press. "Bruning Launches Criminal Probe of Hergert". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  9. ^ Mabin, Butch. "Bruning Charges 22-year-old Man Married to 14-year-old Girl". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  10. ^ "Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning Elected NAAG President". National Association of Attorneys General. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  11. ^ "NAAG Signs Training Agreement with Iraq Jurists Union". National Association of Attorneys General. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ David Catanese (August 11, 2011). "Local TV scorches Bruning for raccoon reference". Politico. 
  14. ^ "Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning Regrets Comparing Welfare Recipients to Raccoons, Aide Says". Fox News Channel. 11 August 2011. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  15. ^ "Nebraska: Candidate Says He Regrets Welfare Analogy". The New York Times. The Associated Press. 10 August 2011. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  16. ^ "Bruning owns lake house with 2 Nelnet officials". August 28, 2011. 
  17. ^ O'Brien, Maggie (8 February 2012). "Bruning fights birth control rule". Omaha World Herald. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  18. ^ Cooper, Kent (May 16, 2013). "Email Trips Up Nebraska Attorney General, Agrees to $19,000 Penalty". Roll Call. Retrieved May 18, 2013. 
  19. ^ Duggan, Joe. "Jon Bruning files lawsuit over Colorado’s legalization of marijuana". Omaha World-Herald. 2014-12-18. Retrieved 2014-12-30.
  20. ^ Pilger, Lori. "Nebraska, Oklahoma sue over Colorado marijuana law". Lincoln Journal Star. 2014-12-18. Retrieved 2014-12-30.
  21. ^ Kelly, Bill. "Nebraska, Oklahoma Ask US Supreme Court To Block Colorado Pot Sales". NET. 2014-12-18. Retrieved 2015-01-03.
  22. ^ "Doug Peterson Sworn in as 32nd Attorney General of Nebraska". 8 January 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ Becker, Bernie (November 5, 2010). "Nebraska Attorney General Looking at Senate challenge". New York Times. 
  25. ^ Tysver, Robin (January 5, 2011). "Bruning makes Senate bid official". Omaha World-Herald. 
  26. ^ Catanese, David (May 11, 2011). "Tea Party Express brews Bruning for Nelson challenge". Politico. 
  27. ^ Jon Bruning for Senate – Bruning Endorsed by Mike Huckabee. (2011-05-25). Retrieved on 2012-03-03.
  28. ^ Jon Bruning for Senate – Protecting the Unborn. Retrieved on 2012-03-03.
  29. ^ "Official Report of the Board of State Canvassers of the State of Nebraska". Secretary of State of Nebraska. Retrieved June 17, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Nebraska Legislature
Preceded by
Michael Avery
Member of the Nebraska Legislature
from the 3rd district

Succeeded by
Ray Mossey
Legal offices
Preceded by
Don Stenberg
Attorney General of Nebraska
Succeeded by
Doug Peterson