Deb Fischer's three sons all have been convicted at least once of drunken driving, and one has three DUI convictions.
Adam, Morgan and Luke Fischer live together on Sunny Slope Ranch in Cherry County and now run most of its day-to-day operations. All their DUI convictions occurred in Cherry County.
“No comment,” U.S. Senate candidate Deb Fischer said when asked about her sons' legal troubles. “Our sons are private citizens. They aren't running for any public office.”
Her middle son has gotten into the most trouble.
Morgan Fischer, 35, was pulled over by a Nebraska state trooper May 25, 2011, after failing to use a turn signal on a highway south of Valentine, court records show.
Morgan Fischer had already been convicted of two DUIs. A third conviction, if prosecuted as a felony, could have landed him in jail for at least a year.
During the stop, Fischer failed field sobriety tests. Then things appeared to get worse: During a routine search for weapons, the trooper found $1,900 in Fischer's front shirt pocket.
“At that time, Fischer attempted to bribe Trooper Nilson and stated that Trooper Nilson could just put the money in his pocket and let him go home,” says the patrol report narrative. “Trooper Nilson informed Fischer that he was not going to do that.”
Morgan Fischer wasn't charged with attempted bribery.
The prosecutor, Brown County Attorney David Streich, said there was scant evidence Fischer knew what he was doing.
“We see a lot of drunk people do stupid things,” Streich said. “You weigh if it's a sincere effort to bribe ... and I decided not to charge it because it wasn't a sincere effort.”
Clarence Mock, a longtime Omaha-area defense lawyer, backed up Streich's decision, saying actual intent to bribe is extremely difficult to prove in cases where the offender is intoxicated. Both Streich and Mock said they had participated in cases where bribery charges either weren't filed or were eventually dropped, for that reason.
Morgan Fischer also avoided significant jail time for the DUI. Streich allowed Fischer to plead guilty to a second DUI offense, a misdemeanor that generally brings a short jail sentence. Morgan Fischer served 10 days in jail and lost his license for a year, according to court records.
By contrast, the offense he was arrested for — a third DUI with blood-alcohol content of twice the legal limit — carries a penalty of one to five years in jail.
Streich prosecuted the case because Cherry County Attorney Eric Scott recused himself.
Streich said he almost always knocks down a third DUI “high offense,” in which the defendant is far over the legal alcohol limit. He said he showed Fischer additional leniency because he voluntarily agreed to enter alcohol rehab.
“The treatment that Morgan got in this case was absolutely consistent with how I treat every case,” Streich said, noting that the only difference was the extra benefit he gave Fischer because he voluntarily checked himself into rehab. “There was no influence exerted on this office by anyone in the Fischer family.”
Luke Fischer, 30, was convicted of a DUI in 2006. In August 2011 he was convicted of leaving the scene of an accident and was ordered to pay $3,728 in restitution and fines. As a part of his probation in that case, he had an interlock device installed in his vehicle for two months, requiring him to prove he was sober before he could drive.
Adam Fischer, 37, was convicted of a DUI in 2009. That year, in a separate case, he was ticketed for having an open alcohol container. In 1997 he was arrested on suspicion of DUI in Lancaster County but pleaded guilty to a lesser offense.