Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale is investigating the voter registration of MECA board member Jamie Gutierrez Mora.
Gutierrez Mora, who was appointed to the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority Board in March, has been under scrutiny about the address she listed as her home on her résumé and on her Douglas County voter registration forms, filed Dec. 28.
Gutierrez Mora said she lived in a South Omaha rental property owned by her husband.
But Omaha City Attorney Paul Kratz concluded in his own investigation that Gutierrez Mora actually lives in a Bellevue home that she has owned for several years. Kratz said that means Gutierrez Mora does not meet the MECA requirement that its board members be “resident electors” of Douglas County.
Kratz said his investigation was prompted by a World-Herald article raising questions about her residency.
Gale said Pat McPherson of Omaha filed the written complaint with the Secretary of State's Office.
“My office has been and will continue to gather material from the news media, public sources and from other sources, with a primary focus on whether Ms. Gutierrez met the requirements of residency in Douglas County on Dec. 28, 2012, the date she filed her voter registration under oath with the Douglas County Election Commission,” Gale said in a statement.
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert said the investigation was a “high priority” for Gale.
She said Gale told her that Kratz had written “an excellent legal opinion and that he concurred,” though he would do his own research.
Gutierrez Mora is the owner of a South Omaha-based janitorial business, Midwest Maintenance Co., that holds one of MECA's largest contracts. She has declined to publicly discuss where she lives and did not return a call for comment Friday.
Stothert plans to meet Monday with Gutierrez Mora.
The mayor said she is troubled by the idea that Gutierrez Mora had not been truthful about where she lives but would reserve judgment on the issue until the two meet.
Stothert said she disagrees with Council President Pete Festersen's suggestion to revise residency rules for MECA board members.
“I do not agree with changing eligibility for one person,” she said, adding that she didn't like the idea of expanding eligibility to include people from outside Douglas County.
“The citizens of Omaha voted on a ballot to form MECA, to build the CenturyLink Center, not the citizens of Sarpy County,” she said.
MECA board members can be removed by the mayor and the City Council, but five of seven council members said this week that they back Gutierrez Mora and want to see the residency rules changed.
The MECA board can also act independently to remove board members. Board Chairman John Lund said this week that his group will not take action until the city has come to a formal conclusion on the matter.
When she registered to vote in Douglas County, Gutierrez Mora signed an oath that states: “I live in the State of Nebraska at the address provided in this application.”
The oath says applicants who knowingly provide false information are guilty of election falsification, a felony.