Bob Kerrey sells his Omaha house -
Published Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 9:36 am
Bob Kerrey sells his Omaha house

WASHINGTON — Looks like Bob Kerrey might be crashing on his sister's couch the next time he visits Omaha.

Kerrey has sold the house he bought in the city last year while running for Nebraska's open U.S. Senate seat.

His purchase of the house near Memorial Park came in the middle of a campaign dogged by perceptions that Kerrey had parachuted back into the state merely for the chance to succeed Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., who was retiring.

During the campaign, Kerrey and his supporters responded to carpetbagger suggestions by citing his deep, longstanding Nebraska ties that included four years as governor, businesses he owns in the state and many relatives who live there. They also pointed to his purchase of the Omaha house as evidence of his future commitment to the state.

But after losing the election, taking a new job and an illness in his wife's family, the man frequently described as “Cosmic Bob” for his outside-the-box decisions has opted to sell the property.

Kerrey represented Nebraska for two terms in the Senate before leaving office in early 2001 and moving to New York to become president of the New School.

Just before the candidate filing deadline in Nebraska last February, Kerrey flew to Omaha from New York and registered to vote in Douglas County, initially using his sister's house as his address.

The next day he changed his official residence to a guest home in west Omaha. A few months after that he purchased the one-and-a-half-story, three-bedroom house west of Memorial Park for $220,000.

Kerrey's wife and son moved to Nebraska but could not live in the house due to an extensive renovation project.

Those renovations were ongoing as recently as May and appeared to have substantially increased the value of the house, which sold a few weeks ago for $395,000.

It was not clear who purchased the house. The buyer was listed as a trust and Omaha attorney Robert Freeman listed as the trustee.

The address listed for the trust is the same Highland Park, Ill., address used by the Rebecca Susan Buffett Foundation.

That's the family foundation of Pamela Bartling Buffett, widow of Omaha investor Warren Buffett's cousin. She is the lead donor in a successful campaign to raise $160 million toward the new $370 million UNMC cancer center.

She's also a Kerrey supporter who donated $2,500 to his Senate campaign last year. Freeman is her attorney.

Kerrey and Pamela Buffett both declined to comment on the house sale. Freeman could not be reached.

A Democrat, Kerrey lost his Senate bid to Republican Deb Fischer by a wide margin. After his election night concession speech, Kerrey said “I'm not leaving Nebraska” but was vague about his future plans.

Within a few days, Kerrey had moved back to New York with his wife and son. He said at the time that his wife needed to be close to her sister, who was ill.

In April, Kerrey sent out a fundraising appeal on behalf of then-Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle, who lost his re-election bid in May.

Kerrey said then that he was splitting his time between New York and Omaha and that he planned to vote for Suttle by absentee ballot.

Douglas County Election Commissioner Dave Phipps said Monday that records show Kerrey has not cast a ballot since last November's general election.

Kerrey's name actually popped onto the election commission's radar recently. The commission was notified when Kerrey filled out a national form changing his address from Omaha to New York.

That triggered a mailing from Phipps' office asking Kerrey whether he should be removed from the county's voter rolls.

The election office will await his response.

World-Herald staff writer Steve Jordon contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: Joseph Morton    |  

Joe is The World-Herald's Washington, D.C., bureau, covering national political developments that matter most to Midlanders.

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