Some secret cash is flowing into the Nebraska governor's race.
An Iowa-based group has put $49,000 behind Republican Beau McCoy this week, putting up a television advertisement that touts the Elkhorn state senator as a tax-cut candidate.
American Future Fund is a nonprofit group that is allowed to keep its donors anonymous.
McCoy, whose campaign has been funded almost entirely by a wealthy Falls City businessman, said Friday he did not know who paid for the advertisement.
“I was as surprised as anybody to see it,” he said.
McCoy is one of five Republicans seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination. A sixth is likely. Attorney General Jon Bruning has said he is “strongly considering” a run, and all indications are that he will jump into the race soon.
The Republican who wins the May 13 primary will face Democrat Chuck Hassebrook in the fall election.
McCoy has gotten considerable financial backing from Charles Herbster, a Falls City rancher who also owns a manufacturing company in Kansas City called the Conklin Company.
Herbster launched a short-lived gubernatorial campaign last year, but dropped out due to his wife's illness. At the time, he donated about $860,000 to McCoy's campaign.
Since then, several people employed by Herbster have donated a total of $113,000 to McCoy's campaign. For example, James Hysong, who is the chief financial officer of Conklin, contributed $40,000.
Overall, McCoy has brought in about $1 million, with nearly all of it coming from Herbster and people connected to him. However, McCoy said Herbster did not donate money to the American Future Fund, which bought the pro-McCoy ad.
Herbster did not return a telephone call Friday.
American Future Fund has been around since 2007. In past years, it has been a major player in presidential politics, spending more than $25 million in 2012 in support of Republicans.
While its individual donors do not have to be reported, the group has been linked by some to Charles and David Koch, billionaires who have spent millions in recent elections on television advertisements supporting Republicans and criticizing Democrats.
Open Secrets, a nonprofit group that tracks campaign financial reports, reported that two groups with ties to the Koch brothers donated about 92 percent of the American Future Fund's revenue in 2012, based on tax forms filed with the IRS.
In the Nebraska television ad, the American Future Fund hails McCoy as one of Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman's “closest allies” in the Nebraska Legislature.
Specifically, the ad noted that McCoy introduced Heineman's controversial tax bill last year that sought to eliminate or dramatically reduce income taxes by expanding the state's sales tax base. It was scrapped amid sharp criticism from manufacturers and farmers, who objected to provisions in the bill that would have eliminated current tax exemptions for farm equipment and parts used. McCoy has said the bill was an attempt to start a discussion on tax reform.