LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Lincoln business lobbyist and Republican operative won confirmation to Nebraska’s state health board on Wednesday despite criticism from a handful of Democratic lawmakers.
Senators voted 37-7 to confirm Bud Synhorst to the state Board of Health. The board sets rules for a variety of health care professions, including doctors and nurses, and regulates the people who work in those fields.
Synhorst is a former Nebraska Republican Party executive director who now serves as president of the Lincoln Independent Business Association, a conservative-leaning group with members that were openly critical of the city’s coronavirus mask mandate. He was appointed by Gov. Pete Ricketts, a fellow Republican.
As the business group’s president, Synhorst voiced concerns after Lincoln city officials shuttered two bars for violating the mandate. He also was a campaign operative for Republicans seeking office in Nebraska’s officially nonpartisan Legislature.
Critics argued that many state boards lack diversity and said Ricketts could have chosen someone other than Synhorst, who is white, to represent minority concerns. They also argued that Synhorst already serves on a state nominating board for judges, which they said could run afoul of a constitutional provision that bars people from working in different branches of government at the same time.
Some GOP senators defended Synhorst, vouched for his character and said he was being criticized because he’s a Republican.