“Subpoenaed campaign bank account and casino records showed Senator Council withdrew more than $63,000 in campaign funds at various casinos between January 2010 and July 2012,” said Bruning. “The expenditures were not disclosed on her campaign finance reports as required by law. Senator Council has agreed to plead guilty to two counts of abuse of public records in Lancaster County District Court.”
State Sen. Brenda Council has apologized for misusing more than $60,000 in campaign donations at casinos and filing false reports to conceal it.
Attorney General Jon Bruning says Council agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of filing false campaign reports that omit the casino withdrawals and cash deposits.
In a statement, Council says she "made an error in judgment," and that she takes "full responsibility."
She says she's receiving professional treatment for a gambling addiction and will not "give up or quit fighting for the issues."
Her opponent, Ernie Chambers, a longtime foe of casino gambling in Nebraska, says he hopes people will see that if the addiction can bring down somebody with education, intelligence and a successful political career, it can do it to anybody.
Here is Council's official statement:
"I made an error in judgment and I take full responsibility for that error. My error was to borrow money from my campaign funds and failing to report that the money had been borrowed and failing to report the repayments. There was no malicious intent on my part. I borrowed the money with every intention to pay it back and have paid back the bulk of the money I borrowed. I am in the process of paying back the remaining amount. It will all be paid back.
I am truly sorry for my error and I apologize to my family, my contributors, my supporters and to the public. I am currently receiving professional treatment for a gambling addiction. I take full responsibility for my actions and I will not seek any special privileges. I also will not give up or quit fighting for the issues that are truly important to north Omaha - good jobs, strong schools, safe neighborhoods and increased investments in our community.
I will continue to meet and talk with members of the 11th District in my campaign for re-election. I have always and will continue to do what is in the best interest of my community, my district and my state."
Council is running for a second term representing northeast Omaha's District 11. She is facing a challenge from her predecessor, Ernie Chambers, who was the longest-serving member of the Nebraska Legislature.
He says he isn't even thinking about the campaign right now. "I've known her since she was a little girl. For me, this transcends this political contest that involves two people. What she is involved in -- is something that befalls thousands -- maybe hundreds of thousands of people in this country -- addiction to gambling."
Chambers was forced to leave office in 2009 after voters enacted term limits for lawmakers.