Nebraska State Senator Brenda Council pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges related to her use of campaign cash at a Kansas casino. A Lancaster County judge then fined her $250 for each count plus $49 court costs.
"We all fall down and what I'm doing now is getting back up," said Council following sentencing. "I have admitted to myself and to everyone else that I have a gambling problem. I'm receiving treatment for that. Right now, I'm looking forward to continue to serve the great residents in the state of Nebraska."
Her friends who attended the court proceeding are predicting she will turn things around. "We judge in Nebraska by the totality of life," said Vince Powers. "Sometimes demons get the best of you. We all fight demons. Today and this year, the demon won. I'm positive Senator Council will win in the end.."
Brenda Council could have spent up to six months in jail. Instead Judge Pokorny had her pay a fine. Council paid it immediately after the hearing using a credit card.
She told the judge she intends to pay back the remaining campaign cash she gambled away.
An investigation by the Attorney General's office revealed that over a period of time, Council made 36 withdrawals from her campaign account for gambling. The withdrawals amounted to about $63,000. She deposited about $36,000 of the money back leaving about $26,000 unaccounted for.
The official charges were for abuse of public records since she did not reveal the withdrawals and deposits in her campaign filings with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission.
Months ago, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning received a tip from law enforcement. He examined casino video and bank records and found that Council spent a lot of time at the slots and tables at the Sac and Fox Casino in northeast Kansas.
Will North Omaha voters penalize Council for this at the ballot box?
Council is running for re-election. Her main opponent in November is former state senator Ernie Chambers, who lost his seat due to term limits.
In the May primary, Chambers beat her by 149 votes.