October 25, 2014

AG Bruning charges Sen. Council used campaign funds to gamble (AUDIO)

Attorney General Jon Bruning announces charges filed against state Sen. Brenda Council of Omaha

Attorney General Jon Bruning has filed two misdemeanor counts against state Sen. Brenda Council of Omaha for failing to report the use of campaign funds to gamble.

Bruning stated during a news conference in his office that subpoenaed campaign bank accounts and casino records indicate Council withdrew $63,052.56 in campaign funds to gamble at a casino in Kansas City, Kansas. The Attorney General said the investigation uncovered $36,166.32 in unreported/prohibited deposits were made between January of 2010 and July of this year as well.

“Since January of ’10, it’s very clear there’s a pattern of using campaign funds for gambling purposes,” according to Bruning.

Council is officially charged with two misdemeanor counts of abuse of public records for failing to report expenditures from her campaign account. State law requires that expenditures of campaign funds be disclosed on campaign finance reports. Council will reportedly plead guilty to the charges in Lancaster County District Court in Lincoln next week.

Bruning described Council as contrite when approached by his staff.

“I would say she was disappointed in herself, she was very contrite. She was very willing to work with us. She did not deny the facts as we alleged them,” according to Bruning.

Bruning acknowledged that his office could have filed felony charges against Council, but decided that the increased penalty would not be sufficient to justify a protracted court case against Council.

AUDIO: Attorney General Jon Bruning opens news conference on charges filed against Sen. Council. [2:40]

“I believe that charging her as a state senator, this would be a very public and difficult thing for her to deal with. And so, I believe these charges are appropriate and fair,” Bruning told reporters.