Former State Senator Ernie Chambers has filed a complaint with the United States Attorney’s office over how the Attorney General handled the Brenda Council case.
Chambers is challenging Council’s bid for re-election to her legislative seat in Omaha; the 11th District. Chambers previously held the seat until forced out by term limits.
Chambers says Council should have been charged with more than a misdemeanor for using campaign cash to gamble.
AUDIO: Former state Sen. Ernie Chambers [:20]
“There is no way that the Attorney General, ethically, as a lawyer and the state’s chief law enforcement officer could charge her with two misdemeanors pursuant to an unrelated general statute dealing with abuse of public records,” Chambers tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
The case has already worked its way through the courts. Council pleaded guilty to failing to report the use of campaign funds to gamble in Lancaster County District Court in Lincoln. She was fined $250 on each count, plus ordered to pay court costs.
Campaign bank accounts and casino records subpoenaed by the Attorney General’s office 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.
Council was 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.
Attorney General Jon Bruning’s office released a written statement.
“Senator Council knowingly filed false campaign finance statements. Today’s guilty plea helps to ensure she is held accountable for her unlawful actions.”
Chambers charges the Attorney General gave Council a break he wouldn’t extend to others.
AUDIO: Former Sen. Chambers [:20]
“There are people who’ve done less serious things than Sen. Council, six felonies, and they did hard time in prison,” according to Chambers. “Not only that would indicate a double standard in general, but it would make it difficult to prosecute anybody as they should be for violating the campaign laws.”
Chambers suggest Bruning might be conspiring with Gov. Dave Heineman in the case, hoping that the legislature will impeach Council if re-elected, clearing the way for the governor to appoint her successor.
Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this report.