LINCOLN (KPTM) - Nebraska State Senator Brenda Council pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts involving misusing campaign funds Tuesday afternoon in a Lancaster County court.
A judge fined her $250 for each count for a total of a $500 fine.
After her sentencing, Council said, "We all fall down, and what I'm doing right now is getting back up."
Council has admitted to having gambling problems in the past. She signed a pledge in 2005 to stop gambling at Iowa casinos. Her more recent gambling was at a Kansas City casino.
Documents from Attorney General Jon Bruning's office show that withdrawals at casinos from her campaign fund date back to 2010. From 2010 to 2012, close to 200 withdrawal transactions were made. Over the years, the withdrawals added up to more than $63,000. She did, however, make more than 30 deposits adding up to nearly $36,000.
Council said she will reimburse the nearly $27,000 shortfall in the account.
Bruning released a statement after Council's sentencing. In it, he stated, "Senator Council knowingly filed false campaign finance statements. Today, Council's guilty plea help to ensure she is held accountable for her unlawful actions."
Voters in Council's district 11 in Omaha say they don't think the $500 fine is enough of a punishment. "That's ridiculous, a $500 fine? That's stupid. She should be behind bars and serve time like the everyday person," said voter Sally Reese. "I told my boss it's like me borrowing money from the store and paying you back each week. It's stealing, regardless, and it's not right," Reese continued.
Attorney Vince Powers spoke up to support Council Tuesday afternoon. "We all fight demons. Today, this year, the demon won. But, I'm positive Senator Council will win in the end," said Powers.
Council says she looks forward to moving forward and serving the state of Nebraska. She says she is receiving treatment for her gambling addiction.
Council is a first-term state senator from District 11 in Omaha. She is currently seeking re-election against long-time District 11 Senator Ernie Chambers, who left the seat in 2008 because of term limits.
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