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State Sen. Brenda Council, running for re-election in northeast Omaha, attacked opponent Ernie Chambers on Sunday for filing a complaint of mail and wire fraud against her.
“My opponent dwells on an issue that has been settled,” Council said at a press conference in the city's historic North 24th Street business district. “I am proud of what I've been able to accomplish in my four short years in the Nebraska Legislature.”
Chambers, a former state senator, said later Sunday that “the issue is far from settled. She might wish that were the case, but it is one of the hottest issues being discussed in the community.”
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Omaha said on Friday that it was reviewing the complaint that Chambers filed against Council last week. The complaint accuses Council of violating federal laws when she used campaign funds to gamble and when she filed false campaign reports.
Last month Council pleaded guilty in Lancaster County Court to two misdemeanor counts of abusing public records after an investigation revealed she spent more than $63,000 of campaign money at casinos over a 2½-year period. She was fined $250 on each count.
Council said Sunday she continues to pay back the money she spent. She said she plans to be settled up by the Nov. 6 election.
“I have, from the onset, accepted full and sole responsibility,” Council said.
In a later interview, Chambers said that the most important issue in any campaign is who is the more capable representative.
“I can say truthfully I am not a crook,” Chambers said.
Council and Chambers are in a fight to represent northeast Omaha in the Legislature. Term limits forced Chambers out in 2008 after 38 years; Council replaced him.
During the press conference, Council touted some of her accomplishments as a lawmaker, including her work to secure a summer youth jobs program, provide access to healthful food in low-income areas and her successful effort to filibuster a controversial voter ID bill.
In the complaint, Chambers said that Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning gave Council a “pass” when he decided against filing felony charges.
Chambers has denied having political motivations in filing the complaint.
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