By Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog
OMAHA — One of the leading voices in the Unicameral doubts that State Sen. Brenda Council will ever face the wrath of her fellow lawmakers.
Sen. Bill Avery, Chairman of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, tells Nebraska Watchdog that if Council is re-elected, despite her legal problems, its “unlikely” she would be impeached.
Accused of pouring $63,000 in campaign contributions into casino slot machines and table games, Council is due in Lancaster County District Court at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday where she is expected to plead guilty to two misdemeanors— filing false reports to hide the gambling.
Council is locked in a tough re-election fight with Ernie Chambers, the man who held the District 11 seat in north Omaha for nearly 40 years before he was forced out by term limits in 2009.
If Chambers wins, impeachment is moot.
But if Council wins, lawmakers have a decision to make. Do they try to force her out of office?
If so, it opens up several key political questions for Republican Gov. Dave Heineman, who would appoint her successor.
- Would Heineman appoint Chambers?
- Would Heineman appoint a Republican to represent the overwhelmingly Democratic district?
- If so, would that Republican be Susan Smith, who is waging a long shot write-in campaign against Chambers and Council?
Avery said those are questions that will never be answered.
Avery said impeachment is unlikely because it’s a “drastic action”, adding that Council is liked by her fellow lawmakers.
“She is not unpopular among her colleagues,” Avery said.
State Sen. Heath Mello, who represents District 5 in south Omaha and publicly supported Council over the weekend, agrees.
“I think Senator Council is respected in the Legislature, “said Mello, who added that he hasn’t thought about the possibility of impeachment.
The last impeachment in 2006 did not involve a state lawmaker.
University of Nebraska Regent David Hergert, a western Nebraska businessman, was never charged with a crime, but did admit to violating state campaign laws and paid a $33, 512 fine.
After refusing to resign, he was impeached by a vote of 25-22 and ordered to stand trial before the Nebraska Supreme Court where he was found guilty and forced out of office.
Contact Joe Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org
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