Editorial: Another casino gambling victim

What is the cost of tribal casino gambling in Oklahoma?

To Sen. Rick Brinkley, the cost is enormous.

Brinkley is a Republican senator representing Owasso. A former minister, Brinkley has had a short but remarkable career in the Oklahoma Senate. He was so popular, he was in line to become Senate Pro Tem in two years. That’s the top leadership position in the Senate.  For years, Brinkley led the Tulsa office of the Better Business Bureau, an organization dedicated to keeping business transactions above board and honest. Integrity is at the heart of the BBB’s mission statement.

The BBB fired Brinkley in April during the legislative session. Then it filed a civil lawsuit against Brinkely, alleging that he had stolen more than $1 million while leading the Tulsa office. Brinkley wrote a check from his campaign fund to the BBB and that initiated an investigation by the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. Brinkley settled that issue by forfeiting his entire campaign coffer (more than $81,000) to the state.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation launched a probe into Brinkley’s financial affairs. Brinkley resigned from Senate leadership and announced he would resign from his seat, effective December 31. The U.S. District Attorney has filed charges against him in federal court.

All this apparently was caused by gambling.

Everyone who knows Sen. Brinkley says he is a decent, God-fearing man. His actions in this affair don’t fit his reputation. But that is what gambling does in a culture – it chews up good people and destroys families and careers.

Rick Brinkley is not blameless in this mess but the explosion of Indian casinos in Oklahoma guarantees that he won’t be the last decent person to be thrown in the trash heap.