Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said he will return $2,690 in campaign donations made by Teddy Mitchell, an Oklahoma City resident indicted last month on gambling charges.
Whetsel, who is seeking re-election in November, said he has not accepted donations from Mitchell since he learned in 2010 that Mitchell may be involved in a high-stakes gambling operation.
“I already have a check written to return that money, I just have to take it to his attorney’s office,” Whetsel said Wednesday. “It will probably be tomorrow; we just got the check in this last week and I’ve been swamped.”
Whetsel said it is his policy to return donations from people who have been indicted or charged with a crime.
Campaign finance records indicate Mitchell contributed to the sheriff’s re-election campaign twice in 2009 and again in May 2010.
Mitchell, 58, was accused Sept. 19 in an 81-count indictment of hosting illegal poker games at his Oklahoma City home as well as taking bets on sporting events. Two of his sons, six other men and a Costa Rican company also were named as defendants in the indictment.
Police continue to investigate the beating death of Mitchell’s 34-year-old wife, Julie, in November 2010.
Whetsel, a Democrat who is seeking his fifth term in office, said he does not know Mitchell personally. He said Mitchell was brought as a guest to several golf tournament fundraisers by an attorney and that he does not regularly screen donors.
“I’ve never been to his house, and I don’t bet on sports events,” he said. “I never, ever contacted him or placed a bet with a bookie. We had no idea what line of business he was in at all.”