Oklahoma County sheriff says he will return donations from accused gambler

Sheriff John Whetsel said he already has written a check to return $2,690 donated to his campaign by Teddy Mitchell, who was indicated last month for hosting illegal poker games at his Oklahoma City home.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Modified: October 17, 2012 at 7:49 pm •  Published: October 17, 2012
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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.

Investigation

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.”


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