OKLAHOMA CITY — On social media, state Sen. Rick Brinkley pokes fun at himself.
He posts conversations with God and pictures of his family. He comments on sporting events and talks about performing weddings and funerals.
In an April 10 Facebook post, he took a picture of Krispy Kreme doughnuts with the note: “Dear Lord, please let me make it to the office with all 24 of these…or 23… or 21.5.”
His Twitter account, where he has 22,500 followers, says “Believer, PeePaw, Dad, Son, State Senator & person who still believes that the Dream we can leave this place better than we found it can still come true.”
But officials with the Better Business Bureau of Tulsa, which terminated him as chief operating officer on April 26, allege the former pastor and motivational speaker bilked the organization out of more than $1 million.
In a lawsuit, the BBB alleges that Brinkley, 53, used the money for “his mortgage, pool cleaner, personal credit card invoices, and to support a hidden gambling habit, in an amount believed to be in excess of $1,000,000.”
The organization is also seeking an injunction to prevent further transfer of Better Business Bureau assets in Brinkley’s possession.
“We each have our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. We are tempted in those areas,” Brinkley, wrote in a Jan. 1 Facebook post about New Year’s resolutions.
He listed alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling and “spending money you don’t have” as among the issues that keep “you from living your best life.”
“Stand up and refuse to allow the evils of your life to destroy all of your potential,” he wrote.
Brinkley made $107,708 in compensation from the BBB plus $25,400 more in “other compensation from the organization and related organizations” in 2013, the latest year public records are available.
He earns an annual salary of $38,400 as a state senator.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is looking into embezzlement allegations at the request of Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler.
On Friday, the Oklahoma Ethics Commission voted to investigate Brinkley’s campaign fund dating back three years.
Brinkley denied wrongdoing after the OSBI investigation became public. He declined a request for an interview for this story.
Last week, Brinkley resigned his leadership posts in the Senate but not his seat.
He also ended a job with the Miss America Organization.
“Mr. Brinkley has served the Miss America Organization for several years as a judges’ consultant,” according to an email from the group. “Mr. Brinkley informed our leadership he is stepping aside from that role effective today.”
The news of the probe surprised Capitol insiders. The filing of the lawsuit shocked them, including Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, who said he considered Brinkley a friend.
“Rick Brinkley is the last person against whom I would expect such allegations,” said Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa. “I found him to always be insightful and represented his district well.”
“I certainly don’t want to believe it is true,” said former Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs. Dorman said he considers Brinkley to be a friend.
A day after the lawsuit was filed, Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Mark Hammons chimed in.
“While we understand the need for the legal process to do its job, Senator Brinkley, as an elected official, has the responsibility to address each charge promptly, specifically and factually,” Hammons said. “He has a public duty to open his records so that this serious allegation can be dealt with without delay.”
Brinkley was first elected to the Senate in 2010. He ran unopposed in 2014 and was in line to become the next leader of the Senate.
Brinkley is a graduate of Collinsville High School, Langston University and Oral Roberts University. He previously worked in television.