Nebraska state Sen. Bill Kintner used his state-issued laptop, while attending a conference in Boston in 2015, to send live sexually explicit video of himself masturbating to a woman he had never met.
The woman, who the AP reported may have had ties to an Ivory Coast crime syndicate, immediately tried to blackmail him for $4,500.
Kintner called the Nebraska State Patrol to report the extortion attempt. And then, of course, state officials knew everything.
The Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission approved a settlement with Kintner that included a $1,000 penalty for misusing government property.
Once he found out about it, Sen. Bob Krist, the chairman of the Nebraska Legislature’s Executive Board, said the best option for Kintner would be to resign immediately.
“Your conduct has not been consistent with the standards of this Legislature or those who preceded us,” Krist wrote in a letter to Kintner.
Kintner’s term in office doesn’t run out until the November 2018 election. But if he resigned, then the seat would be up for election this November, and Kintner could conceivably win his job back.
Krist is not the only one in Lincoln calling for Kintner to resign.
Galen Hadley, the speaker of the legislature, wants Kintner to fall on his sword. Gov. Pete Ricketts has also called for Kintner’s resignation, something that is also a little messy because Kintner’s wife, Lauren, is Gov. Ricketts’ chief policy advisor.
The Lincoln Journal-Star reported Gov. Ricketts, as he called for Kintner’s immediate resignation, added that Lauren is a “consummate professional.”
“She’s incredibly intelligent. She’s got lots of experience. She knows policy inside and out,” Ricketts said. “I just can’t say enough good things about Lauren Kintner.”
Complicating this story even more is the fact that Lauren Ricketts is suffering from ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed with the disease a few days after Kintner got back from Boston, the scene of his cybersex escapade.
Sen. Ernie Chambers said that makes Kintner’s cybersex even more egregious.
“To me, it remains mind-boggling how any man whose wife has been diagnosed with cancer can be so selfish, small-minded, and lacking in ordinary, common decency as to drag his wife through a public meatgrinder of a pornographic scandal,” Chambers wrote in a memo to other legislators.
Gov. Ricketts could call for a special session of the legislature to deal with the scandal – or the legislators themselves, if 33 of them are willing to vote for it, could call for a special session.
No one is raising their hand for that yet, and Ricketts said he’s going to stay out of it.
So far, Kintner is standing strongest.
He did admit he did wrong. But Kintner also said that doesn’t mean he has to cave to calls for his resignation.
“I have not tried to hide from my sin,” Kintner wrote in the letter to fellow lawmakers. “I fully understand the gravity of my action and how it reflects upon the fact that I carry the title and responsibility of a state senator. I have taken personal responsibility for my action. I have apologized to God, to my wife, to you and to my constituents.”
Kintner refused to resign at the first deadline for a decision, Sept. 2.
“(Kintner) says that he believes (his constituents) would want him to stay,” Krist told the Omaha World-Herald. “If that’s the case, I would invite him to get himself on the ballot and get re-elected.”
Kintner had until today to change his mind.
It doesn’t sound like that is going to happen. Kintner told the Lincoln Star Journal that continuing to serve in the legislature would best allow him to continue serving God.
“Whatever phone number he’s using to talk to God, I want it,” responded Krist.
Unless a special session of the legislature is convened to kick Kintner to the curb, there isn’t much Sen. Krist can do about Kintner.
The AP reported Krist has promised to restrict Kintner’s use of a state laptop, and will “look very closely” at any future requests for state-paid travel.
But beyond that, the next move is up to Kintner.
Believe it or not, Kintner has the strongest hand in this card game. His fellow Nebraska legislators, as outraged as they might be, have never booted any of their fellow lawmakers out of the state capitol before. As far as they can tell, it’s never been done in the history of Nebraska.
And it turns out Kintner has friends in Lincoln.
A coalition of conservative groups rallied to his side this month, gathering on the steps of the state capitol to declare Bill Kintner was more the victim of a cybersex scandal of his own making who had apologized. They said he was the target of a witch hunt.
The Omaha World-Herald reported about 15 representatives of the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association, Nebraskans for Founders Values, Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, Nebraska Voice, WinItBack, and Informed Women in Nebraska got together to show support for Kintner.
One of those at the rally, Joe Herring, said the legislature should either wait until next year to deal with Kintner, or better yet, forgive and forget.
“We live in a society that believes in redemption,” Herring, who described himself as a writer, added.
Herring said the cybersex story only has legs in the Nebraska media because of the prurient “slap-and-tickle” factor. “It is not the egregious, horrible, terrible thing that they’re making it out to be.”