Scandal-Plagued Neb. Senator Resigns Ahead of Expulsion Vote

Nebraska state Sen. Bill Kintner resigns ahead of a legislative vote to expel him following several scandals. (Photo: Legislature.ne.gov)

LINCOLN, Neb. (CN) – Rather than face a Wednesday morning vote that likely would have expelled him from the Nebraska Legislature, a Republican senator resigned his seat after persistent incendiary statements, a cybersex scandal, and a recent Twitter dustup threatened to derail the current legislative session.

State Sen. Bill Kintner, of Papillion, paid homage to another scandal-plagued politician, former President Richard Nixon, by saying “You won’t have Bill Kintner to kick around anymore” at a morning press conference at the capitol. Kintner delivered a resignation letter to Speaker Jim Scheer, effective Jan. 30.

Calling himself “a fighter” and quoting scripture, Kintner noted his reluctance to step down.

“I hesitate to do so as I know my resignation will be hailed as a victory to the progressive and aggressive liberal movement,” Kintner said, about 45 minutes before the chamber was to vote on his expulsion.

Had the vote occurred, Kintner likely would have been the first senator to be expelled in the 80-year history of Nebraska’s unicameral body.

A resolution to vote on Kintner’s expulsion had been filed by state Sen. Bob Krist, a Republican, toward the end of Tuesday’s session, and was scheduled to be voted on at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Law requires that a supermajority, or at least 33 of 49 senators, approve the motion. Speaker Scheer was confident that they had the votes.

In a series of sometimes emotional addresses, 20 state senators spoke out on the chamber floor Tuesday in favor of removing Kintner, with only two going on the record in support of censure.

The decision to step away comes as a relief to all parties in Nebraska’s officially nonpartisan unicameral chamber, as Kintner’s repeated scandals had become the only topic of discussion this week. While legislators grapple with a $679 million budget shortfall and shrinking revenue projections, phones were ringing nonstop with calls from angry constituents about Kintner’s latest offense.

Kintner’s retweet about sexual assault and the Women’s March in Washington sparked outrage among Nebraska voters.

On Sunday, he retweeted a Twitter post by conservative talk show host Larry Elder that joked that three women pictured at the recent Women’s March in Washington were too ugly to assault sexually. Elder wrote: “Ladies, I think you’re safe.”

Kintner deleted the post, shut down his Twitter account, and issued a statement: “By retweeting a message, I was not implying support for putting women in fear of their personal safety.”

Outrage swelled Monday, with a protest against rape culture being organized by the group Progressive Nebraska for next week and a surge of angry emails and phone calls. Kintner was already on thin ice, and his retweet was the last straw.

Over his four years as a state senator, Kintner’s behavior has sparked numerous controversies including an opinion piece he wrote that compared his colleagues to monkeys, a Facebook post where he referred to state senators and lobbyists as prostitutes, his repeated use of the ethnic slur “wetbacks” during legislative floor debate, his attempts to get discounted car washes intended for county employees, and sexist remarks he made at a town hall event.

Throughout, Kintner has seen himself as persecuted by liberals.

The most noteworthy incident occurred last summer, when it was made public that Kintner had stumbled into an extortionist’s trap by having cybersex with a woman on his state-issued laptop. While the woman didn’t make good on threats to release videos of Kintner masturbating, the senator was fined $1,000 by the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission for the clear misuse of government property. Though his actions were illegal, the commission did not press criminal charges.

Despite the public airing of the episode, and calls by numerous state leaders to resign, Kintner held fast to his seat, stating that he was responsible only to the voters from his district and to God.

In the meantime, state Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha ratcheted up a campaign to shame Kintner into stepping down by reading what he called “Kintner-grams” during legislative sessions. Written in rhyming verse, the “Kintner-grams” detailed in graphic terms Kintner’s activities with the extortionist, even quoting sexually graphic conversations from investigative transcripts.

Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, has repeatedly called for Kintner to resign since last summer, both publicly and privately. He expressed relief at Wednesday’s news.

“Sen. Kintner did the right thing,” Ricketts said in a statement. The governor will appoint a replacement to fill the vacant seat and is currently accepting applications.

Kintner’s wife, Lauren, leads Rickett’s policy research office. During his press conference, Kintner praised his wife, calling her “my guiding light and the love of my life.”

She did not attend the press conference.