LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska lawmaker who had cybersex on a state laptop has until Friday to resign or face consequences such as expulsion or impeachment, a legislative panel said Monday.
The Legislature's Executive Board voted 9-0 to send state Sen. Bill Kintner a letter calling for him to step down. If he does not, committee members said they would meet again on Sept. 8 to decide what action to recommend to the full Legislature.
Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha, the Executive Board's chairman, said he would support convening a special meeting of lawmakers, known as a legislative council, to decide how to proceed if Kintner doesn't resign. In addition, Krist said state officials are already taking steps to monitor Kintner's computer usage.
Kintner did not appear at Monday's public hearing, and said in a statement he wouldn't comment until he had received the committee's letter. His attorney, J.L. Spray, said in a letter to the committee that he advised his client not to attend because it's unclear what authority the group has to discipline Kintner.
Some senators said they doubt Kintner will leave office voluntarily. The blunt-spoken, conservative lawmaker has rejected previous requests from Gov. Pete Ricketts, Speaker of the Legislature Galen Hadley and other fellow Republicans.
"He's going to tell us to pound sand," said Sen. Colby Coash of Lincoln.
Kintner was fined $1,000 by a state accountability board after admitting to the online sexual encounter with a woman he met on Facebook. The woman, who is believed to have ties to an Ivory Coast crime syndicate, later threatened to expose the encounter unless Kintner paid her $4,500.
Monday's Executive Board vote came after a hearing in which some conservative groups urged lawmakers not to convene a special session to decide Kintner's fate. Many of the groups consider Kintner an ally because he works to block legislation they oppose.
Doug Kagan, president of Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, said lawmakers should wait until the next regular session in January and pass an ethics code that applies to all senators. Nebraska has no such policies in place, leaving some to argue that it's not clear whether expulsion or impeachment is appropriate in Kintner's case.
Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins, a conservative Republican, said he doesn't condone Kintner's behavior but believes lawmakers are singling him out for punishment.
"Since cybersex was the issue and Bill Kintner was the senator, it appears the rush is on," Bloomfield said.
Kintner has developed a reputation for making inflammatory comments, including times when he compared fellow senators to monkeys, likened lobbyists and politicians to prostitutes, and used the term "wetback" during a debate on an immigration-related bill.
Krist disputed criticism that lawmakers are targeting Kintner.
"This says something about our integrity, about our (Legislature). This is not a witch hunt," he said.
Expelling Kintner would require 33 of 49 votes from the full Legislature, and would allow him to seek public office in the future. Impeaching him would require at least 25 votes to send his case to the Nebraska Supreme Court, which would decide his fate. If the impeachment is successful, Kintner would be ineligible to hold public office again.