Nebraska state senator criticized for women's march retweet

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Posted: Jan 23, 2017 5:04 PM
Nebraska state senator criticized for women's march retweet

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska state senator who had cybersex with a woman on a state computer is facing criticism again for a retweet suggesting that demonstrators at a women's march weren't attractive enough to be sexually assaulted.

Republican state Sen. Bill Kintner of Papillion on Sunday retweeted a comment by conservative radio personality Larry Elder that mocked three women pictured with signs protesting Donald Trump's comments about touching women inappropriately. Above the photo, Elder wrote: "Ladies, I think you're safe."

Kintner declined to comment Monday when reporters approached him at the Capitol. His office later released a statement saying: "By retweeting a message, I was not implying support for putting women in fear of their personal safety. I took down the retweet as soon as I became aware that it was being misconstrued."

His retweet drew fierce criticism on social media, and by mid-Monday morning, Kintner had deactivated his account. Before he did so, he responded to one Twitter critic with, "Right out of the liberal playbook, take a joke & claim victim-hood."

The blunt-spoken lawmaker paid a $1,000 fine last year for misuse of state property after he admitted to engaging in mutual masturbation in July 2015 with a woman using Skype, an online video-chatting service. Kintner reported the transgression to the Nebraska State Patrol after the woman threatened to expose the encounter unless he paid her $4,500.

The ordeal drew calls for him to resign from top state officials, including Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, but Kintner refused to bow to public pressure. He even faced threats of impeachment from fellow senators, although no lawmaker has taken steps to do so.

Despite Kintner's long history of inflammatory comments, his conservative allies have defended him amid concerns that they would lose one of their strongest voices in the officially nonpartisan Legislature.

Kintner's retweet drew immediate criticism online and from the Nebraska Democratic Party.

"Sen. Kintner should spend more time following the law and less time offending women," said Jane Kleeb, the party's chairwoman. "For someone caught engaging in illegal behaviors, one would think Kintner and the Republican party would put an end to this nonsense and get back to work for our families."

Kleeb called Kintner "an embarrassment to Nebraska, and anyone who co-sponsors his bills or asks him to speak at rallies is condoning his illegal behavior and his offensive remarks about women."

Ricketts said he had not seen Kintner's retweet, but repeated his previous call for Kintner to resign because of the cybersex incident.

"It's really up to the Legislature to manage their own people," he said at a news conference on an unrelated topic.

Critics of Kintner have organized a rally at the Capitol next month to protest the retweet.

"How dare he say that. It's just awful," said Linda Anderson, chairwoman of the liberal group Progressive Nebraska, which organized the rally. "I'm surprised he's still in office. One of those women could have been his grandmother."

The rally on Feb. 2 was timed to coincide with a hearing on a Kintner-sponsored bill that would require abortion clinics to post a link on their websites to state information about fetal development and ultrasound videos. The state webpage would provide information about alternatives to abortion and a list of clinics that provide free ultrasounds.

Last year, the Nebraska Latino American Commission condemned Kintner for repeatedly using an ethnic slur during a debate over allowing driver's licenses for certain youths brought to the country illegally.

Some were bemused and others offended by his 2013 comment to a newspaper, which asked him what he considered the biggest mystery. Kintner responded, "Women. No one understands them. They don't even understand themselves. Books and books and books have been written about it, and no one understands it."

Kintner, 56, was elected in 2012 to represent a largely rural and suburban district south of Omaha. He is up for re-election in 2018, and has not held any other elected office.