Nebraska lawmaker quits after unsavory Women's March retweet

AP News
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Posted: Jan 25, 2017 12:18 PM
Nebraska lawmaker quits after unsavory Women's March retweet

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska state legislator known for his blunt, occasionally offensive manner, who was fined for having cybersex using a state computer, resigned Wednesday after he retweeted a comment that implied participants at a women's march were too unattractive to be sexually assaulted.

Republican Sen. Bill Kintner announced at a news conference in the state Capitol that he would step down from the seat he has held since 2012. He made the announcement less than an hour before Nebraska lawmakers were scheduled to debate whether to expel him — the first time the Legislature would have taken such an action in recent history.

Kintner said he received many calls from constituents urging him to stay, and that he was resigning even though he was worried it would "be hailed as a victory to the progressive and aggressive liberal movement."

The Republican — who previously enjoyed support from his conservative allies, despite his penchant for inflammatory comments — described his last four years in office as "frustrating" and acknowledged that senators likely had enough votes to remove him.

"To paraphrase Richard Nixon, you won't have Bill Kintner to kick around anymore," he said.

He did not apologize for his social media faux pas and left the press conference without taking questions.

Kintner, of Papillion, retweeted a comment Sunday 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's 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."

Kintner's resignation won't go into effect until Monday at 12:01 a.m. Speaker of the Legislature Jim Scheer said he has asked Kintner not to participate in any more floor debates or votes.

Scheer, a fellow Republican, said he appreciated Kintner's decision to step down and spare the Legislature the "toil and disruption" of a vote to expel him. He said he met with Kintner Tuesday night and again on Wednesday morning, but declined to elaborate on what they discussed.

Nebraska Democratic Party chairwoman Jane Kleeb celebrated Kintner's announcement.

"The Women's March just took down their first politician. The Nebraska Democratic Party welcomes the resignation of Bill Kintner and looks forward to electing a candidate who stands up for women and working class families," Kleeb said.

Even before Kintner's Twitter blunder, he was already under scrutiny for his behavior.

He 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.

That scandal drew calls for him to resign from top state officials, including Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, but Kintner refused to bow to the pressure.

In a statement Wednesday, Ricketts said Kintner "did the right thing" by stepping down and promised to fill the vacancy quickly.

Lawmakers said they were bombarded with calls, emails and letters this week from constituents outraged by Kintner's most recent indiscretion.

"It would have been a huge distraction and a disservice to the state," if Kintner had tried to stay, said Democratic Sen. Adam Morfeld.

Sen. Ernie Chambers, Kintner's longtime adversary, urged him to resign, calling his behavior "disgusting" and embarrassing for his wife, who works for the governor.

Kintner's history of offensive statements made even some of his conservative allies cringe.

In 2015, 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."

Kintner, 56, was elected in 2012 to represent a largely rural and suburban district south of Omaha. He was up for re-election in 2018.

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Follow Grant Schulte on Twitter at https://twitter.com/GrantSchulte