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Missouri House speaker resigns after intern sexting scandal

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JEFFERSON CITY, MO - Missouri House Speaker John Diehl has resigned after screen shots of text message conversations were published in the Kansas City Star on Wednesday.  He was attempting to repair his reputation and retain his powerful position while seeking forgiveness for what he describes as his ``poor judgment'' with a 19-year-old legislative intern.

Diehl said Thursday that he is resigning both from his House speaker's position and from his elected job as a Republican representative from suburban St. Louis.

This is a statement from John Diehl's office:

“In my time in the General Assembly, I’m proud of my long legislative legacy that was built upon being honest with members and doing what is in the best interest of our caucus and this body. I am proud to have led us to the largest Republican majority in state history, the first income tax cut in nearly one hundred years, and an override of the governor’s veto of Missouri’s congressional redistricting map.

"I have acknowledged making a serious error in judgment by sending the text messages. It was wrong and I am truly sorry. Too often we hear leaders say they’re sorry but are unwilling to accept the consequences. I understand that, as a leader, I am responsible for my actions and I am willing to face the consequences.

"I appreciate those who have stood beside me and the overwhelming number of caucus members that have offered continued support; but for the good of my party, the caucus, and this state, I’m not going to further jeopardize what we have accomplished this year and what can be accomplished in the future. Therefore, I will be resigning the position of Speaker of the House and the office of State Representative in a way that allows for an orderly transition.”

The Republican lawmaker is a married father who was just elected as speaker of the house this year. The female intern involved is a freshman at Missouri Southern State University. That school abruptly ended its internship program at the state capitol last month.

Diehl apologized Wednesday for his actions.  He also said he would not resign and appealed to colleagues for their continued support as Democratic lawmakers launched an effort to try to remove him from the speaker-ship to which he was elected in January.

Diehl says he used poor judgment in exchanging several sexually charged texts with the intern. He spent part of yesterday meeting in his office with Republican Women`s Caucus.

Several democrats were calling for Diehl to resign his position as House Speaker. In fact, a petition calling for that was introduced Wednesday on the house floor. Representative Gina Mitten from St. Louis started the petition to remove the speaker.

House Speaker John Diehl has released this statement Wednesday:

“I take full responsibility for my actions and am truly sorry to those I let down. I apologize for the poor judgment I displayed that put me and those closest to me in this situation. I also regret that the woman has been dragged into this situation. The buck stops here. I ask for forgiveness. I will begin immediately working to restore the trust of those closest to me, and getting back to the important work that is required in the final days of session.”

The Capitol drama was unfolding as Missouri lawmakers pressed toward a Friday deadline to pass legislation, with tensions already high because of policy disagreements.

Video of the reaction to Diehl's apology:

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon issued this statement:

“Missourians deserve elected officials who reflect their values and comport themselves to the highest standards of integrity.  Rep. John Diehl’s resignation from the position of speaker and state representative is an appropriate and necessary step.  Our thoughts go out to the families who have been affected by the speaker’s conduct.  I look forward to working with the next speaker to restore the public trust and continue building a brighter future for our state.”

 

The response on Twitter: