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Ricketts answers questions on his response to Kintner allegations
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Ricketts answers questions on his response to Kintner allegations

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Gov. Pete Ricketts reiterated Monday that if it is shown that Sen. Bill Kintner of Papillion used his state computer for sexual purposes, he should resign.

"It's that simple," he said.

Ricketts said the Nebraska State Patrol told the governor's office in July 2015 that Kintner had asked for an investigation into a computer-related crime he said was committed against him.

"That's when I said the State Patrol needs to do a full investigation," Ricketts said at a Monday morning news conference called on a different topic.

When it appeared that Kintner used his state computer for sexually explicit reasons, Ricketts told him he ought to resign, he said.

"Obviously, he didn't resign," he said.

Ricketts said Kintner didn't respond one way or another to his opinion he should leave the Legislature.

It is well known that Kintner has worked closely with the governor on legislative matters. But Ricketts said Monday he would have handled the situation the same way no matter who the senator was, taking into consideration due process.

The patrol completed its investigation in October and turned its findings over to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission in November, Ricketts said. The commission is expected to announce its findings on Friday.

Ricketts said he didn't make any public comment on the issue at the time because it was not appropriate. State law bars comments on investigations by Accountability and Disclosure.

"Of course, we're all entitled to the legal process that goes along with such an investigation," he said.

Ricketts said the fact that Kintner's wife, Lauren, is his policy research director didn't affect how he handled the case.

Ricketts' spokesman Taylor Gage said the governor did not talk to Lauren Kintner about the issue until early June this year, when he also told her she was a valued member of the governor's team.

Ricketts said it is not within his powers, either by state law or the state Constitution, to discipline members of the Legislature. That power belongs to the Legislature.

He would not comment or whether the Legislature should have acted earlier on the Kintner situation.

"They typically don't like it when the executive branch tries to get into their business, so I'll let the Legislature manage their own business," he said.

The Legislature's Executive Board chairman, Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha, said this weekend that when it came to light that a woman was trying to sell a sexually explicit video she said involved Kintner, he and Speaker Galen Hadley decided it should be handled by Ricketts' office because Kintner's wife worked for the governor.

Krist said he thought if anyone could get through to Kintner and stop the embarrassment, it would be Ricketts.

If he had it to do over again, Krist said, he would have pressed for the Executive Board to deal with the issue or pursued some other action. Hadley said he, too, should have asked more questions.

If the allegations are true, Hadley said, Kintner could be expelled with a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.

Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers said Saturday that the Executive Board, of which he is a member, should have been informed about the allegation last year.

If Kintner doesn't resign, he said, he will call for his impeachment or work to expel him from Legislature in January.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or jyoung@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSLegislature.

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