Lauren Kintner, chief policy adviser to Gov. Pete Ricketts and wife of embattled state Sen. Bill Kintner, is a "consummate professional," Ricketts said Wednesday.
"She's incredibly intelligent. She's got lots of experience. She knows policy inside and out," he said. "I just can't say enough good things about Lauren Kintner."
Ricketts and others have urged Bill Kintner to resign from the Legislature after he acknowledged using his state laptop to have cybersex last summer with a woman who immediately attempted to extort money from him.
Last week, the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commissioner fined him $1,000 for misusing state property.
It's a difficult situation for everyone involved, including staff in the governor's office, Ricketts said Wednesday during an unrelated news conference at the Capitol.
Lauren Kintner served as policy research director under former Govs. Mike Johanns and Dave Heineman and now holds that job with the Ricketts administration.
"She is, I will tell you, one of the most capable people that we have in state government," Ricketts said.
Meanwhile, lawmakers are weighing whether to convene a special session this fall to react to Bill Kintner's cybersex scandal. Many say he should be expelled from the Legislature if he refuses to resign.
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Ricketts could call a special session himself, but said he is deferring to senators on the matter.
The Legislature has never called itself into special session, but it could do so with support from 33 members.
It's unclear whether an apology Sen. Kintner sent to fellow senators Tuesday will help his case.
"I have embarrassed the institution in which we serve and I have put you in an uncomfortable situation," he wrote. "I want you to know that I am sorry for that. I apologize for placing you and the Legislature in a difficult position."
Members of the Legislature's Executive Board plan to discuss the issue Aug. 19.
"This is something for the Legislature to deal with. This is their member," Ricketts said. "They don't like it when the governor's branch interferes with them, just like I don't like it when the Legislature tries to micromanage the executive branch."
Ricketts, who says he urged Kintner to resign last year after learning of the allegations, said he met with the senator who lives in Papillion again after the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission's decision Friday.
Again, he said, he asked Kintner to resign.
"Hopefully he's considering the words that I gave him."
Kintner was first elected to the Legislature from District 2 in 2012 and was reelected in 2014.
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