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Kintner admits cybersex with state laptop; told woman, 'Let's end this, before I get in trouble'
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Kintner admits cybersex with state laptop; told woman, 'Let's end this, before I get in trouble'

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The online stranger goaded Bill Kintner for 30 minutes, urging him to remove his pants for the webcam.

At first, alone in a Boston hotel room, he resisted.

"I just can't do this," the outspoken, conservative state senator typed. "It would break my wife's heart if she knew I did this."

He hung up then, but his decision seven hours later — to resume the chat and give the woman what she wanted — resulted in Kintner falling victim to an online extortion scam, being fined Friday for breaking a law that restricts public officials' use of state computers, and being urged by Gov. Pete Ricketts and others to resign from the Nebraska Legislature.

Kintner, 55, refused to step down but said he has apologized to his wife and God.

The Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission fined the Papillion lawmaker $1,000 for using his government-issued laptop for the live video exchange, which happened in July 2015 while he attended a conference.

The ruling drew swift reaction at the Capitol.

"Senator Kintner should resign his office immediately. Period,” Ricketts said in a news release.

Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers called Kintner a "guttersnipe" and a "vulgar hypocrite," and repeated his vow to pursue Kintner's impeachment if he doesn't step down.

And Speaker of the Legislature Galen Hadley said he was leaning toward supporting Kintner's expulsion from office and that the situation should be dealt with this year — possibly through a special legislative session.

"This puts his fellow senators in an exceedingly difficult position," Hadley said.

News of Kintner's online issues first emerged last week, a year after the woman he met on Facebook convinced him to masturbate into a webcam using the computer program Skype while she did the same. The two also swapped sexually explicit messages, hers apparently translated from another language.

"Make me pleasure," she says at one point, according to transcripts compiled by the Nebraska State Patrol.

But Kintner is conflicted: "I don't want to sneak behind my wife's back," he tells her. "It's not about you, it is about me. You are smoking hot."

The woman, who used the name Vinciane Diedeort, continues pressing Kintner to remove his clothing.

"Let's end this, before I get in trouble," he responds, then stops the call around 5 p.m. July 30.

Only when he returns after midnight does he do as the woman asks, exposing himself. And within minutes, she threatens to post the video on YouTube and share it with his Facebook friends if he doesn't wire $4,500 to an account in the Ivory Coast, which she claimed was for a deaf child.

Kintner reported himself to the State Patrol that day, telling investigators he'd fallen victim to a scam.

"I knew as a follower of Christ I needed to take quick and decisive action, and I did," Kintner said in a statement.

His wife of seven years, Lauren Kintner, is the governor's top policy adviser. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer days after her husband's return from Boston.

News of Sen. Kintner's online activity didn't surface publicly until last week, and even then officials were reluctant to comment pending action by the Accountability and Disclosure Commission.

Ricketts acknowledged having known about the investigation but said he didn't make it public out of respect for Kintner's due-process rights.

Top Democrats have criticized the lack of transparency, noting that Kintner was chosen as a delegate to last month's Republican National Convention in Cleveland despite the ongoing investigation.

The case against Kintner is now resolved, but the file isn't closed on the extortion attempt, State Patrol spokeswoman Deb Collins said in an email. Such cases are often lengthy and can involve suspects in foreign countries, she said.

Kintner said investigators traced the scam to a small crime syndicate based in the Ivory Coast and using Russian computers.

Recorded video of the exchange was never saved on his computer, Kintner said. The scammer posted a brief clip, or GIF, of the recording online, but it has since been deleted.

Kintner's $1,000 civil penalty is half what the Accountability and Disclosure Commission could have ordered, part of a settlement agreement with Kintner's attorney.

Former Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy made a similar deal in 2013 after using his state cellphone to make late-night calls to various women other than his wife.

State law also provides for a misdemeanor criminal charge against public officials who misuse state property. Asked why such a charge hasn't been filed against Kintner, Suzanne Gage, spokeswoman for Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, noted the exchange took place in Massachusetts.

Hadley said Kintner's action was "unbecoming a senator in the state of Nebraska."

Members of the Legislature's Executive Board will meet Aug. 19 to discuss their options.

Only the governor or a supermajority of the Legislature, 33 of 49 senators, can call lawmakers back into the Capitol before they reconvene as scheduled in January.

Impeachment would then require support from 25 senators, although some have questioned whether a state senator may be impeached at all under Nebraska law. Expulsion of a senator requires 33 votes.

Legislative staffers have estimated the cost of a seven-day special session at $65,000.

Ricketts spokesman Taylor Gage said the governor believes Kintner should resign "out of respect to the taxpayers."

"The governor's office is keeping open lines of communication with the speaker (Hadley) to see what course of action legislative leaders pursue," Gage said in a text message.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7234 or zpluhacek@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @zachami.

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Assistant city editor

Zach Pluhacek is an assistant city editor.

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