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02-02-2013, 06:05 PM #1
Nebraska Lieutenant Governor Resigns
February 2, 2013, 5:21 p.m. ET
Nebraska Lieutenant Governor Resigns
LINCOLN, Neb.—Nebraska Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy resigned Saturday after "breaking the public trust," Gov. Dave Heineman said.
Mr. Heineman announced Mr. Sheehy's resignation in a news conference Saturday morning. Mr. Heineman said the resignation followed disclosures made in a public records request but declined to discuss what those disclosures were.
Associated Press Rick Sheehy in March
"As public officials, we are rightly held to a higher standard," Mr. Heineman said.
"I had trusted him, and that trust was broken."
The Omaha World-Herald reported that Mr. Sheehy resigned after it raised questions about improper cellphone calls to four women, none of whom were his wife, during the past four years. The World-Herald said in its online editions Saturday that it discovered Mr. Sheehy had made thousands of late-night calls to the women on his state-issued cellphone.
Mr. Sheehy, a Republican, had been considered the front-runner in the 2014 gubernatorial race and had been endorsed by Mr. Heineman. Mr. Sheehy has been traveling throughout the state, making speeches and holding public events.
Mr. Sheehy was the mayor of Hastings before Mr. Heineman selected him as his running mate. They were elected by a record margin to their first full term in 2006 and re-elected in 2010.
Last July, Mr. Sheehy's wife, Connie Sheehy, filed for divorce after nearly 29 years of marriage. Her divorce filing stated the "marriage of the parties is irretrievably broken."
Asked for his reaction Saturday, Mr. Heineman said "I've got a knot in my stomach. I'm deeply disappointed."
Mr. Heineman said he doubted Sheehy would run for the governor's office now.
"And no, I would not support him under the circumstances," Mr. Heineman said.
Mr. Sheehy didn't appear at the news conference, and his state-issued cellphone was disconnected Saturday morning. A phone call to Mr. Sheehy's office went unanswered, and a message wasn't immediately returned.
Mr. Heineman declined to answer questions about what had occurred that led Mr. Sheehy to resign.
"You'll have to ask him about that," Mr. Heineman told reporters. The governor would not say whether he asked Mr. Sheehy to resign or whether Mr. Sheehy acted on his own.
Mr. Heineman said he would begin looking for a new lieutenant governor Monday and will appoint someone in the coming weeks.
If something were to happen to Mr. Heineman before he selects a new lieutenant governor, Republican Speaker of the Legislature Greg Adams would ascend to the governor's post. Mr. Adams declined to comment Saturday morning.
Mr. Sheehy's announcement shakes up an already turbulent 2014 governor's race. Another Republican candidate, former Nebraska Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood, entered the race briefly but withdrew in December after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. State Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont, a Republican, has also said he is leaning toward running.
Several Democratic candidates have signaled an interest in running, a list that includes University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook and Nebraska state Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha. In recent weeks, party activists have also approached state Sen. Annette Dubas, of Fullerton.
"We're going to have a very strong candidate in 2014," said Vince Powers, chairman of the Nebraska Democratic Party. "This doesn't change anything, other than it really demonstrates that when you have one party in power for too long, arrogance and corruption and scandal follow it. It doesn't matter if it's Democrats in power or Republicans in power."
In an email Saturday, Mr. Hassebrook said he is "taking a hard look" at running for governor in 2014.
"I recognize that no human is without failing. So I wish Rick Sheehy and his family the best as they seek to heal from this disappointing episode," he said.
Mr. Sheehy changed his Twitter account settings to private before Mr. Heineman's news conference. Shortly after, his account appeared to have been deleted.
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