Former State Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte will not be prosecuted for taking photos of a female staffer without her knowledge.
A spokesman for Attorney General Doug Peterson says a Nebraska State Patrol investigation found “insufficient evidence to warrant a criminal prosecution.”
Groene resigned earlier this year after a staffer found photos of herself, taken without her knowledge, in his email. Some emphasized specific parts of her body with one labeled legs and another “rear tight.”
The staffer, Kristina Konecko, brought the pictures and situation to the attention of legislative leaders with the State Patrol investigation ordered to determine if Groene had broken any laws. After the decision against prosecution was announced, Groene told the Nebraska Examiner he’d been “vindicated.”
Groene said his ordeal was “trumped up, over-exaggerated” and a “kangaroo court” that was the result of a rush to judgment – adding that he was “like Jesus Christ” and couldn’t fight it” but now regrets resigning and “should’ve stood toe-to-toe.”
Groene also told the Examiner he hopes Konecko loses her job in the Legislature because she went through his private email without permission, contradicting his own earlier statements that she did have his permission. Konecko said Groene had asked her to look through and clean out his email.
During the initial review by the legislature, human resources professionals from the private sector told state senators Konecko was right to report the photos. A report by a private attorney found no clear violation of legislative policy on sexual harassment, but described Groene’s behavior as unprofessional and inappropriate.
Groene now says he didn’t do anything wrong because he didn’t take any pictures to harass somebody or take them with a hidden camera, adding that “it’s a free country (and) I can take a picture of somebody walking down the street.
Groene told the Examiner many of his former colleagues “politically assassinated” his character and directed his sharpest criticism for Gov Pete Ricketts, saying Ricketts pressured him to quit. Ricketts had publicly urged him to resign, but Groene says it’s because he’s a “populist” and didn’t support the governor’s proposed income tax cut.