A report to the legislature on former senator Mike Groene’s taking photos of a female staffer without her permission concludes he acted in a “boorish, brainless and bizarre” manner but did not commit criminal sexual discrimination or harassment.
Lincoln attorney Tara Paulson wrote in her 24-page report released Wednesday that Groene’s behavior was “wholly unprofessional and inappropriate” and that he would have faced disciplinary action in a private-sector job.
Paulson added that she reserves the right to reevaluate her conclusion on discrimination or harassment if an on-going State Patrol investigation reveals new evidence.
Groene, a blunt-spoken and often abrasive Republican who clashed with Democratic colleagues, resigned in February after admitting that he took the photos. He also ended his candidacy to become a University of Nebraska Regent.
Groene issued a statement through his lawyer that says the report validates his contention that he did nothing unlawful and did not harass the woman.
Groene said “for the last 2 months, my name has been drug through the mud of a political witch hunt” and that he was wrong to have resigned without going through due process.
He says he resigned because of “bad advice” from the chair of the legislature’s Executive Board, Speaker Mike Hilgers, and Gov Pete Ricketts and that “Americans have rights to their privacy, but apparently not in the Nebraska Legislature.”
Groene claims all the photos in his personal work laptop were private and that a member of his staff and employees of the Executive Board broke into the computer without permission.
The staffer who was the subject of the pictures has said she found them after being asked by Groene to clean up the computer. After she brought the issue to legislative leaders, IT staffers were brought in to do a further search.