Nebraska State Senator Mike Groene of North Platte denies accusations he took inappropriate photos of a female legislative aide without her knowledge, but he says he’s going to resign next week to avoid putting his family through a public ordeal.
The 66-year old conservative Republican, who is term-limited this year, had filed Tuesday to run for the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, but says he’s dropping out of the race and retiring from politics completely – adding that “life is too short.”
Groene says he offered his resignation to Governor Pete Ricketts, a fellow Republican, Friday afternoon and that it was accepted. He has been a strong ally of Ricketts with his blunt talk and frequent clashes with Democrats..
Groene’s problems began when the Omaha-based website Nebraska Sunrise News reported that a longtime legislative aide filed a complaint accusing him of taking photos without her knowledge and emailing them to others with suggestive captions.
The aide, Kristina Konecko, had worked for Groene for 6 years and says she found the pictures on his laptop. She describes them as “objectifying and demeaning,” with some “zoom-closeups of provocative body parts with explicit subject lines.”
Groene told the Nebraska Examiner, another online news site, that he had taken pictures of Konecko in his office but that they were not sexual in nature and showed her full body, not “body parts” and no zoomed close-ups.
Groene admitted he didn’t tell Konecko he was taking the pictures, and apologized to her for that. He said she found them after he asked her to screen and delete unwanted emails and that legislative IT staffers found nothing sexually inappropriate on it. Groene was chairman of the Legislature’s Education Committee for 4 years, but was voted out last year due to his often gruff and abrasive personality.