Missouri House speaker resigns after intern text messages
JEFFERSON CITY - The Associated Press reports Missouri House Speaker John Diehl says he is resigning from office after acknowledging that he exchanged sexually charged text messages with a Capitol intern.
Diehl said Thursday that he is resigning both from his House speaker's position and from his elected job as a Republican representative from suburban St. Louis.
Diehl acknowledged "making a serious error in judgment by sending the text messages."
His resignation comes a day after The Kansas City Star released a story accompanied by screenshots of what the newspaper said were electronic messages between Diehl and the intern. Some of the messages were sexually suggestive.
State Representative Nate Walker said the sequence of events on Thursday was beneficial in getting the session back on track.
"I think the way it played out, it played out pretty effectively," Walker said. "Within 24 to 36 hours there's been a decision made and we can all go back to our work serving the people of the state of Missouri, and I think that's important."
The 49-year-old Diehl was chosen as speaker in January and was first elected to the House in 2008. He is married and has three children.
House Speaker John J. Diehl, Jr. issued the following statement announcing his resignation Thursday:
"In my time in the General Assembly, I'm proud of my long legislative legacy that was built upon being honest with members and doing what is in the best interest of our caucus and this body. I am proud to have led us to the largest Republican majority in state history, the first income tax cut in nearly one hundred years, and an override of the governor's veto of Missouri's congressional redistricting map.
I have acknowledged making a serious error in judgment by sending the text messages. It was wrong and I am truly sorry. Too often we hear leaders say they're sorry but are unwilling to accept the consequences. I understand that, as a leader, I am responsible for my actions and I am willing to face the consequences.
I appreciate those who have stood beside me and the overwhelming number of caucus members that have offered continued support; but for the good of my party, the caucus, and this state, I'm not going to further jeopardize what we have accomplished this year and what can be accomplished in the future. Therefore, I will be resigning the position of Speaker of the House and the office of State Representative in a way that allows for an orderly transition."
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) today released the following statement regarding the resignation of Missouri House Speaker John Diehl:
"Speaker Diehl was an effective leader with significant accomplishments for our state. He made a mistake, and has apologized. He made the right decision today. I wish John the best as he and his family work through this."