One day after the Kansas City Star published pages of sexual texts between Republican House Speaker John Diehl and a college intern, Diehl has resigned.
This is an about-face from the St. Louis-area representative's attitude last night, when he hid out in his office for nine hours and finally emerged only to deny that he had sex with the intern. At the time, he apologized again, but said he had the support of the caucus despite the scandal.
In a new statement released today, Diehl formally acknowledges that he sent the texts and says he is stepping down.
Here's Diehl's full statement, released at 1:40 p.m., emphasis ours:
"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."
It appears the Republican leadership is meeting already to figure out next steps:
Republican leadership gathers behind closed doors in House Lounge after Diehl resignation announcement. pic.twitter.com/WxKEl0unzt— Ray Preston (@PrestonKMOV) May 14, 2015
The Gov. weighs in:
Update: In a joint statement, House Floor Leader Todd Richardson and Speaker Pro Tem Denny Hoskins announced the Republican caucus will meet tonight at 7 p.m. to select a new speaker. Their full statement:
"Today is a sad day for Missouri and this body. However, we were elected to do the work of the people and we begin the process of doing that by choosing a new leader.
As a caucus we have a job to do; a responsibility to our constituents and the State. We will move quickly but deliberatively to select a new Speaker of the House.
Our majority caucus is bigger than just one member. We have talented members from across our great state and it is now up to them to choose our next leader, and the next leader of the Missouri House of Representatives."
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