Nebraska Lt. Gov. resigns abruptly after newspaper reports late-night calls to women
February 2nd, 2013
03:31 PM ET
9 years ago

Nebraska Lt. Gov. resigns abruptly after newspaper reports late-night calls to women

(CNN) – Nebraska Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy resigned on Saturday following a newspaper report that he used his state-issued cell phone to place thousands of late-night calls to women.

The Omaha World-Herald reported it had uncovered around 2,000 calls to four women. The calls were “long conversations held in the wee hours of the night,” according to the paper, which said it had requested records related to the calls.

[twitter-follow screen_name='politicalticker'] [twitter-follow screen_name='gregorywallace']

Gov. Dave Heineman told reporters he accepted Sheehy’s resignation on Saturday morning and that it was “effective immediately.”

“Late yesterday we became aware of new information regarding the lieutenant governor's personal decisions and subsequently had a conversation with him,” Heineman said.

“I had trusted him and that trust was broken,” he told reporters.

CNN’s attempts to reach the governor through his office, assistant, and the governor’s office were unsuccessful.

Local media reported that Sheehy’s wife filed for divorce last year after a 29-year marriage she called “irretrievably broken.”

Sheehy said the split involved a “personal family matter,” according to the World-Herald, and that he had no plans to leave his job or quit his campaign.

Heineman had previously endorsed Sheehy’s bid to succeed him when their term expires in 2015. CNN affiliates KMTV and KETV reported Heineman was withdrawing his endorsement and doubted Sheehy’s campaign would continue.

John Hibbing, a political science professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, told CNN this means the “race has been turned completely upside down.”

“He was a little bit under the radar and Gov. Heineman was calling the shots,” Hibbing said. “He’s been the Nebraska equivalent of the vice president.”

Sheehy’s chances to win the governor’s seat looked good, Hibbing said, after the former legislature speaker Mike Flood withdrew from the race citing his wife’s cancer. With the GOP field now empty, he says Attorney General John Bruning or state legislator Charlie Janssen may run. Bruning ran for the U.S. Senate last year and drew attention as one of several attorneys general who sued the Obama administration over the health reform law.

Hibbing said Sheehy’s resignation could also open the door for a Democrat to win the gubernatorial race, which “would be quite an upset.”

Heineman had served as lieutenant governor under Gov. Mike Johanns, who resigned in 2005 to join President George W. Bush’s Cabinet. Heineman became governor and appointed Sheehy his lieutenant. The two were elected to full four-year terms in 2006 and 2010.

Sheehy recently served a term as chairman of the National Lieutenant Governors Association. Before his appointment as lieutenant governor, Sheehy was a mayor and rose through the ranks of an ambulance company where he worked for 20 years, according to his state biography.

The lieutenant governor’s duties include presiding over the state’s legislature, which is the nation’s only unicameral – single-body – legislature.

KETV described the resignation as “startling” and the World-Herald described it as “abrupt.”

Heineman said he would “begin the process of filling the office of lieutenant governor on Monday.”

- CNN’s Kristi Ramsay contributed to this report

Filed under: Nebraska
soundoff (126 Responses)
  1. The_Mick

    That's all right. I a year or so he'll say he discovered God, is "born again" and the same fools who fall for the "the rich have all the say and we should be grateful for their crumbs" propaganda. I saw a bumper sticker I wish I could find that read, "Born ok the first time."

    February 2, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  2. time for change

    This is a convenient distraction for Heineman who just announced a new tax plan that would benefit all Nebraskans. When a report was released showing that the new tax plan would mean an increase in taxes for anyone making UNDER $91,000 and taxes will go down for all those making over this amount. In Nebraska this means 80% will see an increase in taxes.
    Typical republican looking out for his rich campaign contributors as ge eyes a run for the Senate,

    February 2, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  3. Ho Hum

    This is news? Republican – 'nuf said.

    February 2, 2013 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  4. bluechunder

    Wife filed for divorce one year ago. So they probably have been separated since then. So calls to other women might be okay. Most cell phones have unlimited talk, text, and email. So the calls probably cost the state nothing.

    February 2, 2013 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  5. Caiha

    Wow... he needs more than to resign, he needs to see a shrink, and right away.

    February 3, 2013 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  6. nomad2003

    and come to think about it... the only thing he did illegally was use a government provided phone. And, doing it on a government phone makes the call list public information. Was any other law or regulation broken.

    How many of you have used a company phone to make a private call?

    February 3, 2013 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  7. Webster County Lineman

    Betcha each of the late-night callees...or call girls...or girls getting calls.. (how SHALL we express this?) thought she was the only one with the Lt.'s ear. That's alot of long distance charges. This guy is just brilliant.

    February 3, 2013 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  8. GOP_r_hypocrites

    I like these religious conservative moral values.

    February 3, 2013 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  9. Eric "The Red" Jones

    Sort of reminds me of the fall of several prominent TV evangelists over the last 10 to 15 years for compromising their words with their behaviors.. Nebraska is surely not the only state with abuse of public office problems nor is this abuse carried out just in the highest state offices but likely prevalent throughout state and federal government.. For me, it's not specifically about what this gentleman did or does, just that he used the office for material personal gain, a practice becoming more common in recent years as more politicians think themselves above the law. Illinois Governer Blajocavich (Spelling ?) and several other prominent politicians like Senator Larry Craig come to mind. That complete list is too long for this forum. So there are no surprises in this story for me. Practice what you preach and preach what you practice, an easy combination to stay out of trouble in life. So long as the personal benefits of office are above those of the general public, like pensions and health care among many, the lure of those benefits will drive some to misrepresent their true character to achieve them. Power corrupts, to quote part of an old adage. Seems we've had quite a few politicians die of natural causes while still in office, there is obviously much to be personally gained by career politicians in our country. It's no wonder many don't walk the talk, so to speak.

    February 3, 2013 02:12 am at 2:12 am |
  10. s

    LOL! the marriage was irretrievably broken, no kidding. it astounds me that such a blah looking guy gets around that much. your eye would just slide right off of him in a room full of ppl. can't see being all enamored with the "position of power" idea with this guy either. lieutenant governor, meh. it's like saying assistant store manager.

    February 3, 2013 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  11. DavidInNC

    I am not a gop supporter, but this is being blown way out of context. The man committed no crime. Did he abuse his office? Yes, but don't all politicians.

    February 3, 2013 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  12. Frank

    Thank you Republicans for affirming what frauds you really are.
    Yet a Democrat like former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who hired call girls over the years for "special services", would get a slap on the wrist. Democrats, the party of women.

    February 3, 2013 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  13. Frank

    This is in the same vein as Mark Sanford's "soul mate." These people are veteran politicians and know this is questionable behavior.
    Democrat and former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer should have known better as well.

    February 3, 2013 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  14. RON

    I bet he was checking up on the oil pipeline and these women were helping him. This is just another nut in our goverment and there is a lot of them. We have that problem in Grand Island.

    February 3, 2013 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  15. Anonymous

    So he used State equipment to call women? Big deal.

    February 3, 2013 04:20 am at 4:20 am |
  16. Chris

    Highly amusing. He was mayor of Hastings, NE, a town of impeccable morals and terribly straight laced people. One wonders where and when he went bad.

    February 3, 2013 04:28 am at 4:28 am |
  17. Joe Plumber

    What happened to the family values party? Oh, that's right – it never existed.

    February 3, 2013 05:18 am at 5:18 am |
  18. grobbeist

    Although I dislike Republicans, I don't see how he "let down the governor" simply talking to women at night.
    Big deal. Does his talking to women at night mean he can't do whatever a lieutenant governor does? I doubt it.
    In this country, if you start wars on false pretexts, or rig an energy deal, it's OK. But if you show any sign of
    being unfaithful to your rotten wife, then there goes your career. We suck.

    February 3, 2013 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  19. addison

    Ok I am confused. He is divorced right? Today almost all cell plans have unlimited calls, so there is no cost to the governent or taxpayers, He made these calls after hours so not on work time. So please someone tell me why a single man cannot call women when he is single, when that added no cost to a taxpayer and was not done on work time? I am normally very hard on our politicians behavior, but that is when we the taxpayer are getting the shaft for it. I see nothing here that hurts us.

    February 3, 2013 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  20. Edward

    Why would he have to give up his career because he called some women? American's seem like prudes. Sex is sex, government is government. The two can exisit in the same world.

    February 3, 2013 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  21. bankrupt1

    were they allowed to use their phones for personal phone calls? if yes, then what's the problem? one would think he could afford a private phone. does someone want his job?

    February 3, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  22. HG

    This is not about Rep or Dem. This is about the state of our politicical system. God knows there have been enough high profile scandals on both sides of the isle to embarrass any red blooded American. Unfortunately we get what we deserve. We keep electing these fools. It's always the other guys that are crooks or perverts, never my guy. As long as he/she is abusing his/her position for me I'm going to vote for them. Until all of them start realizing that they were elected to set an example for and lead our country, not line their pockets or abuse their positions for their own glory and gradifiation it will never get any better and untl we as citizens decide we have had enough of their abuse and neglect and vote for the betterment of our nation, not ourselves, we deserve what we get.

    February 3, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  23. SteveV

    I must be missing something. Assuming that the phone in question has an unlimited plan, what is wrong with a soon-to-be single man pursuing and developing possible romantic relationships with four different women? Obviously, it would have been smarter for him to use a personal phone, but many/most people who are issued company phones also use them for personal business – again assuming the plan has unlimited minutes. This seems like much ado about nothing.

    February 3, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  24. SaneInTexas

    Republican sanctimonious hypocrit gets busted doing exactly what he preaches against, news at 11.

    February 3, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  25. Michele

    Another holier than thou GOPer who wants to set standards for everybody ELSE as long as they don't apply to him.

    February 3, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6