“Make me pleasure.”
That Facebook message was directed at Bill Kintner, a 55-year-old Nebraska state senator, while the politician was in Boston for a conference last July. In his hotel room, Kintner had started chatting online—using a state-supplied computer—with a woman who went by “Vinciane Diedeort.” Her English was not idiomatic, but she looked good. And she wanted Kintner to masturbate with her on Skype.
“I don’t want to sneak behind my wife’s back,” he wrote. “It’s not about you, it is about me. You are smoking hot.”
So Kintner broke it off. “Let’s end this, before I get in trouble,” he wrote.
His willpower lasted for seven hours. At midnight, Kintner returned to Facebook and resumed his conversation with Diedeort. He agreed to her plan. He fired up Skype. And he removed his pants.
According to the Lincoln Journal Star, the pleasure ended almost immediately.
Within minutes, [Diedeort] threatens to post the video on YouTube and share it with [Kintner’s] Facebook friends if he doesn’t wire $4,500 to an account in the Ivory Coast, which she claimed was for a deaf child.
Kintner reported himself to the [Nebraska] State Patrol that day, telling investigators he’d fallen victim to a scam.
Kintner knew his life was about to get complicated. Not only was the incident likely to come out now that he had involved the state patrol, but his wife Lauren was a key policy aide to Nebraska’s governor. And it didn’t make Kintner himself look any better when, a few days after returning from Boston, Lauren was found to have ovarian cancer.
Still, the sordid story stayed under wraps until this summer, when the investigation finally concluded. In an August 5, 2016 statement, Kintner wrote, “Humbled by the reality that after initially resisting the overtures from a woman who had found me on Facebook, I caved to her temptation to engage in cybersex via her invitation over Skype… I was most likely the target of a foreign criminal extortion ring.”
According to the Journal Star, Kintner claimed that investigators had “traced the scam to a small crime syndicate based in the Ivory Coast and using Russian computers. Recorded video of the exchange was never saved on his computer, Kintner said. The scammer posted a brief clip, or GIF, of the recording online, but it has since been deleted.”
Kintner was hauled before the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission and fined $1,000 for improper use of state-owned equipment. Many legislators—along with the governor—called for him to resign, but Kintner refused, saying he had already apologized to his wife and to God. The best way for him to continue serving God, he added, was to stay in office. (A fellow state legislator quipped, “Whatever phone number he’s using to talk to God, I want it.”)
On August 10, State Senator Ernie Chambers of Omaha—a legendary figure in local politics and the only black legislator in Nebraska—decided to up the pressure.
“If Sen. Kintner is a member of the body in January ,” he wrote, “I plan to use him and his illegal, scandalous, vulgar behavior as source material for rhymes throughout the 90-day Session. Be prepared for the pun, the double entendre, and other verbal techniques to ‘keep the issue alive.'”
Chambers then offered up a free sample:
Kintner’s free to masturbate on his own time,
But not free to masturbate on Taxpayers’ dime.
On August 11, Chambers released a multi-page poem called “The Sordid Saga of Bill Kintner’s ‘Guttersnipery'” that began:
“Who is Bill Kintner?” asked the Town Crier.
A masturbating, would-be thief, and a liar—
A hypocrite—doing not what he ought,
Who never “comes clean” till after he’s caught.
The Legislature’s executive board considered plans to oust Kintner. As the Journal Star reported on August 19, however, this would require a special session that could cost more than $75,000 in a state where legislators make just $12,000 a year. Kintner argued that this would be a waste of money, “especially at a time when our state is facing current and projected tax receipt shortfalls.”
On September 6, Chambers released another “Kintner-gram” that got weirdly personal about the whole mess. It began:
Stuck at home with WIFEY, he’s CLARK KINTNER, flaccid to the touch;
On the other hand(s), with SKYPEMATE, who excites him O! so much,
He tells her, “I’m Superman! because of how you make me feel!”
“If so, take your pants off,” coos she, “show me you’re a man of steel.”
(She’s his Wonder Woman, with her super powers, hot and stacked;
Could it be Clark Kintner sought from her the OOMPH! that Wifey lacked…?)
Kintner fired back, telling the local paper that the rhymes were a “new low.”
“This is beyond two politicians arguing over policy or personal differences,” Kintner told the Journal Star on Thursday. “This is a politician going after another politician’s wife.”
“I expect Chambers to be a man and apologize to my wife,” he said in the news release.
(Chambers did respond in an October 8 op-ed, which concluded: “I shall remain as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar in my quest to remove the ‘Kintner blight’ from the Legislature by my choice of means. If others know a better way, come on with it.”)
One of Kintner’s supporters filed an ethics complaint against Chambers over his rhymes (which now total more than 25 separate pieces). But on October 21, the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission tossed the complaint against Chambers, saying that his poems had been “part of a broader public discussion about how to handle the matter” and were not unethical.
“We’re not the etiquette police,” the Commission’s vice chairman told a local paper.
Webcams: For state business ONLY!
As voters nationally go to the polls to pick the future direction of the country, Nebraska’s legislature remains consumed with Kintner. He remains in office, and lawmakers are still debating various forms of censure or impeachment.
One positive has emerged from the whole mess, though—more awareness of “personal use” rules for state-owned technology. Lawmakers will have new HP computers when they return to work in 2017, and last week, the legislature passed a new set of policies to go with the machines.
In a November 5 editorial, the Omaha World-Herald praised the move. “By adopting a policy against misusing state-owned technology for personal or campaign purposes,” it wrote, “the board removed any doubt about where the Legislature stands on policing its own.”
The 2016 election has shown us a world where Donald Trump’s tweets, Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, and even (alleged) Russian hackers have all played key roles. But tech is altering politics at every level, and somewhere in the Ivory Coast, using a “Russian computer,” lives a woman whose brief connection with a middle-aged man half a world away has roiled Nebraska state politics for months.
Truly, we live in the future.