Missouri Speaker of the House John Diehl on May 14 resigned his positions as both speaker and from the office of State Representative following sexual texting allegations between himself and a college intern, made public by the Kansas City Star on May 13.
“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,” Diehl said in a statement. “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.”
Less than 24 hours before, Diehl had issued another statement in which he had apologized for his actions.
“I take full responsibility for my actions and am truly sorry to those I let down. I apologize for the poor judgment I displayed that put me and those closest to me in this situation. I also regret that the woman has been dragged into this situation. The buck stops here. I ask for forgiveness. I will begin immediately working to restore the trust of those closest to me, and getting back to the important work that is required in the final days of session.”
The situation came to light when the Kansas City Star released a report showing screen captures of text messages, allegedly between speaker and the yet-unnamed intern.
Diehl assumed the position as speaker of the house in January, 2015, following Representative Tim Jones completion of his term. He previously had served as the House Majority Floor Leader, as well as on various committees within the House of Representatives. In his resignation letter, Diehl said that he was proud of his “legislative legacy.”
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R) released the following statement following Diehl’s resignation.
“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.”
State Senator Jill Schupp (D) also said Diehl had “done the right thing” by stepping down from his position of leadership and the legislature. Prior to Diehl’s resignation, she called his actions “horrific.”
“I think it’s an egregious abuse of a position of power and leadership, and I am extremely disappointed to know that it happened,” Schupp said.
State Representative Don Gosen (R) said he and his wife are close to Diehl’s family, who live in Town & Country.
“My family’s prayers are with the speaker and his family, and that’s really my primary concern right now,” Gosen said. “I’ve reached out to him from that personal standpoint – I know my wife has as well – because we’re really concerned about how this impacts his family.”