JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s Republican House Speaker, who once championed the Religious Right’s anti-gay agenda in the state House, and in turn praised by state conservative groups for his “moral leadership,” resigned Thursday amid a sexting scandal with a female legislative intern.
John Diehl spent five years carefully climbing the leadership ladder in the Missouri House, culminating in his election by Republican colleagues as speaker in January.
It all crumbled in about 28 hours.
Diehl, 49, announced Thursday that he was resigning both the speakership and his legislative seat, a day after the Kansas City Star’s website reported that he had exchanged sexually charged messages with a college freshman who worked as a legislative intern.
Calling the messages “a serious error in judgment,” Diehl, R-Town and Country, said in a statement that he was “willing to face the consequences” and leave public office.
Reports linking Diehl to the 19-year-old intern had been circulating in the Capitol for several weeks, since Missouri Southern State University in Joplin pulled its four interns from the Capitol because of unspecified issues.
Article continues belowEarlier this year, Diehl joined other GOP leaders in filing an amicus brief in defense of the state’s anti-gay-marriage amendment, and in 2012 co-sponsored a bill to ban Gay-Straight Alliances in public schools.