'Frank Underwood' Steps Down After Sexting Scandal

Diehl quits Mo. speakership, GOP seat
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 15, 2015 1:06 AM CDT
'Frank Underwood' Steps Down After Sexting Scandal
Todd Richardson walks to his office after addressing the media at the statehouse in Jefferson City, Mo., last night.   (David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

Missouri House Speaker John Diehl says that he's resigning from the Legislature after acknowledging that he exchanged sexually suggestive text messages with a college student serving as a Capitol intern. The married father of three says he is stepping down both from his House speaker position and from his elected job as a Republican representative from suburban St. Louis. His resignation is expected to become official today, when his successor can take over. Republican House members met last night and picked House Majority Leader Todd Richardson to succeed Diehl for the final day of this year's session: Legislators face a 6pm deadline today to pass legislation this year.

Diehl—who was reportedly listed in the intern's phone as House of Cards character "Frank Underwood"—acknowledged "making a serious error in judgment" in texting the intern, who no longer works at the Capitol. "I made a mistake," he told reporters. "It's one that calls into question my ability to lead." Former intern Katie Graham released a statement after Diehl's announcement thanking her supporters and saying she hopes the internship program "remains a positive experience for other students." Diehl's resignation adds to a tumultuous year in Missouri politics. In February, State Auditor Tom Schweich fatally shot himself after alleging a top GOP official was leading a smear campaign against him. A month later, Schweich's spokesman also died in a suicide. (More Missouri stories.)

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