LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy resigned Saturday after “breaking the public trust,” Gov. Dave Heineman said.
Heineman announced Sheehy’s resignation in a hastily called morning news conference. The governor said the resignation followed disclosures made in a public-records request, but declined to discuss the disclosures.
“As public officials, we are rightly held to a higher standard,” Heineman said. “I had trusted him, and that trust was broken.”
The Omaha World-Herald reported that Sheehy resigned after the newspaper raised questions about improper cellphone calls to four women, none of whom were his wife, during the past four years.
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Records released Saturday by the governor’s office show Sheehy made thousands of late-night phone calls to the women on his state-issued cellphone. He made some of the calls numerous times a day, with the conversations lasting from a few minutes to more than an hour, according to the records.
One woman he frequently called, Dr. Theresa Hatcher of Bellevue, Neb., said she and Sheehy had maintained a long-term relationship after they met during a meeting of emergency responders in Texas in 2008.
Sheehy led the state’s emergency-management efforts, and Hatcher is an emergency-room doctor.
“I thought I was the only one,” she said. “Apparently, I was grossly mistaken.”
She said she last talked to Sheehy about two weeks ago.
Sheehy, a Republican, had been considered the front-runner in the 2014 gubernatorial race and had been endorsed by Heineman. Sheehy has been traveling throughout the state, making speeches and holding public events.
Sheehy was the mayor of Hastings before Heineman selected him as his running mate.
They were elected by a record margin to their first full term in 2006 and re-elected in 2010.
Last July, Sheehy’s wife, Connie Sheehy, filed for divorce after nearly 29 years of marriage. Her divorce filing stated the “marriage of the parties is irretrievably broken.”
Asked for his reaction, Heineman said: “I’ve got a knot in my stomach. I’m deeply disappointed.”
Heineman said he doubted Sheehy would run for the governor now.
“And no, I would not support him under the circumstances.”
Sheehy did not appear at the news conference, and his state-issued cellphone was disconnected Saturday.
He did not respond to requests for comment.
Heineman said he will begin looking for a new lieutenant governor Monday.