Mike Groene: Nebraska Senator faces heat for secretly photographing female aides

Groene resigns after aide finds images of her on his laptop with sexually suggestive captions, say's he's 'done' with politics


                            Mike Groene: Nebraska Senator faces heat for secretly photographing female aides
Nebraska State Senator Mike Groene (Nebraska Legislature website)
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Nebraska State Senator Mike Groene has handed in his resignation after being accused of secretly photographing his female aide. The 66-year-old has become mired in controversy after his aide discovered images of herself on his laptop, some of which had sexually suggestive captions. While the story broke on February 19, 2022, Groene has so far refused to apologize, and simply said he is ready to walk away from politics. 

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Groene's actions mirror that of Chris Berdoll, a CA teacher who was accused of secretly taking upskirt photos of female students in 2020. In June 2021, New York school principal Evelina Medina was sued for forcing her secretary to snap nude pictures of her. While Groene has denied that the photos are sexual in nature, he did admit to taking them. The scandal is unlikely to cause him much grief though like former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was in after he was booted out. 

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The senator, who is in his last term and cannot be reelected has decided to end his political career early. However, there could still be implications if his aide, Kristina Konecko decides to pursue legal action. So far, it's unclear if she will. 

Secret photos uncovered

Konecko told the Nebraska Sunrise News that she discovered the images of herself on Groene's laptop in early-February 2022. The images included "provocative images of her body parts" that the Senator emailed to himself, with "sexually suggestive" captions. She claimed that the images were taken without her knowledge, and only discovered after she went through his laptop to clean up his email. 

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She also claimed that some of the photos were zoomed in, and close-ups of her body, an allegation Groene has denied. He also said that the images were not shared with anybody else. "She’s a very modest person, and I guess she was offended because she wasn’t aware of the photos," he said. Speaking to The Associated Press, the former Senator also said Konecko was working for him on-and-off for six years before she transferred to another office over the scandal.

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Reportedly, Konecko confronted Groene about the matter "weeks ago", which led him to apologize. Despite that, it appears she decided to come forward and report it to the media, which spiraled into Gronene's resignation. Governor Pete Ricketts reportedly spoke with Groene on February 18, and said in a statement "we both agreed it was best for him to resign." So on February 19, Groene did so but refused to publicly apologize for his behavior. 

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"I’m done. I really don’t care. I don’t care about politics anymore. I’ve got bigger fish to fry," he said. Along with the resignation, he has also withdrawn his name from the race for the University of Nebraska Board of Regents. State Senator Megan Hunt has urged the State Attorney General's office to investigate the matter, which the office is now reportedly considering. For her part, Konecko has refused to speak about how the matter will be taken forward. 

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The Governor is expected to appoint a replacement Republican senator, until the 2022 elections. Alternatively, he could choose to leave the seat open till then, as he did in 2018 after Sen. Jim Smith resigned. Even without the scandal, Groene would not have been eligible to run in 2022 due to the state's term limits. 

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