Yael T. Abouhalkah

Good riddance to Missouri Speaker John Diehl after shameful sexting scandal

Missouri House Speaker John Diehl should have resigned before or after his sexting scandal with a college freshman became public.
Missouri House Speaker John Diehl should have resigned before or after his sexting scandal with a college freshman became public. Missouri House of Representatives photo

Missouri House Speaker John Diehl’s sexting scandal involving a female college freshman was wrong on so many levels that it was incredible he didn’t resign immediately when The Star published the story on Wednesday.

But by Thursday — thankfully — he was on his way out.

It also was disgraceful that House Republicans reportedly gave Diehl a standing ovation later on Wednesday in a caucus, basically saying he could remain speaker. So much for the GOP being the party of personal responsibility.

There was no excuse for what Diehl did.

1. Given his position of power as speaker, he took advantage of a 19-year-old victim of the opposite sex.

2. He single-handedly killed a college internship program for at least the rest of the current semester.

3. He hurt his wife and three children.

4. He looked like nothing more than a hypocrite on family values. For example, he recently filed a court brief defending the Missouri law that prohibits gay marriages.

5. Diehl and/or his staff misled The Star at several points during reporting of the story. When he could have been a stand-up guy, he failed to do so. In the end, this behavior really damaged his reputation as someone who could be trusted on other matters.

6. Finally, Diehl failed to hold himself accountable for his own actions by resigning when the story was published.

Yet, this is the guy who has wanted to tell other Missourians how to live their lives. He was proud of cutting welfare benefits to poor Missourians, of denying Medicaid expansion to help lower-income Missourians and of passing a Right to Work law that could hurt the earning power of many Missourians.

Diehl’s sexting scandal had robbed him of the credibility to be the speaker of the Missouri House.

In the end, by Thursday, Diehl appeared to have realized that.

In a statement, he said: “Too often we hear leaders say they’re sorry but are unwilling to accept the consequences. I understand that, as a leader, I am responsible for my actions and I am willing to face the consequences.”

His resignation was the best way to deal with the consequences and show at least some respect for the people of Missouri.

To reach editorial page columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Twitter @YaelTAbouhalkah.

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