JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri House Speaker John Diehl is apologizing for his "poor judgment" after a newspaper reported that he had exchanged sexually charged text messages with a former Capitol intern named Katie Graham.
Diehl asked for forgiveness on Wednesday, saying he's working to "restore the trust of those closest to me."
Earlier Wednesday, The Kansas City Star released a story accompanied by screenshots of apparent electronic messages between Diehl and Graham, who is a student at Missouri Southern State University. The messages included some sexually suggestive discussions.
Diehl's statement did not specifically mention the messages.
Graham no longer works at the Capitol. She declined to comment Wednesday.
A Democratic lawmaker has begun circulating a petition calling for a vote on removing Diehl as speaker.
Diehl released this statement:
“I take full responsibility for my actions and am truly sorry to those I let down. I apologize for the poor judgment I displayed that put me and those closest to me in this situation. I also regret that the woman has been dragged into this situation. The buck stops here. I ask for forgiveness. I will begin immediately working to restore the trust of those closest to me, and getting back to the important work that is required in the final days of session.”
Graham has hired legal representation, which offered this statement to FOX 4 on Wednesday night:
Katie Graham and the Graham family has engaged Philip Willoughby, an employment attorney and Partner at the firm of Gunn, Shank & Stover, P.C., to represent Katie Graham in all matters concerning her internship with the Missouri House of Representatives.
Ms. Graham requests the media respect her privacy. She has provided all the information she intends to give on the matter, and will be issuing no further comment. Katie is not interested in being at the center of any political debate concerning her internship or the workings of the state capitol.