New York: An Illinois state representative resigned on Wednesday hours after a report about allegations he posted nude photographs of his ex-girlfriend on Instagram without her consent in an effort to draw other men into “graphic” conversations.
The lawmaker, Nick Sauer, a Republican who had served on the state Legislature’s task force to combat sexual discrimination and harassment, was the subject of a complaint filed by his ex-girlfriend with the state’s Office of the Legislative Inspector General, according to a report by Politico.
The complaint accused Sauer of using an Instagram account filled with nude images of his ex-girlfriend, Kate Kelly, to “catfish” other men, or lure them into an online relationship using a fake persona.
“As a result of the allegations by Kate Kelly, a former girlfriend, I have decided to resign my office,” Sauer wrote in his letter of resignation to the clerk of the Illinois House, where he represented the 51st District, which includes affluent suburbs north of Chicago. “My ability to fulfil my obligations as a State Representative and public servant will be affected by the distraction of addressing these allegations.”
“After speaking with my family, I feel it is best to step away from my public responsibilities,” he added.
Kelly wrote in her complaint that after she was notified about the fake account by an Instagram user, Sauer acknowledged “catfishing” at least eight men with her private photos over two years, Politico reported.
Kelly and Sauer began a relationship over Tinder in 2016 but broke up in March 2018 after Kelly said she discovered Sauer had been dating other women, the article said.
Politico also reported that Kelly wrote in the complaint that she had filed a report with the Chicago Police Department, which she said was investigating her claims.
In his letter of resignation, Sauer did not confirm or deny Kelly’s claims. His spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Reached by email Wednesday, Kelly said she needed time to process the events of the day.
Sauer, a self-described fiscal hawk who condemned “corruption and unethical behaviour” on his website, was elected in 2016 and had been running for re-election in November. His political website, Facebook page and Twitter account appeared to have been deleted on Wednesday.
Hours after the report of the accusations was published, Rep. Jim Durkin, the top Republican in the Illinois House, issued a statement foreshadowing Sauer’s resignation.
“The allegations that have come forth against Representative Nick Sauer are troubling,” Durkin said in the statement. “He will be resigning from office today. We should allow the proper authorities to conduct their investigations.”
Julie B. Porter, the acting legislative inspector general, said in an email she could not confirm or deny the existence of confidential investigations.
State Sen. Melinda Bush, who leads the state Senate’s task force on sexual discrimination and harassment awareness and prevention, said Wednesday that “for far too long in Springfield, sexual harassment and abuse from those in positions of power has gone unchecked.”
She added, “I applaud this woman for coming forward and telling her story.”
In Illinois, it is a felony to post sexually explicit photos and videos of another person online without permission. A conviction carries a maximum prison sentence of three years.
No charges have been filed in this case, Politico reported.
Other politicians in the United States have in recent months faced crises involving sexually explicit photographs. Gov. Eric Greitens of Missouri, a Republican, resigned in May amid a scandal involving a sexual relationship with his former hairdresser and allegations he had taken an explicit photograph of her without her consent.
Last year, Rep. Joe Barton abruptly announced that he would not run for re-election this year after he was caught in a scandal involving a sexually explicit photograph of himself that wound up online. At the time, Barton suggested he was a potential victim of a crime under the state’s revenge pornography law.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Illinois Republican Party chairman, Tim Schneider, said Sauer’s resignation was the right decision.
“The allegations made against Representative Sauer are deeply disturbing and disqualifying conduct of a public official,” he said.
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