Lincoln attorney hired to handle probe into harassment allegations against Groene

Mike Groene
Posted at 2:21 PM, Mar 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-01 15:21:27-05

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska Examiner) — The special committee of three state senators probing the workplace harassment allegations against recently resigned State Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte has hired an attorney to assist them.

Tara Paulson, a Lincoln attorney who specializes in labor and employment issues, has been retained, according to one member of the special committee, State Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln.

Done by end of session

Wishart told her colleagues Tuesday that the investigation should be completed by the end of the 2022 legislative session on April 20.

Groene resigned suddenly a week ago after reports that he had taken photographs of a legislative staffer that the aide described as “objectifying and demeaning.” The staffer, Kristina Konecko, said some of the photos showed “close-ups of provocative body parts with explicit subject lines.”

Groene told the Nebraska Examiner that none of the photos was a close-up and denied that he had treated Konecko as a “sexual object.” He said he had taken about 20 pictures of her with office visitors and a few of her alone. Groene added that he had apologized for taking the photos without her permission.

The photographs have not been released publicly. Konecko has clarified that she did not know whether they had been shared with anyone else.

Patrol investigates

The Nebraska State Patrol has launched an investigation to determine whether any state laws were broken.

The case has inspired calls by several state senators to reform the workplace harassment complaint process in the State Legislature. They have argued for an independent “ethics committee” to handle complaints against senators and for a formal human relations department for statehouse employees.

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