There are different types of trust.
There’s the trust we have when we shake hands on a deal — that the new house we’re buying is sound, that the car we’re selling runs well, that we’ll repay the money we borrow, that we will do what we say we will.
There’s the trust we have with our spouses — promises that are personal and private and nobody’s business but our own.
And there’s the trust that citizens place in their governing officials — that the public’s interests must come first, that an official’s actions will be open and above board, that officials will be honest and candid with voters and with one another. And that anything less is unacceptable.
Nebraska’s lieutenant governor broke that trust. As a result, Rick Sheehy’s decision to resign his office was the only proper course of action.
The former Hastings mayor was picked by Gov. Dave Heineman in 2005 to be his No. 2, to preside over the Legislature and fulfill other public duties. It also seemed certain that Sheehy would run for governor himself one day.
But as World-Herald reporting has discovered, Sheehy made some 2,000 late-night calls on his state cellphone, calls to four women other than his wife, calls that sometimes lasted for long periods of time, conduct that went on over four years.
A visibly distressed Heineman announced Saturday that he had accepted Sheehy’s resignation, and the governor summed up the situation clearly: “As public officials, we’re held to a higher standard. Rightly so. That trust was broken, and he resigned.”
Heineman will now look for a replacement. When whoever is chosen shakes the governor’s hand and accepts the post, that person also will be shaking hands with every Nebraskan. The new lieutenant governor will need to remember that he or she is accepting the public’s trust.