LINCOLN — Rick Sheehy's long, late-night cell phone calls most often were directed at two former elected officials, both widely known in their communities.
An investigation by The World-Herald found that Sheehy's most recent flurry of calls was directed at Michele Ehresman, the former head of the Holdrege Chamber of Commerce and a former school board president there.
Ehresman, 40, who was recently divorced, did not respond to numerous requests for an interview in recent days.
Another woman, Dr. Theresa Hatcher, served on the Bellevue City Council. The doctor told The World-Herald that she had engaged in a four-year affair with Sheehy and that he had promised they would marry someday.
Two other women whom Sheehy called repeatedly during a four-year period — one living in Texas and the other in Colorado — told the newspaper that their late-night calls were not sexual in nature.
The overwhelming majority of the calls occurred before Sheehy's wife filed divorce papers last July.
Sheehy abruptly resigned his post as lieutenant governor Saturday after questions were raised by The World-Herald about improper cell phone calls to the four women.
An investigation by The World-Herald discovered that Sheehy made 2,300 late-night telephone calls to the women on his state-issued cellphone, many of them long conversations held in the wee hours of the night.
Many of Sheehy's long conversations with the women were held late at night or in the early morning hours. Sometimes, he would call more than one woman a night, sometimes three different women.
The vast majority of the calls were with Ehresman, who now works in Lincoln for the advocacy group, We Support Agriculture.
Calls to Hatcher were mostly from 2009 through 2011.
Gov. Dave Heineman announced the resignation at a 10 a.m. press conference.
"I've got a knot in my stomach. I'm deeply disappointed. He's done a lot of good things for the state, but that trust was broken, and he's resigned," Heineman said.
He said he would begin the process of filling the post Monday. "This has happened very, very rapidly," Heineman said. "On Monday, I will begin to think about who is an appropriate lieutenant governor for the future."
The governor tapped Sheehy, a former mayor of Hastings, in 2005 to serve as his right-hand man in the State Capitol, in the hopes that eventually he'd mount his own bid for governor.
Until now, Sheehy, 53, has been considered the leading candidate to succeed Heineman in 2015.
The governor, asked at the press conference about Sheehy's candidacy, said: "I doubt he will continue his campaign for governor, and no, I would not support him under the circumstances."
Heineman declined to discuss the details of why Sheehy was stepping down, other than to say it involved "personal decisions" made by his lieutenant governor.
He said the matter came to his attention Friday and said he had a private meeting with Sheehy. The governor declined to discuss details of that conversation or say whether he asked for the resignation.
"As public officials, we're held to a higher standard. Rightly so," Heineman said. "That trust was broken, and he resigned."
He referred questions to Sheehy about why he resigned. Several phone and text messages left with the lieutenant governor by The World-Herald over the past two days have gone unanswered.
Heineman said he wasn't offended by The World-Herald's request for Sheehy's records.
"I believe in our public records and transparency in government," Heineman said. "We as government officials live in a very public arena, and that's the way it should be. I believe in transparency."
Stay with Omaha.com as we continue to update this story. Look to Sunday's print editions of The World-Herald for the complete results of the newspaper's investigation.