North Dakota House Expels Lawmaker Accused of Sexual Harassment in Historic Vote

North Dakota House Expels Lawmaker Accused of Sexual
Harassment in Historic Vote 1

North Dakota Rep. Luke Simons on March 4 became the first lawmaker in state history to be expelled, after the state’s House of Representatives voted to oust the Republican accused of threatening and sexually harassing women at the state Capitol.

Members of the North Dakota House voted 69-25 to remove the embattled Republican following a three-hour debate. The sexual harassment allegations against Simons, who represents Dickinson, his hometown, reportedly go as far back as 2017—when he took office. Simons, 43, has denied any wrongdoing.

The expulsion came with strong support from his own party, which holds a supermajority in the chamber. The resolution to expel Simons required a two-thirds majority to pass.

Among the allegations against Simons, who is married and has five children, are claims that he requested to run his hand through an intern’s hair, and relentlessly harassed a pregnant GOP House member to the point that she had to switch desks.

One of the women who brought sexual harassment allegations against him, Republican Rep. Emily O’Brien from Grand Forks, said that his removal would show “Legislative Council: You matter. Legislative interns: You matter. Staff: You matter. And to others that have been victims: You matter. And to my legislative colleagues, you matter, too.”

“Women should not have to endure such behavior, period, but especially when working for the people of North Dakota,” she said, the Bismark Tribune reported.

Simons has argued that he wasn’t afforded due process in the vote, and that he is considering challenging his removal to the North Dakota Supreme Court.

He blamed his accusers for “twisting my words.”

“Well that’s it, no hearing, no trial and no evidence,” Simons wrote in a statement on Facebook. “Just based off of accusations that were made, I was expelled from the house and now I’m out of the legislature.”

The nonpartisan Legislative Council earlier compiled a 14-page document (pdf) that contains allegations that Simons made “advances” toward female staffers and interns, commented on their appearances, and tried to give one staffer an unsolicited shoulder massage. One staffer described his behavior as “really creepy.”

Two further documents were released this week, and include allegations of inappropriate and bizarre behavior by Simons. One woman said Simons referred to her as “that pretty one,” and insulted her husband, “saying that usually women who are classy dressers like myself are married to shmucks like my husband.”

The woman, whose name was redacted in documents, also alleged that Simons once placed his lunch box in her office before leaving to use the restroom and said, “bet you hope there’s not a bomb in there, huh?”

Simons’s attorney, Lynn Boughey, has said that they will review their options, and “as discussed, taking this to the North Dakota Supreme Court is an option.”

“I have to talk to my client to determine how he wants to proceed,” the attorney told reporters following the vote.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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