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Lawmakers Expel Colleague for Pattern of Harassment

Moving women away from him, North Dakota legislator says, punishes the women trying to do their job
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 4, 2021 6:50 PM CST

(Newser) – The North Dakota House on Thursday voted to expel a lawmaker accused of threatening and sexually harassing women at the Capitol, the first such expulsion in state history. Members voted 69-25 to expel Rep. Luke Simons, a Republican from Dickinson, for a pattern of behavior they said stretched back to soon after he took office in 2017. The expulsion came with strong support from Simons' own party, which holds a supermajority in the chamber, the AP reports. Simons had been given "multiple chances to avoid being in this situation," said Majority Leader Chet Pollert. "There is only one way to make this behavior stop and that is to expel Rep. Simons from this House." Simons, who denied wrongdoing, was defiant before the vote. He blamed accusers for "twisting my words," and complained that he wasn't being afforded due process. "I could make any accusation against any of you," Simons said ahead of the vote. "Under this circumstance we are under, you're guilty."

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Simons is accused of a pattern of sexually aggressive, lewd, and threatening behavior. A 14-page document from the nonpartisan Legislative Council includes allegations that Simons made advances toward female staffers and interns, commented on their appearances, and tried to give one staffer an unsolicited shoulder massage. The council this week released additional documents alleging inappropriate behavior by Simons, 43, a rancher and barber who is married and has five children. 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." A GOP lawmaker said on the floor: "We have moved women away from him, we have limited his ability to work with them, but in doing that we are also punishing the women. When we move women or restrict who they work with, we are limiting a woman’s ability to do her jobs, and thereby limiting her ability to advance because of the actions of one member."

(Read more North Dakota stories.)

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