Simons expelled from House
The state House of Representatives has voted to expel Dickinson Republican Representative Luke Simons because of sexual harassment.
The vote was 69 to 25. It needed a two-thirds vote, or 63, to pass.
Simons has been accused of inappropriate comments made toward female colleagues and interns.
"This is not about someone occasionally using coarse language, or saying something that was misconstrued," said House Majority Leader Chet Pollert (R-Carrington), one of the authors of the expulsion resolution. "This is about a pattern of inappropriate behavior, and about someone who was given multiple chances to avoid being in this situation."
Pollert told the House he had met with Simons several times to counsel him about hiks behavior.
Rep. Brandy Pyle (R-West Fargo) – who is one of Simons’s accusers – told the House this is not about Simons’ political views, as he had claimed in social media posts.
"The truth is, this is about continued unwanted comments and actions of one person," Pyle told the House. "Our daughters and granddaughters are watching. Let's make sure they know that we don't think harassment is acceptable, and that we are willing to stand up."
Simons responded by saying he is not being afforded due process. He said he objected to any kind of testimony that may come on this floor, without cross-examination.
"I can make any kind of accusation I want to against anybody on this floor. I could," said Simons. "Then you'd be guilty of that, according to what we're doing here."
Opponents of expulsion offered several amendments – to reduce the punishment to censure, and to refer the matter to an outside commission to investigate. All failed.
"We're gonna just remove this person from this body, without the proper investigation, without the proper process and without following our own rules, and without considering a different level of punitive action," Rep. Dan Ruby (R-Minot) said.
Simons' attorney, Lynn Boughey, said they will review their options, and said taking the case to the state Supreme Court is an option.
Under state law, the District 36 Republican executive committee will select Simons' successor.