Luke Simons, Dogged by Harassment Claims, Could Be First North Dakota State Rep Expelled From Office

Luke Simons, a Republican North Dakota House member, could become the first representative in the state to be expelled from office after facing sexual harassment allegations.

GOP House Majority Leader Chet Pollert told The Associated Press that a bipartisan resolution to expel Simons will be introduced by lawmakers on the House floor on Thursday.

The resolution follows a series of sexual misconduct allegations against Simons dating back to 2017.

Last month, lawyers for the North Dakota Legislature released a 14-page document alleging that Simons had inappropriate interactions with female staffers and interns, commented on their appearances, and attempted to give a staffer an unwanted shoulder massage. Other examples alleged that Simons has used profanities and made threats against fellow lawmakers.

On February 25, Republican State Representative Emily O'Brien said in a statement that Simons' harassment was so pervasive she moved her desk away from his.

"I, myself, have endured harassment by Rep. Simons. In order to avoid continued proximity to him, my colleagues helped me relocate to a desk further away from him under the pretense that my pregnancy required closer proximity to a restroom rather than addressing his harassing behavior," O'Brien wrote on Facebook.

Lawmakers have since called for Simons' to either resign or be removed from office, but the North Dakota Republican has denied any claims of wrongdoing.

In a statement on Tuesday, Simons said that the allegations "have been totally misconstrued and taken out of context."

"If the Legislature decides to inquire into any of my conduct or any of the allegations made by the director of the Legislative Council, then I look forward to a full and complete public hearing in which witnesses are heard, the true facts are determined, and where I am provided all of my due process rights and afforded the opportunity to require the attendance of witnesses, if necessary by subpoena," Simons said.

North Dakota
North Dakota Republican state Rep. Luke Simons could face expulsion over allegations of sexual harassment. This photo taken August 18, 2013 shows the state Capitol of North Dakota at Bismarck. KAREN BLEIER/Getty

For more reporting, see below from the Associated Press.

Legislative officials said there is no record of any lawmaker being expelled in North Dakota since statehood. Pollert said lawmakers on Wednesday will discuss the process outlining the potential removal of Simons.

The resolution could be debated by a yet-to-be formed committee, an existing committee, or by the entire House, the leaders said. Pollert and Democratic House Minority Leader Josh Boschee said they preferred the latter.

"Rep. Simons will have his day and will be able to defend his actions," Pollert said.

Simons, a barber and rancher, is a member of the loosely organized Bastiat Caucus, a far-right group that supports limited government and gun rights. Simons has insisted on social media that he's being targeted for his politics.

Simons' attorney, Lynn Boughey, said he believes the House cannot expel Simons, and beyond censure, can only impeach him, which would require a Senate trial.

Legislative leaders and their lawyers note the North Dakota Constitution says either chamber can expel a member with two-thirds approval. That would mean 63 members of the House would need to approve. Republicans hold an 80-14 advantage in the chamber.