You’ve likely heard about accusations leveled at Rep. Luke Simons (R – District 36) this week. They were released after an incident in which Simons lost his temper and told Rep. Karla Rose Hanson (D – District 44) to “f*** off”. Hanson had apparently singled out the District 36 Republican about not wearing a mask, while they were standing in line to eat, and proceeded to badger him about it. (Note: According to Simons, he wasn’t the only lawmaker unmasked in the area.)
In the aftermath of his dropping the f-bomb, Rep. Simons seemingly recognized the inappropriateness of his language and apologized to those involved. He also took to Facebook and addressed the situation. But, as is often the case in politics, political enemies saw the event as an opportunity to release an informal file of accusations from the head of Legislative Council, John Bjornson. Simons has since denied the allegations in a Facebook Live and press conference.
Full disclosure — if you’re a longtime reader, I don’t have to tell you this — but we’re big fans of Luke Simons here at The Minuteman. In fact, I wrote an article defending him nearly four years ago. He’s far from perfect, but his voting record speaks for itself. He’s unquestionably one of the most conservative members of the North Dakota Legislature— maybe ever. And a lot of people hate him for that— including members of his own party.
The purpose of this article isn’t to analyze each accusation against Rep. Simons. There’s been a bit of that already. For now, you can follow the above links and draw your own conclusions. But what I do want to touch upon is the response yesterday from both House Republican leadership and the North Dakota Republican Party (NDGOP) to the Simons’ allegations. Both of which exhibit a double standard and blatant disregard for due process. You can see their statements here and here.
As I address both of these, please remember the following:
- The allegations against Rep. Simons were never documented as formal complaints.
- There’s nothing that rises to the level of criminal behavior.
- House Republican leadership was aware of allegations prior to the events of this week and never called upon Simons to resign. Nor did they threaten censure or expulsion from the legislature.
- Rep. Simons vehemently denies the accusations as they’re portrayed.
House Republican Leadership
I truly believe that House Republican leadership is trying to cover their own behinds by calling for the resignation of Rep. Simons and threatening him with expulsion. This especially applies to Majority Leader Chet Pollert (R – District 29) and Assistant Majority Leader Scott Louser (R – District 5).
Documents show Pollert and Louser were well aware of certain allegations prior to this week. Yet, there was never a call for Simons to resign. Nor were there any threats of censure or expulsion. Are they honestly going to argue that telling someone to “f*** off” — after they’ve singled you out and badgered you — is worthy of such actions? I suppose they could, but it would be a very weak — and ridiculous — position to take. Not even the “last straw” argument holds water there. (Note: Keep in mind these allegations date from 2018 to as recent as the end of January.)
There’s also the reality that the statement released by Pollert clearly indicates House Republican leadership has already decided that Luke Simons is guilty.
“Sexual harassment in any form is unacceptable and accusing staff and fellow legislators of lying about harassment is inexcusable. Information provided to us by Legislative Council this week, as well as Representative Simons’ subsequent actions, show a pattern of behavior that we do not tolerate and that violate our rules against workplace harassment.” —Majority Leader Chet Pollert (Emphasis Added)
Seriously? When did it become “inexcusable” for a person to defend themselves against accusations they say are false? Remember, there’s been no formal complaint— not one. There’s been no investigation. Nothing. So, is it right for them to just assume it’s all true and mete out the punishment they deem necessary?
I don’t recall anything close to this harsh when Rep. Craig Headland (R – District 29) was cited for a DUI in October of 2018. In fact, he’s still chair of the House Finance and Taxation Committee. But hey, I guess driving under the influence and putting other people’s lives at risk isn’t so problematic to the likes of Pollert— who also happens to be Headland’s running mate.
Let’s suppose — just for a moment — that the allegations against Rep. Simons are true. Let’s say they rise to the level of possible expulsion. What would that say about House Republican leadership? I’ll remind you again— they knew about allegations prior to the F-bomb and never came close to suggesting what they are now. If they believed the allegations to be true, and they knew about so many of them, shouldn’t they be resigning too?
Can you see why I say they’re covering their own backsides here?
North Dakota Republican Party
Then there’s the NDGOP. Not to be outdone by House Republican leadership, their statement yesterday was ridiculous too.
“Representative Simons’ actions and behavior that have come to light over the last few days are inexcusable.” —NDGOP
Apparently investigations and due process don’t matter to them either.
Furthermore, where were they when State Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger was getting a DUI? Or how about Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Kirsten Baesler’s rocky past— which also includes last year’s DUI? And let’s not forget Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring’s troubles in 2014— when he literally admitted to inappropriate behavior around females. Where was the outrage then?
I’ll tell you where the NDGOP was— throwing their support behind every single one of them— including Goehring. Hypocrites.
Acting Like DC Democrats
Let’s just call this for what it is— these guys are acting like DC Democrats.
I don’t need links to remind you about the events surrounding Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings to the Supreme Court of the United States. All of which was based on unsubstantiated accusations.
Or how about the “witch hunts” the Trump administration endured over the course of four years. And remember, not only was he impeached once, but twice— for things the vast majority of Republicans believe he didn’t do.
No, when it came to the Democrats, all that mattered was doing everything in their power to destroy Donald Trump. And they were willing to wield whatever political power they had to do it. Whether it was taking statements out of context or simply making things up, Democrats were willing to do whatever it took to derail the MAGA Train.
John Bjornson Looks Bad Too
Honorable mention to all of this is Legislative Council Director John Bjornson. If you look at the file he released on Simons, his name is all over it from beginning to end. (Note: It’s also well-known in political circles at the Capitol that Bjornson despises Luke Simons.)
Like House Republican leadership, what does it say about Bjornson if he believed the allegations to be true? After all, he sat on them the entire time. If these things rise to the level of expulsion, Bjornson should be been screaming it at the top of his lungs until leadership did something about it. But he didn’t. Instead, he put together an informal file of accusations that might have been advantageous to him at some point.
I’d say this is pretty despicable. If Simons has to go, then like House Republican leadership, Bjornson should be right behind him.
Dangerous Precedent, Due Process, & District 36 Voters
A horribly dangerous precedent will be set here if political enemies of Luke Simons — and it’s undeniable that they are — are allowed to have him censured or expelled from the legislature. No formal complaints— not one. No investigation. No due process. Just a stamp of “Guilty!” and get rid of him.
Given the circumstances, I believe it would be wholly inappropriate for Rep. Luke Simons to be censured or expelled from the North Dakota Legislature. District 36 voters have that right, not political enemies of the man they elected.
Maybe Bismarck isn’t that different from Washington, DC after all.
PLEASE LIKE & SHARE!
- Port: More reports of inappropriate behavior from North Dakota Rep. Luke Simons come to light | INFORUM
- Port: Bastiat lawmaker has shown a pattern of abusive behavior to colleagues | Grand Forks Herald
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- In Defense of Rep. Luke Simons – The Minuteman Blog
- NDGOP Statement on Rep. Luke Simons – North Dakota Republican Party
- ND House GOP calls on Simons to resign (kfyrtv.com)
- Another North Dakota Politician Gets a DUI – The Minuteman Blog
- The NDGOP Needs to Ask the Tax Commissioner to Start Packing – The Minuteman Blog
- Baesler’s Rocky Past, Alcohol Use, & Poor Record as DPI Superintendent – The Minuteman Blog
- Ag Commission Exit Interviews Complain Of Low Morale – Say Anything (sayanythingblog.com)