DICKINSON, N.D. — In a sit-down discussion with Forum News Service Thursday, Feb. 25, state Rep. Luke Simons, of Dickinson, N.D., denied all allegations that he made inappropriate comments, harassed or touched anyone, as claimed in documents that were released in Rob Port’s Forum News Service column on Wednesday.

Simons said he will seek a lawsuit for defamation related to the “unfounded” allegations.

Simons is accused of inappropriate, sexual harassment allegations dating back to 2018, Port reported this week. Simons called these allegations “false” and part of a political attack directed at his ultra-conservative stances.

“What it has turned into is an agenda against my character," Simons said. "These are accusations that have come to me that simply just aren’t true. They’ve taken my words and distorted them into very, very sick concepts that just aren’t true …

“I know exactly how Judge Kavanaugh feels now," he continued. "(They) have come against my character (and these allegations) are simply not true and most of these people in here, they’re trying to make me sound like some back hills hick that doesn’t know how to talk to people. Well, news flash, I’m a barber. I talk to people every single day and I believe that I usually can come across pretty straightforward (like) how Reagan would be. However, there are bureaucrats out there that are very much against conservative ideals and fighting against conservative ideals. This kind of stuff is to be expected.”

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Under fire for inappropriate language

Earlier this week, the Dickinson Republican was mired in controversy for comments he made toward Rep. Karla Rose Hanson, a Fargo Democrat.

After Hanson demanded Simons put his face mask on at the Capitol cafeteria, Simons replied, “f--- off” and “you’re not my f------ mother.”

Simons issued a public apology earlier in the week and said he feels very passionate about the mask issue. According to Simons, the incident happened when several others were not wearing masks and the sign was only a suggestion.

“The type of Christian I am, we don’t use that kind of language, and I certainly know all of the right words to say. I’ve been in the oilfield a good portion of my working career and construction as well. But I don’t try to make an effort to use that kind of language and the mask thing got me pretty worked up,” he said.

"As a Christian, I don’t condone that kind of language. Sitting in front of my daughters here, my wife, it’s wrong and, for that, I am sorry … I don’t apologize for anything else that I said, but I do apologize for saying the F word.”

Port reported that Simons' alleged abusive behavior has also been directed toward female attorneys and staffers who serve the Legislature, according to records obtained from the Legislative Council.

In one incident, female members of staff alleged that Simons gave them unrequested shoulder rubs.

“I don’t rub my own sister-in-law’s shoulders. I don’t touch women. Even (with) the people right here, the only ladies in my life. Even my own daughter-in-law, I don’t touch her. Why? Because it’s not right to touch a woman,” Simons said. “That is not true; I didn’t massage anybody’s shoulders. But what I am saying is these are a big, fat lie. Big fat lie. I never knew that politics could go down to this level ever in a million years. So no, it didn’t happen. It’s an accusation and I will see that person in court.”

According to the records, another incident occurred in January and alleges that Simons told a legislative intern “he’d like to put his hands in her hair.” Simons called this false. He said he told the intern he noticed her metallic, dyed hair with split ends and recommended a conditioning treatment to fix the problem.

“I’m a big burly guy, I have cattle. I am big and I’m a barber,” Simons said. “So I could notice your hair from across the room and know exactly, probably what kind of product you’re using in your hair. Why? Because I work on hair all day long and I do consultations on hair, which costs you about $60 for a half hour. And I could tell you exactly what to use in your hair … In my current attire, you might think that’s odd. But if I was wearing skinny jeans and I had pink hair and I talked in a more soprano voice, you wouldn’t have any problems with that at all.”

Simons claims to have recorded all his conversations for more than two years, much as what former Vice President Mike Pence did as a means to protect himself from false allegations.

District 36 Rep. Luke Simmons, of Dickinson, sits down with The Press Thursday afternoon regarding the recent allegations of misconduct. (Josiah C. Cuellar/The Dickinson Press)
District 36 Rep. Luke Simmons, of Dickinson, sits down with The Press Thursday afternoon regarding the recent allegations of misconduct. (Josiah C. Cuellar/The Dickinson Press)

Threat of censure, expulsion

Simons has long been a “political enemy” of Democrats, but noted that lines have been drawn within his own Republican Party, with some talking about possible censure or expulsion.

Speaking with Port, Republican Majority Leader Chet Pollert said that Simons’ future could be in jeopardy if incidents continue. Pollert addressed the incident involving Rep. Hanson.

"What Rep. (Josh) Boschee told me yesterday is that he talked with the two ladies involved and they said if Luke had an apology they would accept that, but if something further happens then they're expecting something from the floor, whether it be a reprimand or censure," Pollert said.

According to Simons, there are “counterfeits” within the Republican Party who he explained “simply have a R by their name” but were not upholding their oaths to their constituents or the U.S. Constitution.

Democratic-NPL Chair Kylie Oversen said of Simons in a statement on Thursday that the embattled representative “has made it clear that he is without the capacity for remorse, that he is unfit for public office and that he should resign his seat immediately.

"The North Dakota Democratic-NPL stands in full support of the women who have experienced sexual harassment, and we commend their bravery in coming forward and reporting these horrific incidents,” Oversen said. “We are left to wonder how many incidents have gone unreported. Unfortunately, Simons’ unhinged behavior continues without remorse, as he berates Legislative Council staff and calls for their resignation through a string of Facebook live videos."

"As a Christian, I don’t condone that kind of language. Sitting in front of my daughters here, my wife, it’s wrong and, for that, I am sorry … I don’t apologize for anything else that I said, but I do apologize for saying the F word.”

— State Rep. Luke Simons, R-Dickinson

Moving forward

Since his first day in office, the outspoken legislator has been active on social media. There, Simons releases legislator’s votes, a move that he says has garnered many political enemies.

“This whole saying is you have to represent your people. But first of all, let me explain myself. I don’t represent the people, I represent the Constitution of the United States of America and North Dakota,” he said, adding, “So by representing the Constitution and the state of North Dakota’s constitution, I therefore represent everybody. But to say that a legislator is supposed to listen to his constituents, does that mean I listen to the ones who scream the most?”

The mandated masks have been an issue for Simons since first implemented, and is something that he sees as violating the U.S. Constitution.

“My point is I am fundamentally against what we’re being told to believe. And because of that, I am aggressive and I am talking about things that are very strong, and you can see exactly how I am. This is how I am; this is who they elected (in) the District 36, that’s who they voted in. If they don’t like it, they can throw me out of office next time around. But the Republicans can’t say, ‘This guy’s a little bit too much John Wayne for me,’ because that’s exactly what I ran under,” Simons said.

Simons’ support in western North Dakota remains strong, with him garnering 5,145 more votes than his two political opponents in 2020, a landslide victory that witnessed Simons garner 38% of the total vote.

“I’m not too worried about this, to be very honest. In fact, if this wasn’t so serious I would find it hilarious because this is not true," he said. "I’ve lived in this town all of my life; the people in this community know me and they know that this is not me. That is not who I am.

"I’ve been nothing but a gentleman … You’re going to have some Democrats that are upset with me, they’re always upset at me. I always tell them, ‘There’s only one solution — throw me out of office and replace me.'"

Simons reiterated his intentions to file lawsuits related to the releasing of the documents and the “defamation” he has experienced as a result.

“I will probably sue the legal council is what I will do. There is somebody there that obviously needs to be relieved of their duties and I will sue, more than likely,” he said. “I should have sued in the beginning, but to be very honest I’ve never had any kind of accusations like this ever against me before in my life. So I was kind of taken back when this would happen.”

In a succinct final message to those in Bismarck, Simons said he would stay the course.

“I told you what I was when you hired me for this position. I’m a conservative, I won’t back off of it.”