MINOT, N.D. — Rep. Luke Simons, a member of the controversial Bastiat Caucus, should be expelled from the House of Representatives for the long history of reported harassing behavior that has been revealed by myself and others over the last week.
How that happens may be tricky.
Simons is a Trump Republican, and the Trump movement cares little for things like decent and humane behavior from their political leaders.
That faction is ardently behind Simons, of Dickinson, buying into the conspiracy theory he's woven which would have us believe that the accusations against him are the product of some left-wing political cabal and not the cause-and-effect outcome of his own behavior.
It also seems as though Simons, or perhaps some of his supporters, have begun soliciting donations for a "defense fund." It's not clear how successful that effort will be from a fundraising standpoint — as I write this the effort has raised less than $1,000 — but it does indicate that Simons has retained legal counsel and intends to fight any effort to remove him from the chamber.
How will Republican leadership handle this?
We have to remember that House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, and other Republican caucus leaders, have already thrown down the gauntlet. They've called on Simons to resign. The NDGOP has also issued a news release calling on Simons to resign (though, while it hasn't been retracted to my knowledge, the statement does seem to have disappeared from the party's website).
"Representative Simons’ actions and behavior that have come to light over the last few days are inexcusable," the NDGOP said in their statement, indicating that they support the House leadership's call for resignation. "Sexual harassment in any form is unacceptable. Information shared with us this week shows a pattern of behavior that we at NDGOP do not tolerate."
That is a thoroughly staked out position, and it will be tough for Republicans to back away from it.
So, again, what happens come Wednesday when the Legislature reconvenes?
The protocols for social distancing, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, may give leadership some leeway they wouldn't have had in previous sessions.
Since it's now possible for lawmakers to attend to their duties in the capitol from a distance, participating in committee hearings and votes from a remote location, I'm told that one solution may be to bar Simons from the capitol until a committee can investigate the accusations against him.
This would give legislative leaders some breathing room. It would also address one of the chief complaints coming from Simons' supporters who claim that he's not being afforded due process.
I can tell you, with near certainty, that such an inquiry, done rigorously, will reveal more inappropriate behavior from Simons, but it would also give him an official venue in which to defend himself.
That may not be a bad thing. The case against Simons is as believable and compelling, and his knee-jerk braying about conspiracies is pathetic nonsense, but process matters.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at email@example.com.