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Port: Lawmaker barred from flight after altercation with airport security backs bill banning frisk searches

Rep. Jeff Hoverson was blocked from boarding an Allegiant flight in Minot after an incident with airport security. Now a bill he's introduced would seemingly outlaw risk searches by the TSA.

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Republican Rep. Jeff Hoverson, primary sponsor of a bill to ban mask mandates, spoke to demonstrators on Monday, April 5, 2021, outside the North Dakota Capitol. (Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service)
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MINOT, N.D. — In October of 2021, state Rep. Jeff Hoverson, a Republican from Minot, was barred from boarding a flight after an altercation with airport security. Now Hoverson has introduced a bill that would seemingly make first searches illegal.

According to an incident report obtained from the Minot Police Department in 2021 , Hoverson accused a member of airport staff of touching his genitals while going through the security checkpoint on Monday, Oct. 25.

He ultimately was removed from the security area, according to the report, and Allegiant barred him from boarding his flight. The incident report indicated that the matter "will be going long for for [sic] simple assault," though, per a public records search, it doesn't appear any criminal charges were filed.

Contacted for comment, Allegiant declined to comment on Hoverson's situation specifically, but said their "general practice would be to deny boarding to a passenger if they were being actively investigated by law enforcement for assaulting a TSA agent."

When reached for comment at the time, Hoverson told me he and his wife were on their way to Phoenix to celebrate their anniversary when the incident occurred.

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"After a number of pat-downs on my body he reached into my hoodie pocket and I kind of pushed him away," Hoverson told me, describing it as a "human male reaction to another male."

Hoverson, who also works as a Lutheran pastor, is an outspoken social conservative who opposes policies such as same-sex marriage. He said at the time that his being barred from the flight was "probably, politically, turning out well," citing "all the positive calls I'm getting" from people who have learned about the incident.

He doesn't appear to be done milking the incident for political juice. House Bill 1410 , introduced by Hoverson in the current legislative session, would bar any federal public servant from touching "the anus, sexual organ, area between the belly button and sexual organs, buttocks, or breast of the other individual, including touching through clothing" while conducting a search without probable cause.

The bill would also prohibit officials from touching "the other individual in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable individual."

Most bills introduced in North Dakota have a number of co-sponsors listed in addition to its primary sponsor. It's notable, in this instance, that Hoverson, the primary sponsor of the bill, has no co-sponsors.

Reached by text message at the legislative session, Hoeverson wasn't immediately available for comment.

Hoverson's bill, seemingly motivated by revenge after his ugly incident with airport security, isn't the only one to have been introduced with that sort of provenance this session.

Last week I wrote about House Bill 1256 , which would have made it a crime for an individual to make a false report of discrimination or sexual harassment in a state university or any other institution or political subdivision of state government. It was sponsored by Rep. Eric Murphy, a Republican from Grand Forks and professor at the University of North Dakota who was accused, and ultimately cleared , of harassment last year.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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