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Successor named to expelled North Dakota lawmaker's seat

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Local GOP leaders have named a replacement representative for the seat of a North Dakota lawmaker expelled last week.

District 36 Republicans' executive committee on Thursday night unanimously appointed Dori Hauck, of rural Richardton. She is a rancher, writer and music teacher, and has served as the secretary-treasurer for the district party since 2012.

Hauck succeeds former representative Luke Simons, R-Dickinson, whom the House expelled last week in a 69-25 vote. It's believed to be the first expulsion of a legislator in state history. 

"She's as conservative as Luke, and she's been our secretary-treasurer for many years, she's a known quantity and she'll do an excellent job," District 36 GOP Chairman John Enderle said.

State Republican Party Chairman Rick Berg in a statement said Hauck "will bring outstanding conservative leadership to her constituents."

Enderle expects Hauck will be sworn in on Monday afternoon. Monday is the Legislature's 44th official day of a maximum 80 allowed every two years to write new laws and budgets.

The committee considered "a good number of people," Enderle said without elaborating. 

Simons has said and Enderle confirmed that the committee was willing to reappoint the expelled representative, but Simons pointed out the House likely wouldn't seat him.

Simons on Friday posted on Facebook that "I have no doubt Dori will do a very good job in Bismarck. I wish you good luck representative Hauck. Dory and her husband Doug are great people, conservative and rancher’s, business owners and just all-around good people."

District 36 includes Stark County and parts of Dunn, Hettinger and Morton counties.

The Legislature's nonpartisan research agency had maintained a 14-page file of reports detailing uncomfortable encounters of female staff and interns with Simons, who allegedly threatened and sexually harassed staff, interns and fellow representatives. Simons denied any wrongdoing.

The file became public following an obscene outburst by Simons in late February in the Capitol cafeteria toward two House Democrats regarding wearing a face mask.

The file includes reports of times Simons allegedly made advances toward women, commented on their appearances, attempted to give one staff member a shoulder massage, and spoke about shopping for thong underwear. Reps. Emily O'Brien, R-Grand Forks, and Brandy Pyle, R-Casselton, also publicly detailed uncomfortable instances with Simons.

The barber and rancher was first elected in 2016 and won reelection last year with 39% of the vote in a five-way race. He announced Thursday that he won't pursue legal action regarding his expulsion.

Opponents of expulsion said House leaders didn't follow the proper rules or procedure to expel Simons, and called for a censure or investigation.

House leaders said Simons' behavior warranted expulsion after multiple meetings regarding his conduct, and they cited their rules for doing so in the resolution to expel him.

Berg said the GOP stands "in full support of the action our legislative leaders took to remove Rep. Simons from office."

"While we are all entitled to due process under the law, no one is entitled to hold public office, particularly when the detailed allegations against them have been credibly backed by fellow Republican legislators," he said.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-223-8482 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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