'You’re Not My Fucking Mother': North Dakota State Rep's Behavior So Sexist, It's Even Making Fellow Republicans Uncomfortable

Illustration for article titled 'You’re Not My Fucking Mother': North Dakota State Rep's Behavior So Sexist, It's Even Making Fellow Republicans Uncomfortable
Photo: Luke Simon’s Facebook page (Fair Use)
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It may be difficult to believe that a man who repeatedly engages in sexist and abusive behavior in the workplace may face (belated) consequences. But incredibly enough, Luke Simons, a Republican state representative from North Dakota, is now facing calls for his resignation—from his fellow Republicans to boot!—after stories of his long-standing sexist behavior became public.

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The calls for Simons’s resignation seem to have been triggered by an incident that occurred last week in the cafeteria of the state capitol. While waiting in line, Simons began screaming at Democratic state Representative Karla Rose Hanson after she asked him to put on a mask. “Fuck off,” he reportedly said, before adding, “You’re not my fucking mother.”

Aside from hinting at possibly unaddressed mommy issues stemming from his childhood, Simons’s outburst last week is apparently part of a long-standing pattern of harassing women that he works with, one that Republican leaders seemingly were well aware of but chose to brush to the side for as long as they could. As a local columnist reported at the time, the state’s “Legislative Council, the Legislature’s lawyers and staff, has a file of incidents involving Simons and that he’s restricted from working with some council staff, specifically women.”

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After his temper tantrum in the cafeteria last week, that file was released to the public and it contains quite a litany of eyebrow-raising stories. In one from 2018, an unnamed colleague shares that Simons gave her an unasked for shoulder massage during a Judiciary Committee hearing and that at another time, began telling her a story about shopping for thongs and “joked” that he also wore thongs during a call that was purportedly work-related. This behavior, she said, was “really creepy.” In another incident, he brought up what another unnamed woman described as an “inappropriate example” during a work conversation on legal issues. “What does immune from liability mean, like if you were in a car accident and I came upon the scene and you were lying on the side of the road, if I took your shirt off to administer aid to a wound I wouldn’t be guilty of sexual harassment,” Simons reportedly said. He then compared women to horses. “You know thoroughbreds, they just have that hungry look in their eye, like some women,” he said, during an exchange that the woman wrote made her “feel extremely uncomfortable.”

In yet another incident, this time from January of this year, Simons allegedly told an intern that he would “like to put my hands in your hair” and that he “could tell a lot about a woman based on her hair and that she wouldn’t want more hair because then she would look Chinese or Indian.”

According to the file, when his colleagues complained about his behavior in the past, Simons was reportedly “very upset,” describing them as “overly sensitive people” and framing the very valid complaints as “part of an effort to get him” simply because he was “not being politically correct.” What a peach!

Simons himself seems to recognize that his behavior qualifies as sexual harassment, though he is seemingly more upset that his behavior has been revealed to the public. Via WDAY:

Simons confirmed to me one incident involving a female member of the council. He said he was having a conversation about a “starving horse” situation and was describing the foraging habits of different types of horses. When the woman he was speaking with indicated that she didn’t understand, he made a comment about her being a “good-looking city girl.”

“I guess that was sexual harassment,” Simons told me. Asked if he is restricted from working with this woman, Simons said “yes.”

“Supposedly I can talk to them, but I choose not to,” he told me, adding that he had considered filing suit over the issue because the incident wasn’t supposed to be disclosed to the public.

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The nail on Simons’s political coffin (at least for now) appears to be the story shared by his fellow Republican colleague and state Representative Emily O’Brien, who last Saturday told a local newspaper that she too had been the subject of Simons’s harassment. That harassment caused her to pretend to be on the phone to avoid him, stop wearing a dress that he regularly commented on, and at one point, come up with an excuse to move her seat in the legislative chamber away from him.

More details on Simons’s harassment of O’Brien, from the Grand Forks Herald:

She said Simons sat behind her during the session and would make remarks to her almost daily.

“Every couple of days he’d walk by and give me the up-down,” she told me, saying Simons would make a show of looking her up and down.

It was his habit to comment on the outfits she was wearing.

According to O’Brien, Simons also had thoughts on her personal life.

“He would say that I must be a ‘good secretary for your boss,’” O’Brien told me. “He would say ‘you’re lucky your boss lets you come out here to work.’”

“He would ask how things are going at home,” she continued, saying Simons would ask her who was doing the dishes and the laundry since those things were her responsibility.

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According to O’Brien, she reported Simons’s behavior to Republican leaders in the House, but as the Grand Forks Herald put it, she “was never aware of Simons facing any consequences.”

Until now. Top Republicans in the state House, including House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, are finally calling for Simons to resign. “We want to make clear that this behavior will not be accepted at the Legislature,” they wrote, a nice enough statement that would certainly hit differently if Simons’s Republican colleagues hadn’t already accepted his behavior for several years now.

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Simons, for his part, is painting the calls for his resignation as a character assassination and comparing himself to Brett Kavanaugh. “I know exactly how Judge Kavanaugh feels now,” Simons said last Friday during a press conference. According to the Washington Post, he is planning on filing a defamation lawsuit.

Senior reporter, Jezebel

DISCUSSION

manicotti
Manic Otti

“We want to make clear that this behavior will not be accepted at the Legislature,”

In the White House, yes, if it’s by Donald Trump, but not in the Legislature!”