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Port: Why must the people of District 36 suffer for Luke Simons' behavior?

These ravenous-for-power, narcissistic dopes refuse to let go, and their supporters, addled by partisan loyalties and a growing trend toward cult worship of public figures that is uncomfortably similar to the sort of adulation the pharaohs and emperors and monarchs of old enjoyed, enable them in the endeavor.

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Former Rep. Luke Simons addresses the allegations of sexual harassment and his recent expulsion from the North Dakota House of Representatives Tuesday in a meeting room at Wingate Hotel in Bismarck. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)
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MINOT, N.D. — Tuesday disgraced former lawmaker Luke Simons and his legal representation, attorney and noted Harry Potter scholar Lynn Boughey, held a news conference addressing Simons' expulsion from the North Dakota House of Representatives in response to years of harassing conduct detailed by legislative staff and even Simons' fellow house members.

It was not even a little bit persuasive.

Simons categorically denied harassing behavior, despite having acknowledged and apologized for many instances of it previously, and Boughey's legal theories, though vigorously touted, are nonsensical.

Simons and Boughey were asked repeatedly for proof disputing the claims of harassment. They provided nothing. Simons has repeatedly claimed that he records his interactions with women (in and of itself a troubling revelation, why just women?) but has consistently refused to divulge them.

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Simons, much like embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo , has decided that defiance and belligerent denials in the face of a pile of evidence of misbehavior is the proper course of action.

It's a decidedly Trumpian approach.

Meanwhile, the good people of District 36 are being left to suffer.

Simons' expulsion creates a vacancy in the House of Representatives. Under state law, such a vacancy is to be filled by his party's district committee. That would be the District 36 NDGOP, but local chairman John Enderle is refusing to initiate that process.

He has called Simons' expulsion an "atrocity" and said whether the district appoints a replacement is "up to Luke."

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives continues the people's business, hearing bills in committees and debating them on the chamber's floor, and the people of District 36 are not being afforded their full slate of delegates.

Their underrepresentation a product of Simons' towering arrogance in the face of his expulsion, and the local NDGOP's acquiescence to it.

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If Simons had even a modicum of integrity — an open question, at this point — he'd encourage his district's partisan committee to appoint a replacement to make the House of Representatives whole again. To do this he wouldn't need to give up his indignant denials, or inane legal machinations.

He'd just have to care about serving the people more than his own interests.

Which, I'm afraid, isn't likely to happen given Simons' conduct in office to date.

PHOTO: Rep. Emily O'Brien
North Dakota Rep. Emily O'Brien, R-Grand Forks, details the case for expelling Dickinson Republican Rep. Luke Simons, who she has accused of sexual harassment. (Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service)

When did shamelessness become a virtue in our culture? The way Simons is behaving isn't unusual in the world of politics. Where once disgraced public officials would typically resign, and depart the limelight, today's political figures try to cling to power and notoriety even in the face of devastating revelations about their conduct.

It's Simons.

It's Cuomo.

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It's Trump.

It's Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who managed to ride out a scandal around his past use of blackface.

It's former Congressman Anthony Weiner who ran for mayor of New York after leaving Congress amid a sexting controversy, only to have his renewed political career sunk by further sexting revelations, this time with a child . Even now Weiner's star isn't entirely dimmed. The progressive firebrand, now a registered sex offender and hawking countertops, still enjoys the soft glow of sympathetic media coverage from outlets such as The New Yorker.

These ravenous-for-power, narcissistic dopes refuse to let go, and their supporters, addled by partisan loyalties and a growing trend toward cult worship of public figures that is uncomfortably similar to the sort of adulation the pharaohs and emperors and monarchs of old enjoyed, enable them in the endeavor.

To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com

Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at rport@forumcomm.com .

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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