More GOP Leaders Want to Boot Legislator Over Slur-Filled Rant

Footage shows North Dakota lawmaker spewing homophobic, anti-migrant comments at police
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 26, 2023 5:30 PM CST
Updated Dec 30, 2023 5:00 AM CST
GOP Wants Legislator Out Over Slur-Filled Rant
Body camera video captured North Dakota Republican lawmaker Nico Rios using profanity and homophobic slurs toward Williston police officers after being stopped.   (Williston Police Dept. via AP)
UPDATE Dec 30, 2023 5:00 AM CST

Local Republican Party leaders of a North Dakota lawmaker's own district joined calls on Friday for him to step down after his vulgar comments to police earlier this month during his traffic stop and arrest on a charge of drunken driving, the AP reports. In a Facebook statement, the North Dakota District 23 GOP Executive Committee said it has "lost confidence" in Republican state Rep. Nico Rios' ability to represent voters' best interests. The committee requested his resignation. "The language and slurs that Rep. Rios chose to use disrespected and belittled officers during his violation and are not consistent with our beliefs and party platform," the committee said. In a statement on Wednesday, Rios said he is "seriously mulling all aspects" of his future, and plans to seek help for issues with alcoholism, but he made no immediate plans to resign.

Dec 26, 2023 5:30 PM CST

Republican leaders have called on a North Dakota lawmaker to resign after he lashed out at police with homophobic and anti-migrant remarks during a traffic stop in which he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. Republican House Majority Leader Mike Lefor said Tuesday he called on GOP state Rep. Nico Rios of Williston to resign over the weekend. His statement cited a police officer's report of Rios being "verbally abusive, homophobic, racially abusive and discriminatory" toward him "for the entire duration of the incident following road side testing." Lefor also said Rios attempted to use his position as a lawmaker to intimidate police and avoid an arrest, the AP reports.

"There is no room in the legislature, or our party, for this behavior," Lefor said in a statement, adding that it's unacceptable for a lawmaker to try "to use his or her elected position to threaten anyone or skirt the law." In reply to an email, Rios said he had no immediate response. His attorney did not respond to a phone message. In previous comments, Rios said that his behavior toward the police was unacceptable and that he was sorry. He said he'd "make sure this never happens again." North Dakota Republican Party Chairwoman Sandi Sanford joined Lefor's call for the resignation, adding that "this violates our core values as Republicans." The GOP controls the House.

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Police body camera footage requested by the AP shows Rios cursing the officer, questioning his English accent, and using homophobic slurs and anti-migrant language. He also said he would call the North Dakota attorney general about the situation. He told the officers they would "regret picking on me because you don't know who ... I am." Forum News Service first reported on Rios' comments. Rios said he was leaving a Christmas party before the Dec. 15 traffic stop. He was charged with misdemeanor counts of drunken driving and refusing to provide a chemical test. He is scheduled for a pretrial conference on Feb. 5 in municipal court. He was elected in 2022.

(More North Dakota stories.)

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