A North Dakota lawmaker has been stripped of his committee assignment as calls have grown for him to resign after he blasted police with vulgar, homophobic, and anti-migrant language during a traffic stop in which he was arrested on a drunken driving charge.
In a letter requested by The Associated Press, Republican House Majority Leader Mike Lefor on Tuesday notified Republican state Rep. Nico Rios, of Williston, that he has removed him from the Legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee, effective immediately.
The House-Senate panel meets throughout the year and a half between North Dakota’s biennial legislative sessions. The committee handles studies of topics involving law enforcement and the legal system for future and potential legislation.
Lefor said he didn’t think it would be fair for law enforcement officers to testify in front of a committee of which Rios is a member.
Rios did not immediately respond to an email or text message for comment.
Lefor and state and local Republican Party officials called on Rios to resign after the Dec. 15 traffic stop. Lefor said Wednesday he still wants Rios to step down.
Rios has 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. He also previously said he takes responsibility for his “disgusting actions,” and apologized “to those I have hurt and disappointed,” including law enforcement officers.
Police body-camera footage requested by and provided to the AP shows Rios cursing an officer, repeatedly 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.”
Rios has said he was leaving a Christmas party before police pulled him over. 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.
Rios, who works in an oil field position involved in the hydraulic fracturing of wells, was elected unopposed in 2022 to a four-year term in the state House of Representatives. Republicans control the House, 82-12.
Jack Dura, The Associated Press