North Dakota lawmaker's district GOP echoes call on him to resign after slurs to police in DUI stop

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — 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.

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.

The local party joins Republican House Majority Leader Mike Lefor and state party officials who on Tuesday called on Rios to resign after the Dec. 15 traffic stop, during which he blasted Williston police with profane, homophobic and anti-migrant language.

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.

He did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press for comment on the district party committee's statement.

Rios also previously said he takes responsibility for his “disgusting actions," and apologized “to those I have hurt and disappointed," including law enforcement officers. He added that he is “100% committed to making repairs for my actions and straightening out my life.”

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. He sits on the House Judiciary Committee, a panel that handles law enforcement legislation.

District 23 is a new legislative district, drawn in 2021 in the state's growing oil field. Republicans control the North Dakota House, 82-12.