North Dakota Republican lawyers up after report reveals he exchanged 72 texts with alleged pedophile
Ray Holmberg official portrait

On Thursday, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reported that Ray Holmberg, the longest-serving Republican in the North Dakota State Senate, is stepping down as chairman of the Legislative Management Committee and hiring an attorney after a report that connected him to a suspected sex offender.

"Recent events and discussions have made it clear to me that the interim governing body of the legislature, Legislative Management, does not need to be any part of that discussion," said Holmberg in an email on Wednesday. "Consequently, I will be stepping down as chairman of Legislative Management, effective immediately. This will allow Vice-chairman Chet Pollert to complete my term."

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Holmberg, who used to work as a school counselor, had already declined to seek re-election to his seat, which will be up this fall.

"The announcement comes in the wake of an April 15 story by reporter April Baumgarten indicating that Holmberg had exchanged 72 text messages with a man jailed on charges related to child pornography. Holmberg has said he no longer has the text messages exchanged with 34-year-old Nicholas James Morgan-Derosier and has subsequently changed his phone numbers," reported Rob Port. "Holmberg has not resigned as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, a position which also places him on the influential Emergency Commission alongside Gov. Doug Burgum and other legislative leaders."

According to the report, "Holmberg also has retained the services of Fargo-based criminal defense attorney Mark Friese, who works with the Vogel Law Firm."

Morgan-Derosier has been charged with receiving and distributing child porn, possessing child porn, transporting minors with intent for those children to engage in sexual activity, and traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual activity.

Holmberg told The Forum last week that his text messages with Morgan-Derosier were related to "a variety of things" and he was unaware at the time that Morgan-Derosier was facing serious charges.

You can read more here.

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