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Published March 26, 2010, 10:51 PM

ND Lawmaker Refused Governor's Request to Quit

Rep. Dave Weiler says he is innocent of a charge that he hit his wife.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota state legislator who's accused of punching his wife said Friday he refused Gov. John Hoeven's request that he step down, saying the incident never happened.

"I will not resign. I'm innocent," said Rep. Dave Weiler, R-Bismarck, said. "I'm looking forward to the court case."

Weiler's wife, Nicole Weiler, who works as an aide to the Republican governor, accused her husband of punching her in the face March 11. Dave Weiler was arrested for assault and is free on $500 bond.

The incident happened almost a year after Weiler pleaded guilty to a separate assault charge for shoving his wife to the pavement in a Bismarck parking lot. He was placed on unsupervised probation for a year and ordered to complete a domestic violence treatment program.

The Weilers have two children. The couple lives apart, and Nicole Weiler filed for divorce last month.

Hoeven's spokesman, Don Canton, said the governor relayed his resignation request through his staff lawyer, Ryan Bernstein, who spoke to Weiler's attorney, Chad McCabe.

"It's really up to Dave right now," Canton said. "We're all concerned about Nicole and her kids."

Weiler said Friday he "got a message" from Hoeven asking that he resign, and he declined. Weiler is not up for re-election until 2012, and Hoeven does not have the legal power to remove him from office.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.