New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s gubernatorial campaign paid at least $62,500 in a settlement with a former aide, who alleges the Democrat lawmaker engaged in sexual misconduct towards him.
The Albuquerque Journal reports:
In a written statement Monday, campaign spokesman Jared Leopold said the payments are part of a settlement resolving “numerous dubious and disputed potential claims made by [James Hallinan] arising from his employment in 2018 with the campaign organization and his subsequent search for employment.”
Hallinan, who now runs his own communications company, accused Lujan Grisham in late 2019 — about a year after he left the campaign — of pouring a bottle of water on his crotch and then grabbing his crotch through his clothes as she laughed, an incident he said took place in front of other campaign staffers.
Leopold said the campaign opted to reach a settlement in order to avoid the cost of high legal fees.
Grisham and her team “strenuously deny that there is any merit or truth to Mr. Hallinan’s claims, including his claims about difficulty finding or keeping work after the campaign,” the campaign spokesman stated. “They reached a settlement in order to avoid the continuing distraction and significant expense of possible litigation and allow them to concentrate on working for the people of New Mexico during this pandemic.”
Grisham did not issue her own statement regarding the matter.
Hallinan first went public with his claims against Grishman on Christmas morning in 2019, according to The Albuquerque Journal
“A governor … is not above the law for her sexual and physical abuse of employees including (me!!!) I’ll talk more when I return to the country,” he tweeted at the time.
The Republican Governors Association issued a statement criticizing Grisham after the settlement became public, noting that the New Mexico Democrat had denied the allegations against her for years.
“After years of vehement denial, Governor Lujan Grisham’s now revealed sexual harassment settlement certainly raises questions of why she tried to discredit her alleged victim,” RGA spokesman Will Reinert said. “Where there is smoke there is usually fire, and Lujan Grisham just wrote a check for $62,500 worth of kindling.”