Mark Ronchetti Slams Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for Silencing Sexual Harassment Accuser

Michelle Lujan Grisham, governor of New Mexico, listens during an interview at her office
Steven St John/Bloomberg via Getty Images

During Wednesday evening’s debate, New Mexico Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti blasted Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) for paying $150,000 to a former aide who accused her of sexual harassment and making him sign a nondisclosure agreement.

In the second debate between Ronchetti and Grisham, the candidates were allowed to ask each other one question. Ronchetti used the opportunity to press Grisham about James Hallinan, one of her former staffers, whom she ultimately paid $150,000 after he accused her of sexual assault.

“Governor, I want to ask you about James Hallinan. He was one of your staffers in your last election, and you were in a meeting with him and you grabbed his crotch and you said, ‘Is there anything down here?’” Ronchetti said.

Ronchetti noted that two months after the accusations, Grisham signed a law that outlawed the kind of settlement agreement she entered into with Hallinan.

“Why shouldn’t your victim be able to talk?” Ronchetti asked.

Instead of answering the question, Grisham dismissed Ronchetti’s concerns as “baseless attacks” and criticized him for not holding any political office.

“Mark, again, you have spent your entire campaign attacking my character and my integrity. They are baseless attacks. And you do that including now, to hide from the fact that again, you’re a TV personality with no experience,” Grisham replied.

The Democrat governor claimed she’s been “the most transparent” by disclosing the $150,000 payment to Hallinan.

“And again, when you talk about nondisclosures, we have been the most transparent including providing information about every expenditure audited, independently reviewed,” Grisham said.

Grisham then questioned Ronchetti about misoprostol, a pharmaceutical drug used for chemical abortions. However, Ronchetti dismissed Grisham’s question and accused the governor of making herself the victim.

Ronchetti said:

There we go again. This is what 25 years in government gets you. This gets you a governor who wants to play Jeopardy. She wants to go and get Alex Trebek wound up. “Let me see what I can ask.” And let me tell you something governor, people have had enough of the political games. It’s garbage at this point.

And let’s talk about this: You said you’ve been more transparent than any governor in history. Governor, you grabbed a male staffer’s crotch, a gay male, and then you said, “Is there anything down there?” You then paid him $150,000, governor, and then you made him shut up about it. And now you have the gall to sit up here and not only victimize James Hallinan, but you revictimize him.

Ronchetti then called out Grisham for believing the sexual misconduct accusations against former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) but trying to silence her accuser.

“If you remember back, you said during the Andrew Cuomo scandal, ‘if you don’t believe those who go and bring these charges, then you’re revictimizing,’” Ronchetti said. “So you’re victimizing, revictimizing, and now and the topper of all toppers — you’re creating yourself as the victim.”

Hallinan’s accusations against Grisham were also brought up by the moderators, who asked, “Why would you insist you did nothing wrong but still pay him?”

Grisham’s response to the moderators similarly accused Ronchetti of making “baseless” attacks on her character.

Grisham said:

Well, these are really a continuation of the mark Ronchetti campaign, working diligently on baseless and, frankly, desperate character attacks. You know, we did a couple of things that nobody does. We provided absolute disclosure about this issue and provided that information directly to individuals. We did that because that’s been the issue of our entire government to be transparent. We’re the first administration to be transparent about every single expense.

However, when reports about Grisham’s $150,000 payment to Hallinan surfaced last October, Grisham’s campaign spokesperson claimed the governor settled with Hallinan so she could focus on her response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Jordan Dixon-Hamilton is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at or follow him on Twitter. 


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