May 2, 2018

Animal protection advocate says state representative sexually harassed her

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The New Mexico State Capitol, or Roundhouse Wikicommons.

An advocate for an animal rights organization says a state representative should step down because he sexually harassed her.

The advocate, Laura Bonar, is the Chief program and policy officer for Animal Protection Voters and Animal Protection of New Mexico according to the organization’s website. She said in a post on BravaNM,  a platform for Democratic women, that while she lobbied for animal protection legislation at the New Mexico Legislature, Rep. Carl Trujillo, D-Santa Fe,  propositioned her and touched her inappropriately. She added, in the letter addressed to Trujillo “held your power as a state legislator over my head, making it clear that passion for my cause would get me nowhere unless I demonstrated ‘passion’ for you.”

Rep. Carl Trujillo responded Wednesday afternoon saying “these charges are lies” and he vowed to not resign and stay in the race for reelection.

She said the events occurred during the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions, and when she objected he “stalled work on animal protection legislation.”

Her attorney, Levi Minagle, told NM Political Report that “the letter speaks for itself” and Bonar will not be speaking further at this time.

“Now is the time to look in the mirror and decide whether or not you can live with yourselves for the choice you’re making to stay silent,” Trujillo said in his statement. “Life is long and conscience weighs heavily over the years. Mine is clean. Is yours?”

Democratic leadership in the state House said they would abide by the sexual harassment policies passed by the Legislature earlier this year and called the allegations “serious and deeply troubling.”

“The Legislature recently adopted a strong policy to address sexual harassment, which we will follow in this case. In the coming days, the Speaker, the Majority Leader, and the Minority Leader will meet with outside counsel as called for in the policy, to determine how to proceed and to consider Ms. Bonar’s wishes regarding an investigation,” the joint statement said. “Sexual harassment has no place in the Legislature or in our society and will not be tolerated.”

Animal Protection Voters Executive Director Elisabeth Jennings wrote in a statement that the she and the board support Bonar.

“It is our responsibility to do everything we can to ensure a safe working environment for our staff, and to maintain the integrity of our elections endorsement process,” Jennings said. “For those reasons, Animal Protection Voters has decided not to endorse Rep. Carl Trujillo in House District 46 and believe he should resign and withdraw from the race.”

No current state legislator in New Mexico has been publicly accused of sexual harassment during their time as a legislator before Bonar’s letter.

State Sen. Michael Padilla ended his run for Lt. Governor and lost his spot in Senate leadership because of sexual harassment allegations that led to settlements by the city of Albuquerque a decade ago.

Lobbyist Vanessa Alarid said former State Rep. Thomas A. Garcia asked for her to trade sex for a vote on a bill she lobbied for. Garcia denied doing so. Garcia last served in the state legislature in 2012.

Update: Added response from Rep. Carl Trujillo.

Update: Added response from Democratic House leadership.