December 4, 2017

Padilla drops out of Lt. Gov. race because of decade-old sexual harassment claims

Laura Paskus

Sen. Michael Padilla in his office, standing with memorabilia of Sister Bladina Segale, who founded schools and hospitals in New Mexico in the 19th century.

State Senator Michael Padilla dropped out of the race for Lieutenant Governor Monday afternoon.

The move came just two weeks after gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham said he should drop out because of past sexual harassment allegations which led to the city of Albuquerque paying out almost $250,000.

Padilla has denied the allegations.

“I do not want to be a distraction as we come together as New Mexicans to solve this unacceptable work place issue,” Padilla said in a statement to media, though not NM Political Report.

Padilla is still the Senate Majority Whip, a leadership position.

Sexual harassment has come under increased scrutiny in recent months after bombshell investigative reports by the New York Times and The New Yorker revealed alleged sexual harassment and assault by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Since then, sexual harassment in many walks of life, including politics, have made headlines.

In Alabama, revelations about Republican candidate Roy Moore have caused the race to be closer than usual in the deep-red state.

Meanwhile, members of Congress including John Conyers, D-Michigan, and Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, are facing calls to step down after reports revealed they paid settlements for sexual harassment.

In New Mexico, legislative leaders announced a working group that would revamp the sexual harassment policies in the Roundhouse. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said her office would provide voluntary sexual harassment training to lobbyists.

Rep. Kelly Fajardo, R-Los Lunas, wrote a letter saying she “witnessed instances of harassment” in the Roundhouse.

Padilla’s decision was first reported just minutes after a group of Democratic women announced a press conference to urge him to step down. The group canceled the press conference after his announcement. .

Padilla attended campaign events as late as Sunday, according to his Facebook page. He attended a holiday fundraiser for the Bernalillo County federation of Democratic Women.