December 8, 2017

Lobbyist says ex-legislator asked to trade sex for a vote

Matthew Reichbach

The New York Times reported a former state representative in New Mexico told a female lobbyist he would vote for a bill a client supported if she had sex with him, then kissed her.

That was part of a story the newspaper wrote about lobbyists facing sexual harassment in state capitals around the nation.

The allegation brought up by Vanessa Alarid, still a prominent lobbyist, accused former State Rep. Thomas A. Garcia of making the proposition and the unwanted kiss.

Garcia was a member of the Legislature for three terms, from 2006 to 2012.

The Democrat denied the allegation.

“I held the institution of the Legislature with too high regard to do anything that would provide any kind of personal gain, financial or otherwise,’’ he told The New York Times.

But two former legislators—Democrat Sandra Jeff and Republican Rod Adair—told the paper Alarid told them what happened afterward, as did Will Steadman, who supervised Alarid for the SunCal, the land developer she lobbied for.

The bill itself failed in the Legislature, and Garcia was among those who voted against it.

Democratic leaders in the House and Senate weighed in on Twitter:

State Rep. Kelly Fajardo, R-Los Lunas, also told The New York Times that she witnessed a text from “an older, powerful legislator” who asked  a lobbyist to go to his hotel room.

Fajardo previously wrote a letter saying she “witnessed instances of harassment” in the Roundhouse.

The news came the same day that the Albuquerque Journal reported the state Legislature refused to release two sexual harassment complaints. The Legislative Council Service cited an exception in the state’s open records law that protects matters of opinion in personnel files from being released.

However, records can be released with matters of opinion redacted.

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

Update: Added tweets by Brian Egolf and Peter Wirth.