December 18, 2017

Senate Dems remove Padilla from leadership

Responding to renewed attention on sexual harassment, New Mexico Democrats removed Sen. Michael Padilla from his position as Majority Whip in the chamber on Saturday.

The move comes two weeks after Padilla dropped out of the race for Lieutenant Governor.

Democrats in Senate leadership released laudatory statements when announcing the caucus voted to vacate the whip position.

“Senator Padilla is a valued member of the New Mexico state Senate,” Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, said. “We look forward to supporting his ongoing legislative efforts to create jobs and help New Mexico families.”

Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen also praised Padilla.

“I appreciate everything Senator Padilla has accomplished,” the Las Cruces Democrat said. “He is a strong and compassionate advocate for the people of New Mexico.”

A decade ago, when working for the City of Albuquerque, Padilla faced a suit in federal court from five women for creating a hostile work environment and sexual harassment. Padilla resigned, but denied the allegations.

According to one allegation, he told some employees, “women make tortillas, take care of the kids and clean the house.”

Padilla has consistently denied the allegations, even as the City of Albuquerque settled lawsuits for nearly $250,000.

Senate Democrats will vote on a new whip next year.