May 9, 2018

Investigation, new calls for Trujillo to resign over sexual harassment allegations

The seal of the state of New Mexico in the House

Members of the state House announced a panel will investigate sexual harassment claims against State Rep. Carl Trujillo. Three  of his colleagues have already called on him to resign.

The investigative subcommittee, made up of two Democrats and two Republicans from the Interim Legislative Ethics Committee, will work with outside counsel and staff to investigate the allegations by Laura Bonar against the Santa Fe Democrat. Last week, Bonar said that Trujillo sexually harassed her. Trujillo responded by saying the “charges are lies” and withstood calls for him to resign.

Then, late Tuesday, state Reps. Miguel Garcia, Christine Trujillo and Debra Sariñana, all from Albuquerque, sent a letter to colleagues calling on him to resign. “While we fully support an internal investigation, as provided for in the new House Anti-Harassment Policy, we fear such an investigation may not do justice to these women who, for legitimate reasons, find it too great a risk to publicly disclose what happened to them,” according to their letter. Trujillo responded with a statement.

“I’m troubled that we’ve created a culture where we’re expected to believe anything someone says based solely on their gender, and in which I’m expected to pretend there is any truth to these allegations solely out of political correctness,” Trujillo said. He also called the allegations “vicious and politically motivated lies. “

“The fact that we have four Legislators make judgement as judge and jury without due process is particularly troubling to our Democratic process and caucus,” Trujillo said.

Last Friday, State Rep. Deborah Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, said at least two other women told her they were sexually harassed by Trujillo.

Trujillo called the allegations a “witch hunt” in response to Armstrong.

The Legislature implemented its sexual harassment policy last year after lobbyist Vanessa Alarid said former State Rep. Thomas A. Garcia told her he would vote for a bill she lobbied for if she had sex with him. Garcia, who last served in the state Legislature in 2012, denied the allegation.

This came under the backdrop of more attention on sexual harassment nationwide following stories that implicated Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. The New Yorker and The New York Times won a joint Pulitzer prize and many other outlets followed in reporting sexual harassment in other industries and walks of life.

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 before his political career.