Dem with controversial past files for State House seat

Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, has a primary challenger, and he comes with a controversial past. Chris Berkheimer, a Democrat with ties to former Gov. Bill Richardson, is aiming for her seat. Trujillo hasn’t filed yet, but is expected to before the end of the day. Richardson appointed Berkheimer to judgeship for the Workers Compensation Administration […]

Dem with controversial past files for State House seat

Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, has a primary challenger, and he comes with a controversial past.

The New Mexico House of Representatives.
The New Mexico House of Representatives.

Chris Berkheimer, a Democrat with ties to former Gov. Bill Richardson, is aiming for her seat. Trujillo hasn’t filed yet, but is expected to before the end of the day.

Richardson appointed Berkheimer to judgeship for the Workers Compensation Administration in 2007. Berkheimer didn’t last long in the position.

That same year, Berkheimer was put on leave for allegedly making sexual advances to an injured female worker during mediation. Berkheimer’s conduct, which was caught on video, prompted the state Supreme Court in 2009 to suspend his law license for up to three years.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, a document from a hearing committee looking into Berkheimer’s allegations at the time states that he “made aggressive, inappropriate proposals of a sexual nature to (the woman), touched her inappropriately and requested that she accompany him to a bar and/or a hotel. He went with her outside the hearing room and continued to make inappropriate proposals.”

Berkheimer’s version of the story at the time denied any wrongdoing. Instead, he said that the woman invited him to feel screws in her wrist and that he hit her knee on accident when he attempted to grab his briefcase.

Berkheimer responded to questions from NM Political Report with a statement.

“Responding to your question about the incident at Worker’s Comp nine years ago, I have apologized to everyone I needed to apologize to for the situation,” he said. “I am moving on with my life and I hope that others, especially voters (11,500 of whom voted for me in 2004), are moving on with theirs too.”

“Finally, I have PTSD from my service as an artilleryman in Desert Storm. It leads to any number of issues,” Berkheimer continued. “I’m tired after 25 years having this condition watching Combat Veterans get abused by the system. I have experienced it personally and have heard hundreds of stories from Vets of all generations who have gone through similar experiences.”

Berkheimer’s reference to 2004 was in a race against then-Senator Diane Snyder in Senate District 15. He lost 11,228 votes to 10,105 votes in the general election.

The alleged sexual harassment incident came just six days into Berkheimer’s role as a judge in the Worker’s Compensation Administration. Richardson appointed Berkheimer to that position, as well as to the position of mediator in the same agency, which Berkheimer served for a few years before.

Under Richardson, Berkheimer also worked for the state Office of Homeland Security. In the ‘90s, Berkheimer worked as a national security aide to Richardson when he was a congressman.

As of this posting, no Republican filed to run for the position.

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied and dismissed the effort to challenge six laws enacted in 2023. The New Mexico Supreme…
Governor to call special session for public safety legislation this summer

Governor to call special session for public safety legislation this summer

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she will call the Legislature into a special session this summer to address public safety legislation that did…
Emily’s List endorses seven candidates for Legislature

Emily’s List endorses seven candidates for Legislature

Emily’s List, a nonprofit that supports women candidates and reproductive rights, endorsed seven incumbents facing general election opponents in New Mexico legislative elections. All…
NM receives $156M to boost access to solar

NM receives $156M to boost access to solar

New Mexico will receive millions in federal money to increase access to solar power. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced recipients of the $7…
Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a final rule Friday to designate two types of PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances. Those two chemicals are perfluorooctanoic…
BLM finalizes controversial public lands rule

BLM finalizes controversial public lands rule

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management finalized its controversial public lands rule on Thursday. This rule is controversial because it allows for conservation leasing…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican A challenging task awaits New Mexico lawmakers in the next 30 days: Reconciling three very different…
Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Amy Maxmen, KFF Health News Four years after hospitals in New York City overflowed with covid-19 patients, emergency physician Sonya Stokes remains shaken by…
Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Friday $10 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act was awarded to six tribal nations and…
Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

The House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee discussed a potential constitutional amendment that seeks to limit the governor’s executive powers. The committee approved…
Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

An abortion fund provider unveiled a rebrand and offered an open house in Las Cruces to celebrate the organization’s new name, mission and values. …
Stansbury introduces judicial ethics bill on U.S. Supreme Court steps

Stansbury introduces judicial ethics bill on U.S. Supreme Court steps

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury announced a bill on Thursday that would, if enacted, establish judicial ethics to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Judicial Ethics…
Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

At the national level, abortion is still a high-stakes issue with both major presidential candidates talking about it in their campaigns, but it may…
Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

An abortion fund provider unveiled a rebrand and offered an open house in Las Cruces to celebrate the organization’s new name, mission and values. …
Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

At the national level, abortion is still a high-stakes issue with both major presidential candidates talking about it in their campaigns, but it may…
How the AZ Supreme Court decision on abortion impacts New Mexico

How the AZ Supreme Court decision on abortion impacts New Mexico

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that an 1864 abortion ban is enforceable, throwing another state bordering New Mexico into the situation of…
Progressives going after incumbents in hot Democratic primaries

Progressives going after incumbents in hot Democratic primaries

By Justin Horwath, NM In Depth It’s a safe bet Democrats will barrel into 2025 with their supremacy intact at the New Mexico Legislature.…
Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied and dismissed the effort to challenge six laws enacted in 2023. The New Mexico Supreme…
Vasquez calls out Republicans for ‘inaction’ on border policy

Vasquez calls out Republicans for ‘inaction’ on border policy

U.S. Rep. Gabriel “Gabe” Vasquez, a Democrat who represents the state’s 2nd Congressional District along the U.S.-Mexico border, cosponsored a resolution on Monday calling…
Progressives going after incumbents in hot Democratic primaries

Progressives going after incumbents in hot Democratic primaries

By Justin Horwath, NM In Depth It’s a safe bet Democrats will barrel into 2025 with their supremacy intact at the New Mexico Legislature.…
NM receives $156M to boost access to solar

NM receives $156M to boost access to solar

New Mexico will receive millions in federal money to increase access to solar power. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced recipients of the $7…
Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a final rule Friday to designate two types of PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances. Those two chemicals are perfluorooctanoic…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report