New Mexico Legislature seeks anti-harassment training

SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico legislative leaders have begun a review of workplace harassment guidelines and preventative training, as decade-old accusations roil a state senator’s campaign for lieutenant governor.

The Legislature’s “no harassment policy” outlines steps for confronting and investigating sexual misconduct among lawmakers, legislative staff, lobbyists, vendors and others.

It is being reviewed as three Democratic Party youth groups called Wednesday for state Sen. Michael Padilla to withdraw from the race for lieutenant governor and resign from the Legislature because of allegations that he harassed women at a prior job in 2006.

“We don’t want this kind of behavior in our party,” said Jackie Luchini, board president for the University of New Mexico College Democrats, one of the groups. “From now on, we don’t want to see any candidate run who has a history of sexual harassment, sexual assault or sexual violence.”

Padilla, who was elected to the state Senate in 2012, has long denied allegations that he describes as hostile workplace issues unrelated to sexual harassment.

The last time New Mexico lawmakers underwent specific training for sexual misconduct issues was in 2004, according to the Legislature’s legal services office.

Republican Rep. Monica Youngblood of Albuquerque said she doesn’t believe there is a simple enough process for women lawmakers and aides to file sexual harassment complaints. That keeps many from coming forward in the New Mexico Statehouse, she said.

If the New Mexico House and Senate adopt a simpler process, “I wouldn’t be surprised if you start seeing more women come forward,” she said.

Senate majority leader Peter Wirth said he is suggesting new preventative training on harassment before the Legislature convenes in January.

Misconduct accusations against Padilla prior to his Senate career are outlined in two federal lawsuits that describe harassing behavior against women while Padilla helped Albuquerque overhaul a problem-plagued emergency call center in 2006.

The city ended up settling claims of a “sexually hostile work environment” stemming from Padilla’s six-week tenure as a supervisor.

Gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham has urged Padilla to end his campaign that could pair them together on the Democratic ticket in 2018.

Padilla issued a lengthy statement Wednesday that said his situation is distinct from sexual harassment accusations generating national attention.

The statement says he “recognizes and understands the seriousness of the larger issues regarding sexual harassment. Some individuals may be conflating two distinct matters.”

Statehouses nationwide are grappling with allegations of sexual misconduct and what new preventative measures may be taken to deter bad behavior and ensure confidence in the complaint process.

New Mexico’s Legislature relies on a two-page written policy, last updated in 2008, for addressing reported incidents of harassment, including sexual harassment.

Initial investigations are handled internally by legislative agency directors or chief clerks, with confidentiality “respected to the greatest extent possible.” The policy prohibits retaliation, without elaborating on safeguards or procedures.

Separately, the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office announced it would encourage political lobbyists to undergo voluntary training to prevent sexual harassment. Lobbyist registration forms will contain a new check-box to indicate whether lobbyists have undergone training or not.

Wirth said state lawmakers also may receive new training on broader ethics matters in response to the corruption trial and conviction this month of former state Sen. Phil Griego on fraud and bribery charges related to his work as a lawmaker.

___

Associated Press writer Russell Contreras contributed to this report from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

___

Follow Morgan Lee at https://twitter.com/MLeeAP and Russell Contreras at http://twitter.com/russcontreras

Share Your Story

Nativo Sponsored Content

Ad Tango


taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
Caja del Rio energizes us culturally and environmentally
ABQnews Seeker
Humility, responsibility and selflessness. Religious or ... Humility, responsibility and selflessness. Religious or not, one can easily recognize the importance ...
2
TOP OF MIND: Should Bernalillo County and the city ...
ABQnews Seeker
This week's question: Since the president ... This week's question: Since the president has mandated vaccines for federal workers, contractors, military and private businesses of 100 or more, should Bernalillo County ...
3
Recall effort against Cowboys for Trump founder falls behind
ABQnews Seeker
Organizers say they are about 400 ... Organizers say they are about 400 signatures short of the 1,574 needed
4
Hot commodity: Hatch vaulted New Mexico chile to the ...
ABQnews Seeker
T he sound echoes like drums ... T he sound echoes like drums across the field, as green chile peppers – thick, ripe and heav ...
5
Roommate arrested after ABQ woman is set on fire
ABQnews Seeker
Victim was doused with gasoline, is ... Victim was doused with gasoline, is flown to burn center in Lubbock
6
APD: Drugs could be linked to fatal crash
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque police say narcotics appear to ... Albuquerque police say narcotics appear to be a factor in a Friday night crash on East ...
7
Face to Face with JoAnn Mitchell: MAS Charter School ...
ABQnews Seeker
Structure, hard work keys to success ... Structure, hard work keys to success with kids born into poverty
8
Chimayó chile a symbol of the Southwest
ABQnews Seeker
Along the rugged foothills of the ... Along the rugged foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains is a crescent-shaped valley, carved wit ...
9
In a tough season, manager Schaeffer has steadied the ...
ABQnews Seeker
Luis Barrera legged out an infield ... Luis Barrera legged out an infield single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning on Aug. 23 in Las Vegas, Nevada. ...