WASHINGTON – Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham – a Democratic candidate for governor – has obtained a restraining order against a transgender former intern who protested the congresswoman’s speech at the Democratic pre-primary convention in Albuquerque earlier this month.
The 2nd Judicial District Court in Bernalillo County granted Lujan Grisham’s request for a restraining order against Riley Del Rey, a former Capitol Hill intern, on Friday after Lujan Grisham claimed she was “fearful” of her.
Lujan Grisham said in court documents that she “believes Ms. Del Rey intends to cause her serious harm or her behavior will harm other people in public settings.”
In a Journal interview Tuesday, Del Rey denied any intent to physically harm the congresswoman.
The legal dust-up comes after Del Rey loudly interrupted Lujan Grisham’s speech at the Democratic pre-primary convention on March 10. Del Rey was arrested by police at the convention and charged with misdemeanor disturbing the peace and “possible assault,” which will be reviewed by the Bernalillo County district attorney. She spent one night in jail.
The congresswoman’s complaint also says the former intern “barged into a room” and “disrupted” an event where she was speaking in Santa Fe on Feb. 11.
Del Rey contends she was discriminated against and fired from her Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute internship in Lujan Grisham’s office in 2015 for being transgender. The institute told the Journal late last year that she was fired for poor work performance. The institute manages a congressional internship program and places the interns in the offices of members of Congress.
The restraining order says Del Rey “shall not threaten, harm, harass, or annoy Michelle Lujan Grisham or others around her,” and must stay at least 100 yards away from the congresswoman. The restraining order is good for 10 days unless extended or modified.
Lujan Grisham spokesman Nathan Schelble told the Journal on Tuesday that the court granted the restraining order “after reviewing evidence of Ms. Del Rey’s recent escalating threatening behavior toward Rep. Lujan Grisham and those around her.”
Lujan Grisham’s application for the restraining order noted that Del Rey was scheduled to be in Washington on Tuesday to participate in mediation of a complaint she filed against Lujan Grisham’s office with the House Office of Compliance in connection with her firing in 2015. The application said the congresswoman would “not be personally participating in the mediation for safety reasons.”
In a phone interview Tuesday, Del Rey said she was in Washington and participated in the mediation session, although the congresswoman did not. Del Rey said she suspects Lujan Grisham filed for the restraining order to disrupt her ability to participate in the hearing and “so she wouldn’t have to be in the same room with me to discuss it and to prevent me from speaking to other members of Congress about it.”
Schelble denied the accusation.
“The TRO (temporary restraining order) has absolutely no impact on Ms. Del Rey’s ability to engage in dispute resolution or any other legal process available to her under the law,” he said.
Del Rey denied any desire to cause physical harm.
“I’ve never done anything but voice my political dissidence against her and disrupt her speeches,” Del Rey said. “My protests have been disruptive, but they’ve never placed her in harm other than hurt feelings and disagreement. There has never been any threat of physical harm.”
Del Rey has a court hearing set for Friday, but she said she is seeking a continuance until she can return from Washington.
Journal staff writer Katy Barnitz contributed to this story.