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Legislator’s defeat won’t halt harassment inquiry

SANTA FE – The primary election defeat of state Rep. Carl Trujillo won’t halt an ongoing internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations leveled last month against the three-term lawmaker from Nambé.

Rep. Carl Trujillo

A four-member House subcommittee, working with an outside attorney, launched an investigation last month at the request of a lobbyist who alleged Trujillo sexually harassed her.

The panel’s work has been cloaked in secrecy, but the director of the Legislature’s administrative arm said Wednesday that the probe would continue despite Trujillo’s loss – by an unofficial margin of roughly 300 votes – to fellow Democrat Andrea Romero of Santa Fe in the House District 46 race.

“The primary election results do not affect the status of the investigation,” Legislative Council Service Director Raúl Burciaga told the Journal.

Trujillo has strongly denied the allegations against him.

Laura Bonar, a staffer for an animal welfare group, posted a public letter last month with claims that she was sexually harassed on multiple occasions by Trujillo as they worked together on legislation in 2013 and 2014.

Specifically, Bonar accused Trujillo of propositioning her, touching her inappropriately and retaliating when she rejected his advances. She also called on him to resign.

Trujillo, who serves as vice chairman of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee, has previously described the allegations as politically motivated lies.

He did not respond to several messages seeking comment this week, but he told KANW-FM on Election Day that he’s been cooperating with the internal investigation and supports the #MeToo movement.

However, he also said, “We’re getting to the position in this country where somebody is immediately found to be guilty (once they’re accused of sexual harassment). That sets a whole different precedent, and it’s not what our Founding Fathers wanted for this country.”

The investigation into the allegations against Trujillo is the first of its kind under a revised anti-harassment policy adopted by top-ranking lawmakers earlier this year.

After investigating the complaint, the subcommittee can decide whether probable cause exists to recommend disciplinary action against Trujillo. Such sanctions can include reprimand, censure or expulsion.

However, the full House would have to vote on any such discipline, and the Legislature is not scheduled to convene until January. Trujillo’s two-year term ends in December, though he could step down before then.