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Legislator says rules not followed in harassment inquiry

Rep. Carl Trujillo

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Beleaguered state Rep. Carl Trujillo says an internal legislative investigation into allegations that he sexually harassed a female lobbyist has not adhered to a new anti-harassment policy.

Trujillo, who’s expected to testify before the four-member panel this week, has raised concerns about an outside attorney assisting the investigation, the pace of the probe and whether legislative staff might have violated confidentiality requirements laid out in the policy, according to emails provided by Trujillo’s defense team.

“While I am eager to assist in the investigation and participate in interviews regarding the false allegations of sexual harassment that have been leveled against me, I do have concerns that procedures laid out in legislative rules and policy are not being followed,” Trujillo told the Journal in a statement.

Trujillo also raised concern Monday that one of the outside attorneys hired to help lawmakers conduct the internal investigation has, in the past, made a campaign contribution to a political committee run by House Speaker Brian Egolf, a Santa Fe Democrat. Under the new policy, Egolf was one of the three lawmakers who decided the original allegations merited further scrutiny.

The campaign contribution, Trujillo said, could represent a conflict of interest and cloud the fairness of the investigation.

However, attorney Tom Hnasko of Santa Fe said proper protocol has been followed since the investigation started last month. He said a public announcement about the panel’s creation was a “procedural matter” that did not violate the policy’s confidentiality requirements.

“We have maintained strict confidentiality about the terms and progress of the investigation, and have refused to disclose the identities of witnesses or even the status of the investigation,” said Hnasko, who did not directly address the concerns about the campaign contribution.

The allegations against Trujillo, a three-term Democrat from Nambé, were levied last month by Laura Bonar, a staffer for an animal rights group.

Specifically, Bonar accused Trujillo in a public letter of propositioning her, touching her inappropriately and retaliating when she rejected his advances. The behavior allegedly occurred while the two were working together on legislation in 2013 and 2014. She also called on him to resign.

In response, Trujillo has described the allegations as politically motivated lies. He even took a lie detector test in an attempt to exonerate himself.

“I want nothing more than for this investigation to be completed in a fair, accurate, and timely manner so that my name can be cleared,” Trujillo said in his statement. “I look forward to my concerns being addressed by those involved in this investigation and will cooperate to the fullest extent possible.”

Trujillo, who is vice chairman of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee, was defeated by primary election challenger Andrea Romero on June 5 in a hard-hitting race in which the sexual harassment allegations featured prominently.

Although Trujillo is set to leave office at the end of this year due to his defeat, there are no plans for the internal investigation to be halted, a top Legislative Council Service official has said.

The investigation into the allegations against Trujillo is the first of its kind under a revised anti-harassment policy that top-ranking lawmakers adopted earlier this year in response to increased awareness – both nationally and at the Roundhouse – about sexual misconduct issues.

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.