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Rep. Trujillo refuses to resign, will fight sex harassment claim

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – State Rep. Carl Trujillo – who lost his re-election campaign amid a sexual harassment investigation – said Wednesday that he has no plans to resign and will continue to fight the case against him.

And he wouldn’t rule out running for political office again at some point.

Carl Trujillo

Trujillo, a Democrat from Nambé, is scheduled to leave office at the end of the year, after his loss in the June 5 primary election to Andrea Romero of Santa Fe.

Last week, a confidential internal investigation by a House panel concluded that there’s sufficient evidence to move forward with a formal charge against Trujillo on allegations that he sexually harassed a lobbyist in 2014 by making suggestive comments and pulling her aside in a Roundhouse hallway.

Trujillo denies anything like that ever happened. Instead, the allegations are politically motivated lies, he said, timed to damage his re-election bid.

“I think it was orchestrated – absolutely,” Trujillo told Journal reporters Wednesday.

Now, he faces public hearings on the allegations as the case moves to a larger ethics committee of House members.

A smaller subcommittee – made up of two Democrats and two Republicans – found “probable cause” Friday to move the case forward. It rejected some allegations but found enough evidence to proceed on others.

Trujillo, a scientist and business owner, said he welcomes the chance to make his defense in public. He said that the investigation hasn’t been carried out in compliance with House rules but that he sees no reason to resign or stop fighting.

“At this point, I might as well – I’ve come this far,” he said.

Asked whether he would ever run for office again, Trujillo said, “I don’t rule out anything.”

Trujillo won election to the House in 2012, defeating David Coss, then the mayor of Santa Fe, in the primary for the open seat in the heavily Democratic district.

Meanwhile, an attorney for Laura Bonar of Animal Protection Voters – the woman who accused Trujillo of propositioning her – said he has his own concerns about the investigation.

Levi Monagle, the attorney, said that he disagreed with some of the investigative findings but that the report prepared by lawyers working for the House subcommittee is clearly the “product of a thorough, fact-oriented, neutral investigative process by trained, experienced legal professionals.”

But now, he said, the case is turned over to a House committee made up of elected officials, introducing the possibility of political bias.

“The notion that a decision about evidence – evidence of what happened, or didn’t happen – should be removed from the purview of professional evidence-analyzers and placed in the hands of elected officials makes little sense to me,” Monagle told the Journal. “It is indicative of a process that, unfortunately, remains driven by political calculus, not by evidentiary calculus. That process needs to be improved, if it is to adequately address the needs of victims of harassment.”