SANTA FE – Six allegations of wrongdoing have already been reported this year under the New Mexico Legislature’s revised anti-harassment policy, including three instances involving lawmakers.
However, none of the reports or complaints have triggered full-blown investigations and several were resolved internally by those involved, according to the Legislature’s administrative arm.
While the Legislative Council Service has declined to disclose specific details or the identities of involved parties for complaints in which a review found no evidence to warrant formal charges of wrongdoing, the allegations could signal a growing sensitivity – and awareness – toward harassment at the Roundhouse.
According to the Legislative Council Service, one of the complaints was filed by a legislator against another legislator, but was dismissed after being reviewed by legislative leaders and an outside attorney.
Another complaint was filed by a legislator against a lobbyist, while a third report involved allegations against a lawmaker by a legislative staffer. Both of those matters were resolved internally, said Jon Boller, a Legislative Council Service attorney.
The other three allegations that have surfaced since Jan. 1 did not involve lawmakers, but instead involved legislative staffers, legislative administrators and a state employee, Boller said.
Both formal complaints and more informal reports can trigger an investigation under the revised policy, which was adopted by top-ranking lawmakers in January 2018 after a slew of sexual misconduct claims in New Mexico and around the nation.
So far, only one complaint under the revised anti-harassment policy has led to an investigation.
That investigation focused on former state Rep. Carl Trujillo, a Nambé Democrat who was accused by a lobbyist last year of propositioning her, touching her inappropriately and retaliating when she rejected his advances.
However, a legislative subcommittee ultimately dismissed the sexual harassment allegations against Trujillo last December, after his accuser refused to testify. Trujillo was defeated in the primary election last year and is no longer a member of the Legislature.
Meanwhile, the creation of a new state ethics commission is not expected to directly affect the Legislature’s handling of harassment complaints, as legislation signed this year by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham leaves intact its authority to investigate its own members.
Under the anti-harassment policy, sexual harassment complaints filed against a sitting legislator are considered by three top-ranking legislators – including lawmakers from both political parties – and an outside expert. If any one of the four individuals believes a complaint merits further investigation within a five-day review period, it is sent to an internal ethics panel for additional scrutiny.