A top official with a local economic development organization has been banned from state and city economic development meetings and properties following an incident in which he is accused of making an inappropriate remark to a state employee during a business dinner.
Scott Powell, the executive vice president of Albuquerque Regional Economic Alliance, will serve his last day March 31, according to AREA president and CEO Danielle Casey.
Casey received a joint letter from the city and state informing her of the ban on Jan. 20, following an incident that took place 10 days earlier, according to email exchanges and letters obtained by the Journal. State and city officials verified the authenticity of those communiques.
Casey declined to comment on the specifics of Powell’s departure saying they are “private personnel matters.” Powell did not respond to multiple attempts to reach him by phone, text and email.
The letter, signed by NMEDD Secretary Alicia Keyes and Albuquerque Economic Development Director Max Gruner, informed Casey of their decision to ban Powell from meetings, client meetings and property administered by the state’s and city’s economic development departments after the alleged incident on Jan. 10.
The alleged incident, which occurred at the Artichoke Cafe, came as state and economic development officials – including Keyes, Speaker of the House Javier Martínez and New Mexico Partnership Economic Development Associate Justyn Bellitto, among others – met with a European-based manufacturer for a three-day site visit, according to an email sent by state Economic Development Division Director Mark Roper to Casey.
Powell sat at a table with a group of officials, which included company, state and economic development agency representatives.
During the dinner, one attendee mentioned she had just gotten engaged and shared some of her engagement pictures. Powell told her that if he wasn’t married and she weren’t engaged, “I’d be all over you,” according to Roper’s email to Casey. Roper said he verified the account of the incident with others at the table, who also told him Powell was loud and unprofessional during the meal.
Casey responded on Jan. 25 with a letter stating disciplinary action was taken against Powell, including that he would undergo “required remedial sensitivity and sexual harassment training.” She concluded by saying “through additional reference checks and interviews, I received no evidence or indication of this type of behavior in the past.”
In an apology letter sent to Keyes on Jan. 25, which was transmitted by email, Powell said he understood he made comments that “made multiple individuals uncomfortable,” while adding that it wasn’t his intention to disrespect anyone or display unprofessional conduct.
Powell finished the letter by saying he made a mistake that he “will learn from and take as a costly lesson for the remainder of my career.”
According to AREA, Powell joined the economic development organization late last year and previously worked as the executive vice president of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council.