Panel cites evidence of harassment by New Mexico lawmaker
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Investigators say there is credible evidence a New Mexico state lawmaker who recently lost in the Democratic primary sexually harassed a lobbyist on two separate occasions.
A new report by a special counsel released last week backed up two allegations by Animal Protection Voters staffer Laura Bonar that state Rep. Carl Trujillo made inappropriate advances toward her in 2013 and 2014.
A bipartisan subcommittee was elected late last week to press ahead with a case against Trujillo and hold an open hearing on the matter before a larger panel of legislators.
The ethics subcommittee, composed of two Democrats and two Republicans, adopted its findings and recommendations Friday.
That decision is not a conclusion, just the next step in what is a rare process. And it remains unclear when such a hearing might convene.
That committee, after holding its hearings, could then recommend disciplinary action against Trujillo to the full Legislative Ethics Committee. But it would be up to the full 70-member House to ultimately vote on reprimand, censure or expulsion from the body.
Trujillo, a business owner and scientist from Nambe, has adamantly denied any wrongdoing and a lawyer representing him said Saturday that the lawmaker will continue to fight the allegations.
“Representative Trujillo has a long and distinguished record of service to our community, and he will continue to vigorously defend his honor and reputation from these false and slanderous accusations,” lawyer Travis Jackson said in an email. “He did not sexually harass lobbyist Laura Bonar in any way at any time.”
Trujillo lost a primary election in June to upstart candidate Andrea Romero.
Bonar’s allegations in a letter earlier this year calling for his resignation cast a spotlight on the culture of the Legislature.
Bonar’s accusations spurred some Democrats in the House to join in calling for Trujillo’s resignation.
And Animal Protection Voters, which has touted Trujillo as a champion for its causes, rallied behind Bonar.
Trujillo, however, dismissed the allegations as a politically motivated effort to aid his primary election opponent.
Several lobbyists and lawmakers wrote letters to the subcommittee in support of Trujillo, including Reps. Sarah Maestas Barnes and Monica Youngblood, both Republicans from Albuquerque, and former Rep. Dona Irwin, D-Deming.
Backers have argued elsewhere that the allegations would be out of character for the Los Alamos National Laboratory employee and father.
Top-ranking lawmakers adopted a revised anti-harassment policy this year, just ahead of the 30-day session. It came after allegations of sexual harassment shook up capitols across the country, including the Roundhouse in New Mexico, amid the #MeToo movement.
Trujillo is the first lawmaker to face a formal investigation under the new policy.