New Mexico Governor pays $150,000 to settle sexual harassment claim from former campaign spokesman

Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham pays $150,000 to settle sexual harassment claim from former campaign spokesman who says she poured a bottle of water on his lap then grabbed his crotch in a meeting

Democratic New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has paid $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim from a former campaign spokesman, new documents reveal. 

James Hallinan has alleged that, while running for governor, Lujan Grisham poured a bottle of water on his crotch during a meeting before grabbing his crotch and laughing. 

Lujan Grisham denies any sexual harassment, and also denies that Hallinan struggled to find a job after leaving her campaign, as he claims.

In April, it was revealed that Lujan’s campaign had paid $62,500 to a law firm representing Hallinan, but documents filed on Monday disclosed a schedule of payments between April and September totalling $150,000.

The final payment was made on September 29, according to The Albuquerque Journal. 

James Hallinan has alleged that, while running for governor, Michell Lujan Grisham (pictured) poured a bottle of water on his crotch during a meeting before grabbing his crotch and laughing. Lujan Grisham denies any sexual harassment [File photo]

James Hallinan has alleged that, while running for governor, Michell Lujan Grisham (pictured) poured a bottle of water on his crotch during a meeting before grabbing his crotch and laughing. Lujan Grisham denies any sexual harassment [File photo]

Kendall Witmer, a spokeswoman for Lujan Grisham’s campaign, told the paper that it had reached the settlement last year ‘due to the expense of litigating business disputes and to prevent any distraction during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.’

Hallinan came forward with his claim in 2019, alleging that then-campaign manager Dominic Gabello persuaded him not to report it at the time. 

Gabello, who became a senior policy adviser to the governor before stepping down in April to pursue other career opportunities, denies the claim. 

It is thought he will play a significant role in Lujan Grisham’s reelection bid next year.

The payments to the law firm are legal under state law because they relate to an employment dispute, according to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office.

However, they have been described as ‘hush money’ by the state’s Republican Party.

In a statement on Monday, party spokesman Mike Curtis branded Lujan Grisham as ‘a habitual hypocrite’. 

‘During former New York Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo’s sex scandal, Lujan Grisham cried out for transparency and a full investigation. 

‘When she’s the accused, however, our Governor sweeps it under the rug and pays off her accuser with cash, disguised conveniently as ‘legal expenses’ in campaign finance reports. 

Hallinan (pictured) came forward with his claim in 2019, alleging that then-campaign manager Dominic Gabello persuaded him not to report it at the time. Gabello denies this

Hallinan (pictured) came forward with his claim in 2019, alleging that then-campaign manager Dominic Gabello persuaded him not to report it at the time. Gabello denies this

‘When she’s the accused, however, our Governor sweeps it under the rug and pays off her accuser with cash, disguised conveniently as ‘legal expenses’ in campaign finance reports.

‘The Governor’s latest payments again expose her hypocrisy and her true character,’ added Curtis.     

‘Sexual harassment is a serious offense, and she seems satisfied to pay her way out,’ Republican National Committeewoman Tina Dziuk added. 

‘This is offensive, and tells you a great deal about her moral character. She doesn’t deserve a second term.’

The first news of the payments came one year after the governor signed a bill into state law limiting the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in sexual misconduct cases.

The law, signed in March and going into effect in May 2020, banned employers from requiring employees to sign NDAs about sexual harassment, assault, discrimination or retaliation claims.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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