New Mexico Governor’s Campaign Pays $ 62,500 to Settle Sexual Assault Claim Against Male Ex-executives
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s campaign paid $ 62,500 to settle sexual assault claims from a male ex-staffer who said she poured water on his crotch and then grabbed it.
Lujan Grisham’s governor campaign made five payments of $ 12,500 each month from November to March to an Atlanta-based law firm representing James Hallinan.
Hallinan first accused the Democratic governor of pouring a bottle of water on his crotch in late 2019 while laughing and then grabbing his crotch through his clothes in front of other campaign executives.
The alleged incident took place at a 2018 rally when Lujan Grisham ran for governor and Hallinan served as her campaign spokesperson.
The campaign of New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (photo in March) paid $ 62,500 to settle sexual assault claims from a male ex-employee who said she poured water on his crotch and then grip
It’s not clear when the settlement was agreed, and the payout will only come to light as part of a campaign finance report filed with the secretary of state on Monday.
The five monthly payments are listed in the report as a legal fee and it is not clear whether further payments will be made in the coming months, the Albuquerque Journal who first reported on the deal.
Jared Leopold, a spokesman for the governor, confirmed to the newspaper that the payments were part of a settlement agreement that resolved “ numerous questionable and disputed potential claims by Mr. Hallinan arising from his 2018 employment with the campaign organization and his subsequent search for employment opportunities. ‘
Leopold insisted that Lujan Grisham and her campaign team continue to “ firmly ” deny Hallinans’ allegations, but said a settlement had been reached to avoid distraction and litigation costs.
[The governor, Senior Adviser Gabello and the campaign organization] Strongly deny that there is any merit or truth in Mr Hallinan’s claims, including his claims about having difficulty finding or keeping work after the campaign, ‘said Leopold.
“They’ve reached a settlement to avoid the constant distraction and significant cost of potential lawsuits and allow them to focus on working for the people of New Mexico during this pandemic.”
Lujan Grisham’s governor campaign made five payments of $ 12,500 each month from November to March to an Atlanta-based law firm representing James Hallinan (above)
Hallinan first blamed the Democratic governor in a tweet in late 2019 (above)
Rachel Berlin Benjamin, an attorney for the Buckley Beal law firm, to which the payments were sent and who represents Hallinan, told DailyMail.com that the two sides have “ resolved any differences or issues satisfactorily. ”
“I cannot give any further information,” she said.
Hallinan first accused the governor of sexual harassment in late 2019 in a series of cryptic tweets posted on Christmas Day.
“ A governor @GovMLG is not above the law for her sexual and physical abuse of workers, including (me !!!) I will talk more when I return to the country, ” he tweeted on December 25, 2019, about a year after he stopped working for the governor.
His tweet did not contain any details of the accusation and led to an immediate denial from the governor’s office, which released a statement calling the charges “ bizarre and defamatory. ”
Days later, Hallinan revealed details of the alleged incident at a senior staff meeting at Representative Deborah Armstrong’s home in the summer of 2018.
Lujan Grisham met President Joe Biden in February in the Oval Office to discuss a COVID-19 aid package
Hallinan claimed that Lujan Grisham took a bottle of water and poured it over his crotch before slapping him and grabbing his crotch.
He said he spoke out more than a year later after being convinced by Dominic Gabello not to quit and report the incident to the police.
Gabello, who now works as a senior adviser to the governor, was Lujan Grisham’s campaign manager at the time.
Lujan Grisham’s office said the allegations were “categorically false,” and that others who attended the meeting also said the allegations are untrue.
The office also said that Hallinan’s work during her campaign was “characterized by frequent and repeated incidents of inappropriate and unprofessional behavior” and said that he “had not played any part in the governor’s administration.”
Hallinan, who now runs his own communications company, worked for Democratic Attorney General Hector Balderas before joining Lujan Grisham’s campaign.
Last month, Lujan Grisham waded into sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo (above)
News of the settlement comes a year after the governor signed a bill into state law restricting the use of nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) in cases of sexual misconduct.
The law, signed in March and taking effect in May 2020, prohibits employers from requiring employees to sign NDAs for sexual harassment, assault, discrimination, or retaliation.
Last month, Lujan Grisham also waded into sexual harassment allegations against another Democratic governor.
Several women have come forward to accuse New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior and he is being investigated by the Attorney General.
Cuomo denies touching anyone inappropriately.
Lujan Grisham, leader of the Democratic Governors Association, told the Washington Post the allegations against Cuomo were “ troubling. ”
“ I honestly belong to that group of elected leaders, that you believe the individual, you really give credit and credibility there, if you don’t, we blame brave men and women who come forward again, ” she said.
However, the governor did not join Cuomo’s call to resign.