New Mexico governor settles harassment claim for $150K

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SANTA FE (NM) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a former campaign spokesman, has settled harassment allegations with $150,000.

Monday’s mandatory campaign finance report, which the Democratic campaign filed, revealed that the latest round of payments. As several Republicans vie for the office, the two-yearly report on contributions and spending shows that the incumbent has raised $2.5 Million since April.

Since announcing her candidacy for GOP state Rep. Rebecca Dow in July, she has raised over $440,000. According to her campaign, she has received contributions of more than 1,300 donors.

James Hallinan, a former campaign staffer, had accused Lujan Grisham of dropping water on to his crotch before grabbing his crotch during a meeting of campaign staff prior to the election. This accusation was denied by the governor.

Lujan Grisham stated earlier this year that she resolved the matter to help her focus on the pandemic. The governor stated that there had not been any financial settlements or nondisclosure agreements similar to this.

Lujan Grisham’s political committee paid $87,500 more over the past six month to Hallinan’s attorney. Hallinan now runs a political consulting and public relations firm. In April’s campaign spending report, the political committee stated that $62,500 was paid as part of the settlement.

Kendall Witmer, Campaign spokesperson, stated in a statement that there was no merit to the claims and that the settlement was reached in 2020 due to “the expense of litigating commercial disputes and to avoid any distractions during the height COVID-19 pandemic.”

Republicans have criticized the settlement and it is being used by Republican rivals to fuel their campaigns for the gubernatorial election. Republicans accused the governor Monday of misleading New Mexicans through “disguising” the settlement payments from campaign finance reports as legal costs. They said voters deserve transparency and a governor who is transparent.

The governor has also been criticized for her handling the pandemic. Lujan Grisham’s campaign defended Lujan Grisham and pointed out her efforts to diversify state’s economy, and to spend more money on education.

Witmer stated that the campaign doesn’t take anything for granted, and that it is in the best possible position going into 2022.