Democrat New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham paid $150,000 to settle a claim of sexual harassment made against her by a former campaign staffer, according to financial documents reported by the New York Post.
In April, financial documents revealed Lujan Grisham paid at least $62,500 to the staffer’s law firm, Buckley Beal LLP, for “legal expenses.” The payments were made in five installments of $12,500, starting in November 2020 and continuing into March 2020.
Updated financial documents show Lujan Grisham continued the monthly payments through September, bringing the total she paid to $150,000. The last known payment was made Sept. 29, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
The sexual assault complaint was made by James Hallinan, who worked as a campaign communications director for Lujan Grisham.
He claimed Lujan Grisham poured a bottle of water on his crotch and then slapped and grabbed his crotch through his pants “in front of everybody.”
Lujan Grisham’s current campaign spokesman, Kendall Witmer, said the governor reached the settlement with Hallinan “due to the expense of litigating business disputes and to prevent any distraction during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Her senior advisor Dominic Gabello also claimed the settlement in no way confirms the “truth” of Hallinan’s claims.
“The settlement agreement fully resolves the disputed potential claims,” campaign spokesman Jared Leopold said in April.
“They reached a settlement in order to avoid the continuing distraction and significant expense of possible litigation and allow them to concentrate on working for the people of New Mexico during this pandemic.”
The New Mexico GOP, however, said Lujan Grisham’s settlement was nothing more than “hush money” to shut up Hallinan.
“This governor is a habitual hypocrite,” party spokesman Mike Curtis said in a statement Monday.
“During former New York Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo’s sex scandal, Lujan Grisham cried out for transparency and a full investigation,” Curtis said. “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.”