New Mexico Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has now paid out a total of $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim from an ex-campaign spokesman, financial records revealed Monday.
In April, reports revealed that Grisham’s campaign had paid $62,500 in a settlement negotiated with a law firm representing James Hallinan, a former staffer who accused Grisham of pouring water over his crotch before she grabbed it through his pants in front of colleagues at a 2018 meeting. Hallinan, who now runs his own political consulting firm, complained about the incident a year later after the campaign was complete.
On Monday, new financial disclosures between April and September exposed the governor dishing out an additional $87,500, the Albuquerque Journal reported, to bring the total amount to $150,000, during which time New York Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned over similar allegations without a single payment made.
“The campaign reached this settlement in 2020 due to the expense of litigating business disputes and to prevent any distraction during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” campaign spokeswoman Kendall Witmer said in a Sunday statement preceding the public filing.
New Mexico Republicans derided Grisham’s settlement as hush-money payments, emblematic of Democratic hypocrisy.
“During former New York Gov. Cuomo’s sex scandal, Lujan Grisham cried out for transparency and a full investigation,” said New Mexico GOP spokesman Mike Curtis on Monday. “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.”
Grisham, facing re-election next year amid a series of scandals from violations of transparency laws to taxpayer-funded groceries, has raised $2.5 million since April, according to The New York Post. The governor has also taken criticism for opening up a shut-down jewelry store early in the pandemic for a personal purchase.