Dem New Mexico governor’s sex harassment settlement larger than first reported

Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was at the center of a sexual harassment scandal that unfolded earlier this year.

New information surfaced this week that more than doubled the size of a settlement she reached with her accuser.

“Every minute of every day”

According to Fox News, Grisham’s campaign paid out a $150,000 settlement to former spokesperson James Hallinan following his allegations against the governor.

Among the claims Hallinan made was that Grisham poured water on his crotch and grabbed him inappropriately when the two were at the home of state Rep. Deborah Armstrong.

The settlement figure revealed this week is significant in that it is considerably higher than the $62,500 previously reported by Fox News.

For her part, the governor denied any wrongdoing, asserting that the settlement was reached because she “was focused on the pandemic” and would defend her decision “every minute of every day.”

Grisham confirmed that she was not involved in any other additional settlements or nondisclosure agreements. Campaign finance disclosures, however, showed that the alleged victim was also given another $87,500 in addition to the previously confirmed sum.

“Suspect and varied claims”

Campaign spokesperson Kendall Witmer acknowledged the expenditure in a statement to the Albuquerque Journal.

She asserted that the additional money “resolved suspect and varied claims made by Mr. Hallinan, including his search for employment and clients following his tumultuous tenure on the 2018 campaign.”

The settlement was reached last year, Witmer added, “due to the expense of litigating business disputes and to prevent any distraction during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

As for Grisham’s responsibilities, the spokesperson said this scandal has not gotten in the way, declaring that the governor “will continue to work tirelessly for the people of New Mexico, delivering on record economic growth, educational investment, and tax cuts for New Mexico’s family — all while leading the state through the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Grisham is up for re-election next year, and it is already shaping up to be an uphill battle for the incumbent. A poll released in August found that voters in the state were split on her performance with 45% of respondents who said they approved of her job performance and 45% who said they disapproved.

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