A story that won’t receive as much media attention as one involving a male Republican governor, the female Democratic governor of New Mexico’s 2018 campaign recently reached a settlement with a former male aide who accused her of sexual misconduct.
The Albuquerque Journal reported that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM)’s campaign reached a settlement with James Hallinan, who worked as a spokesperson for her 2018 gubernatorial campaign.
Hallinan claimed in late 2019 – a year after leaving the campaign – that during the campaign, Lujan Grisham had poured a bottle of water on his crotch and then grabbed his crotch through his clothing while laughing. Hallinan claimed other staffers witnessed this event.
The Journal reported that Hallinan claimed he “was talked out of reporting the incident by Lujan Grisham campaign manager Dominic Gabello, who is now a senior adviser in the Governor’s Office.”
Hallinan made the allegation in a tweet on December 25, 2019, adding that he would provide more information when he returned to the U.S.
“A governor … is not above the law for her sexual and physical abuse of employees including (me!!!) I’ll talk more when I return to the country,” he wrote.
Following the tweet, a spokeswoman for Lujan Grisham said the allegations were odd and false, adding that the staffers who allegedly witnessed the water bottle incident said it didn’t happen.
Lujan Grisham’s campaign spokesman Jared Leopold said in a statement Monday that the payment to Hallinan – which amounts to at least $62,500 paid out over five months – was part of a settlement that resolved “numerous dubious and disputed potential claims made by Mr. Hallinan arising from his employment in 2018 with the campaign organization and his subsequent search for employment.”
Leopold added that the settlement was agreed to in order to avoid an ongoing distraction, adding that the governor, Gabello, and the campaign “strenuously deny that there is any merit or truth to Mr. Hallinan’s claims, including his claims about difficulty finding or keeping work after the campaign.”
“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,” Leopold added.
More from the Journal:
Settlement payments were made to the Buckley Beal law firm in Atlanta, where Rachel Berlin Benjamin, an attorney for Hallinan, is senior partner.
She said Monday that the governor and Hallinan “have resolved any differences or issues to their satisfaction.”
“I am not able to provide any further information,” she said.
A settlement usually carries the impression of guilt, though it is not always the case. The way the media treats different cases, however, is far different. The allegations against Lujan Grisham are couched with wording meant to sow doubt on the accusations. This is not the case when a Republican is accused, nor would the story be covered as little as this one has been, with each outlet publishing just one article about it and moving on, with little to no TV coverage and no opinion articles about what this says about the Party or one particular gender.
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