January 17, 2020 – Ahead of the State of the State address, NMiF Senior Producer Matt Grubs sits down with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for a preview of what to expect now that the governor has delivered her call to legislators for her second session as chief executive. The governor has introduced a budget that creates a trust fund for early childhood development and establishes a state department for the same purpose. But Lujan Grisham has different ideas than lawmakers about how much money the early childhood effort will take. This segment was edited for time; you can watch web extras from the interview at newmexicoinfocus.org.
NMiF also asked about recent allegations from a former campaign staffer, James Hallinan, who says the governor inappropriately grabbed his crotch during a meeting. Hallinan reportedly said other senior staff members encouraged him to keep quiet about the alleged incident when he raised his discomfort with them.
The governor and others at the meeting, including state Rep. Deborah Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, have denied the claim. Lujan Grisham spoke in favor of giving voice to alleged sexual mistreatment victims as the Me Too movement gained momentum. Her office called Hallinan’s late December claims “bizarre and slanderous.” Hallinan reportedly said the allegations have “eaten at me” and “destroyed me.” NMiF asked how the governor squared her defense against the allegations with her respect for Hallinan’s right to speak out as an alleged victim.
“There’s nothing to be squared,” said Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesman for Lujan Grisham. “The governor is absolutely clear that victims must have the opportunity to be heard. She has been and continues to be a strong advocate of speaking up and speaking out in support of victims. [The] #MeToo movement … was and continues to represent a long-overdue reckoning with our inability as a society to acknowledge the pain so many people have silently carried as a result of abuse and harassment and worse, and to work to make things right and better moving forward. But false allegations, invented out of whole cloth, undermine the entire new structure advocates of that movement and others have begun to build. They delegitimize the voices and stories of genuine victims that we must continue to validate and support. They make a mockery of the important work of encouraging victims to share their stories when they are ready to do and of holding perpetrators to account for their actions. That’s exactly what this allegation is: false and harmful. Harmful not [to] the governor’s reputation — although it is — but, more importantly, to the ongoing work we are all doing to be more receptive and open to the stories genuine victims are telling.”
“There were multiple witnesses to the meeting Mr. Hallinan describes. All of them have publicly avowed what he has alleged is made up,” Stelnicki continued. “The governor has never, ever crossed the kind of line Mr. Hallinan describes her as crossing. Those who have worked with her and know
her well attest to that. We won’t pretend to understand why he chose to invent this story, but we hope he gets the help he needs.”
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, (D) New Mexico
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