In 2019, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was accused by former campaign spokesman James Hallinan of sexual and physical abuse. Hallinan claimed then-U.S. Rep. Lujan Grisham “took a water bottle and dumped it on my crotch and then slapped and grabbed me in front of everybody.”
He claims this assault happened during a senior staff meeting held at Representative Deborah Armstrong’s (D-Bernalillo) home in the summer of 2018. Armstrong was formerly Gov. Lujan Grisham’s business partner in “Delta Consulting,” a company that has allegedly grifted the people of New Mexico by upcharging the sick in the state’s high-risk insurance pool despite Obamacare effectively making the program obsolete.
Hallinan claimed he was talked out of reporting the incident by then-Lujan Grisham campaign manager Dominic Gabello, who is now a senior adviser in the Governor’s Office.
Now, according to an Albuquerque Journal report, the Governor’s campaign has shelled out “at least $62,500” According to the report, “The payments went to a law firm representing James Hallinan, a spokesman for Lujan Grisham during her 2018 general election campaign. The five monthly payments of $12,500 are outlined in a campaign finance report filed late Monday by Lujan Grisham’s campaign with the Secretary of State’s Office. They are listed as legal expenses, with one payment a month from November through March.”
The Governor’s campaign spokesman Jared Leopold said the payments are part of a settlement resolving “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.”
Lujan Grisham, Gabello and the campaign organization itself “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,” Leopold said. “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.”
Rachel Berlin Benjamin, Hallinan’s attorney said the governor and Hallinan “have resolved any differences or issues to their satisfaction.”
If Hallninan’s claims were without merit, it is unclear why the Governor is now conceding to the former staffer via tens of thousands of dollars in campaign cash now and possibly in the future to keep him silent. Could this scandal have contributed to the Governor turning down a cabinet position in the Joe Biden regime?
Hallinan has also accused lawmakers, including state Sen. Jacob Candelaria (D-Bernalillo), of sexual assault, writing on Twitter that Candelaria allegedly sexually abused him at the Bull Ring restaurant while Hallinan worked for state Reps. Brain Egolf (D-Santa Fe) and Moe Maestas (D-Bernalillo).